Life has been great to me and all thanks goes to the power of God. I started my journey when I was only nine years old. A little girl with not a care in the world, I knew little of what was waiting around the bend.
I played softball the summer of 2000. In the blistering heat, I played my heart out week after week and loved every moment of it. Our team even won a championship. After I finished playing softball, I began to get really sick, but refused to stay home from Boys & Girls Club. My grandma stopped often on those trips so I could vomit. But I still refused to quit and go back home.
Then, grandma and granddad called the doctor for an appointment and they gave my mom the money to take me to the appointment. My grandma wanted me well before I started back to school so I would not have to miss any school days. This began my journey back and forth to the doctor and emergency rooms.
School began and I entered the fourth grade. But my life really started to change. We noticed that I held my head to the right 24/7. That position seemed to relieve my pain. Still I kept vomiting and complaining of headaches. The doctors said I had migraines, just like my mom and grandma. We could not figure out what was wrong with me. I missed day after day from school, going in and out of the doctor’s office. On my last visit to the doctor, my grandma let my dad go to work so she and my mom could take me to the doctor. When it was my turn to see the pediatrician, he did a routine check-up and again told my mom the same thing. But this time, my grandma insisted that the doctor send me to the hospital for additional medical testing and he did.
I was admitted to the hospital, had a CT scan, MRI and blood tests. I really didn’t understand any of the things they were doing to me. After testing they took me to my room. My grandma left for work and just me and my mom waited on the results. Mom walked out of the room and I didn’t know why. But I soon knew the reason. Awhile passed and I was still in the room alone thinking, “I can’t wait until they let me out of this place. I’m ready to go home.”
The phone rang and it was my cousin who was hysterical and crying. I didn’t know what was going on. I thought, maybe, something happened to her son. I gave my mom the phone and they talked for a while. Soon family members started showing up. Then I knew something was going on.
The doctor came in. He and my mom told me something that I didn’t want to hear. They said, “Tee you are sick. You have a BRAIN TUMOR and you have to have surgery to relieve the pressure from your brain.”
The first thing I said was, “Mama, I don’t want to DIE.” I spoke whimpering. I still didn’t fully understand but I knew it was bad. That next day, a Saturday, an ambulance transported me to Egleston Children’s Hospital in Atlanta, where I underwent numerous surgeries that left me physically weak.
After conquering those milestones, I had the challenge of learning how to walk all over again. It was hard but I managed as I continued radiation and chemotherapy. It seemed as though I was going to spend the rest of my life in the hospital. I had my good days and my bad days, but my good days always outweighed the bad.
I had yet another milestone to conquer. One day, after one of my numerous radiation treatments, the doctor called me and my mom into one of the rooms. He started talking to my mom but I really wasn’t paying any attention. While they talked, I put my hand in my head to scratch it. I pulled out a handful of hair! I cried like a baby when I saw it. The doctor was telling my mom that my hair would fall out.
That weekend, I gave my daddy and mom my permission to cut the rest of my hair off. That spared me the pain of letting it fall out piece by piece. I wasn’t scared. My dad cut my hair and he let me cut his hair, too. Mom tried not to watch too much to keep from crying. After that I wore a wig with two plaits that hung down. Sometimes, I snatched the wig off anytime or anywhere if my head was hot or it itched. I wasn’t ashamed of my baldness.
The chemotherapy and radiation tired me out. After six weeks of treatment, Atlanta started to feel like home. The Ronald McDonald House and the Egleston hospital family were part of my family now but I was happy to go home.
Slowly but surely, things got back to normal although things will never be the same. With my family, friends and the Lord on my side, I am blessed beyond measure.
I continued therapy and constant visits to Egleston, but I still really and truly did not understand what had happen to me. One day my mom sat me down and explained it to me. Mom said, “Tee you had a brain tumor in the back of your head. It touched your brain stem and it was cancerous. Baby, if you had not gotten the help you needed, you probably would not be here today.” The size of the tumor was bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball, she said.
I was shocked by what I heard. God gave me another chance at life. I thank him every day and every chance I get. I still have my problems and disabilities, but at least I am here today because he cared enough for me. I have graduated from high school, started going to college and write poetry. I have been cancer and brain tumor free for 11 ½ years. By the grace of God, I made it.
Winning the War
The war is over at least for me,
Because you see I know I’m cancer and tumor free
See I know what it feels like to live this way
Spending months in the hospital
Not getting to go home,
Sick day and night
Where all I could do was eat and
Learn how to walk all over again.
It’s not something that you want happen to you,
But I know that all this wasn’t meant to stay in me forever.
The celebration has started and will never end.