Opinion

The beginning of my sister's cancer story

by
September 14, 2016

She has always been an overachiever when it came to things like school and sport and was always the loudest person in any social situation, never afraid to shy away from a conversation.

From when she was 12-years-old she started noticing that she was getting dizzy at random times throughout the day.

Amy was at no time someone to make a big deal out of any situation, so when she began expressing concerns to her mother about feeling dizzy some alarm bells were raised.

The spells usually lasted for around five seconds and consisted of her being in a state where she was neither in nor out of focus with what was occurring around her, but somewhere in between.

For those near her it was easy to assume the young girl was just not concentrating or was lost in her own thoughts, however for Amy she knew the sensations weren’t normal.

An initial visit to the doctors determined her situation to be just getting light-headed from time to time, as Amy was unable to explain the condition very well aside from just feeling disorientated.

She was given tablets to take when she started having the moments that would work to counteract the affects.

The tablets proved ineffective as a solution as Amy was unable to determine when the feelings of vertigo were going to take place and since they only lasted a short period of time they could not conclude if the tablets had any success.

The symptoms continued and without any way of properly conveying what was happening to her it was decided that it would be one of those things she would grow out of and it was left at that.

Almost three years down the track and the “dizzy spells” continued to occur on a daily basis.

They had begun to last longer and affect her concentration in greater severity, sometimes happening up to four times a day and leaving her more out of it when they did.

She went back to the doctors to again have her situation looked in to by someone else and this time there was concern over whether it had something to do with her heart.

To test this theory Amy had to wear a heart monitor over 24-hours which she activated every time she was experiencing a moment of dizziness to observe the impact it had on an internal level.

Nothing emerged from the results to suggest this was a cause in her symptoms and it was back to square one with the idea that it was something she would grow out of.

The symptoms started upsetting her ability to complete everyday tasks, such as sport and school work, and people began noticing that she wasn’t quite herself.

Her involvement in Saturday afternoon tennis experienced some of the impact as the heat seemed to bring on the light-headedness more frequently and made it longer lasting.

This limited how well she could perform and often left her feeling faint off the court with an icepack around her neck.

Her netball also took a setback as she couldn’t control the onset of the dizzy spells which would frequently occur during the middle of a match.

With not many people knowing about the symptoms the moments were often ignored and Amy would continue with the game after regaining her concentration without anyone noticing.

One particular incident arose during a netball game at high school zones in Sydney when Amy was in year 11.

The commencement of a dizzy spell left her on the sideline, unsure of how she had gotten there, whilst the game continued on.

As no one knew what was happening they just assumed she had hurt herself and stopped and took her off the court.

Once she explained to her coaches what was happening it was easier to identify the moments where Amy was “out of it” and her involvement in games became more manageable.

Unfortunately, she didn’t grow out of it and it wasn’t until her mother, Leanne, witnessed one of the dizzy spells for herself that some progress was made into what was causing her fade outs.

Whilst driving into town with Amy one day, Leanne noticed that she had stopped talking mid-sentence and when she tried to converse with her, Amy said something completely out of context which made her look over and notice that she had lost all concentration.

It was at that moment that Leanne suspected her daughter was experiencing an absent seizure after being familiar with them previously in working with children who had epilepsy.

~ to be continued

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