Stephen's Story: "I have faith that we will meet again"

Stephen's Story: "I have faith that we will meet again"
Stephen and I chatted on what should have been his 32nd Wedding Anniversary. Stephen and Susan were married for 30 years and were best friends for years before that, having met at school. They adopted two daughters who made their family complete. After years of happy marriage, a weird sensation in Susan’s arm sent her to a physician who suspected carpal tunnel, but who also wondered if there could be something more. A CT scan revealed a potential issue, so Susan was sent for a MRI, which revealed a brain tumour.
 
A multitude of doctors’ visits followed the diagnosis of anaplastic oligodendroglioma. The first doctor said he could operate, but a second surgeon said it was inoperable. They flew to Los Angeles for a third opinion but that doctor also said that he would not feel comfortable operating. Susan started on the chemotherapy treatment Temozolomide immediately. 
 
Susan Shore Radiation Mask artSusan also had radiation treatments, twice, which is not normally recommended, but when her tumour returned on the other side of her brain, it made a second round of radiation possible. Susan took the dreaded radiation masks and, using her talent as an artist, came to tell her story by making them things of beauty. 
 
Susan also switched to a different form of chemotherapy and, when seizures started, more medication was introduced. It was two years before the doctors determined that the chemotherapy was doing more harm than good, and that it was clear that Susan’s battle would not be won through medicine.
 
When asked what advice Stephen would give to someone new to the world of brain tumours, he said: “It can be hard. You look fine. So fine that people sometimes don’t appreciate what you are going through. Surround yourself with compassionate people who understand”.
 
Susan Shore - radiation mask artStephen is still grateful for all the support that they received at that time and that he continues to receive today from friends, neighbours and the Brain Tumour Support Group. Stephen continues to attend the group and when the facilitators went on an extended trip last winter, Stephen filled in to keep the support group going. 
 
Radiation mask art - Love...on a wing and a prayer
Stephen also willingly participates in fundraising, both at Brain Tumour Walk events and an annual music event that is run locally. “I believe it’s within the realms of possibility that medical science can come up with a cure. I don’t know what the timeframe for that will be, but I don’t believe it’s an insurmountable goal. If I can help make that happen, it’s worthwhile. I have faith that a cure will be found”.

Radiation mask art - Love and Fear

Sometimes it’s the simplest questions that can be the hardest to answer. I asked how Stephen is doing now. “There are times when it’s hard to deal with. I do believe she’s anxiously waiting for us all, but that she doesn’t want that day to come too soon. I have faith that we will meet again. I have no clue how you do this without faith.” 

Thank you Stephen for sharing your story and these pictures of Susan's talent.

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