Opinion

The beginning of my sister's cancer story continued . . .

by
September 14, 2016

The scar from surgery after the stitches were removed.

So they returned once again to the doctors to finally be told it could in fact be epilepsy and after a number of tests and evaluations it was determined that this was the result of all her moments of dizziness. She was then prescribed a number of tablets to help control the seizures which seemed to be having some positive effects as the frequency of episodes slowly began decreasing. Her dosages were constantly changing in an attempt to fully stop the occurrence of the absent seizures and with such strong medication her concentration levels were taking a toll and she began feeling lethargic throughout the day. As mentioned earlier, this impacted her schooling as she would often miss information in class due to an onset of a seizure or lack of attention. As a result, work that would often take her half an hour to complete was now consuming an hour of her time. Heading into year 12 the timing could not have come at a worse moment in her life. On top of the drowsiness and lack of focus, additional side effects of the tablets including things such as acne and weight gain, not something a young girl wants to hear. The doctors had initially hoped from the first cat scans and electroencephalogram (EEG) test that it was juvenile epilepsy that Amy would eventually grow out of, however the tablets were unable to control the seizures as they normally did and fear arose that this was not the likely case.

They did further scans of Amy’s brain to determine the cause of the epilepsy and this was when it was revealed that a tumour, around the size of a golf ball, was the source of all the distress. It was then down to Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre for a more thorough screening to establish the size and location of the tumour. The results uncovered a black area situated in the left-hand side of her brain, much larger than expected, which was not functioning properly. With the tablets she had been taking for the past year no longer having any control over the seizures and the size of the tumour now a concern for doctors, surgery became the next best option to give Amy the quality of life she deserved. Despite a number of risks surrounding the prospect of surgery, with the position of the tumour posing a threat to her site and memory if operated on, the decision was made to undergo the procedure. Cancer was never mentioned throughout the entire process with the tumour thought to have been benign from the beginning, however after its removal tests revealed it was in fact cancerous and the next stage in Amy’s journey commenced with discussion now turning to monitoring the possibility of the tumour returning.

Unbeknown to everyone, Amy’s journey with brain cancer could’ve began long before she started noticing any symptoms. It is quite possible that Amy has had the tumour from a very young age and it had slowly been growing without any awareness until it developed to the stage where it manifested visible symptoms. For now, Amy has not experienced any absent seizures since the operation and is driving again after having to stop for a couple of years due to the epilepsy. Although being reliant still on medication to prevent the return of seizures the dosage has dropped to an amount where her concentration isn’t affected and she can easily get on with her day without any hindrances. Her experience should be encouraging to anyone to follow up on things that do not seem normal or are out of character as without the persistence of Amy, her family and doctors to find the cause of her dizziness the cancer may have been discovered a lot longer down the track with a much different outcome.

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