Lisa's Story of Hope

Lisa's Story of Hope

Meet Lisa Clarke: a wife, a mother, a community volunteer, and a brain tumour survivor with an uncanny ability to find the bright side in any situation. On a morning like any other, Lisa opened her mouth to say goodbye as her husband left for work, and found that she was at a complete loss for words. “I couldn’t get any sound to come out… It was scary. When I finally did, it was completely garbled.”

Lisa had been experiencing headaches, which she dismissed as allergies; bouts of unsteadiness, although inner ear exams revealed no cause for concern; and moments of intense sensory overload, which she could not explain at the time, but later learned were seizures. This instance of speech confusion, however, instigated the testing that changed her life forever. After a set of CT scans, and with her husband by her side, Lisa was diagnosed with a rather large brain tumour that required immediate surgery.

Three weeks after the diagnosis, Lisa underwent debulk surgery to remove the brain tumour, after which she had six weeks of radiation and two years of chemotherapy. A biopsy from the surgery confirmed Lisa’s tumour as a grade 3 Anaplastic Astrocytoma, a rare form of malignant tumour that accounts for approximately 2% of all brain tumours and can occur anywhere in the brain.

Lisa still has a portion of her brain tumour that could not be removed. It has not changed in 14 years, but Lisa still has yearly MRIs and check-ups to confirm that it stays that way.

“Cancer takes a lot from you, but I feel as though I have received a lot too. I received many gifts such as strength, courage, hope and faith. During the three weeks I waited for my surgery I actually began to feel the strength and courage that my loved ones and I prayed for. They made me feel stronger than I thought was possible considering what I was facing. I found myself able to stay positive and, with this new found strength, I was able to keep all the fearful and persistent questions at bay. I would not have consciously chosen cancer as a teacher, but my eyes and heart were opened to the many blessings that came from my cancer journey. I believe I have been very blessed from this cancer journey and for having a second chance at living a healthy and joyful life with all my family and friends”.

One of the other things that Lisa received was Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s patient handbook. “I received it while I was in the hospital and I read it cover to cover. I was like a sponge, and left the hospital knowing more than when I went in.”

This year, Lisa generously volunteered her time, her support, and her hope to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada and participated in the 14th annual Brain Tumour Walk in Windsor, ON.

“I know that I am living a great life and the treatments that I’ve received have kept my tumour under control. I can’t say that I’m cancer free – because I’m not – but I do consider myself a survivor. As a 14 year survivor, I feel like I am living proof that the research that is being done is making a difference in the quality of life that cancer patients have. It’s helping to extend lives, my life.” I hope that I can be an inspiration to others and that has become my life purpose. It is very fulfilling,”  

Thank you Lisa, for sharing your story of hope, and for joining the movement to end brain tumours. The movement is stronger because of you.

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Posted in 2017


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