We received the following testimony from Kathleen Rhodes. She found Donna's story on the web and sent us her story of surviving her brain tumor to us May 13, 2005. Kathleen has the distinction of being the longest survivor on Donna's web page! She has placed her faith in the Lord to carry her through this ordeal. If you would like to email Kathleen, you may do so by clicking here.
My name is Kathleen Rhodes. On Jan 18, 1993 I was diagnosed with GBM IV.
In August 1992, I began noticing changes in my mental sharpness. It took me forever to perform basic tasks at work. I would loose my train of thought often and have to start all over again. I was also having daily headaches. I kept finding excuses for everything.
In late October of that year, I was preparing for a trip to meet my husband in Spain. I was also trying to get ready for an up coming the court date (I was a paralegal for a chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee). We were gone for one week, and I just couldn't think straight.
When I got back it was Thanksgiving; then it was Christmas. The left side of my face went numb like I had been to the dentist. I finally saw my family Doctor. He thought I might be coming down with Bell's Palsy. After New Years, I went back and he ordered an MRI that showed a 2.5 cm mass. This is where my miracle began.
I called the Dr.'s office for the results early but they still didn't have the report. What I did not know was that my sister and husband had called later and the results were in. My sister called to take me to lunch. She kept trying to get me to go by the office I said no, I did not want to bother them during lunch and I said that I would call them later. My sister didn't want to be the one to tell me so she took me back to work!
I called later and our doctor of 30 years knew no matter what he said I would think the worst so he told me but he had already made an appointment with a neurosurgeon within the hour. I sat in the coffee room of our office to ponder the information. An attorney came in and asked how I was. I told her the news I had just received. She left then came back and placed a medal in my hand. She said I don't mean to offend you if your are not Catholic but this means alot to me and I would like to share it with you. It was a medal she got when she visited Medjgoria (I forget how to spell it) where people have been seeing the Virgin Mary. The second she placed that in my hand it was as if it absorbed all my fear. I felt great peace and knew God had me in his hands and His will would be done.
I went on to see the neurosurgeon that afternoon, then went bowling that night with my sister, my best friend and her husband. They were all crying and distraught over the news. I bowled the best game (169) I ever bowled that night!
After my biopsy, it was confirmed that I had Glioblastoma Multiforme. (GBM) I underwent the 33 radiation treatments then went to Brigham & Women's in Boston for stereotactic radiosurgery. At this time, chemo was not considered to be an effective treatment for brain tumors. I was on decadron, a steroid for a short period to help the brain swelling. I was also placed on Dilantin for seizures. I was so blessed I still can't believe how easy the next two years were.
In April, '95 a routine MRI showed no tumor change. In May, just two weeks before my son's high school graduation, my husband took me to the hospital as I was having seizures. The MRI showed a tumor the size of an ice cream cone. Because of tumor growth and swelling the doctors told my family I probably would not survive the weekend. I did and went to graduation.
We discussed the situation over with my surgeon. He told me that if I did nothing I only had a very short time to survive. If we did surgery, I might die on the table or be left in a vegetative state. We decided to do the surgery. He removed a large portion of the right temporal, parietal and occipital lobes along with the tumor. After the surgery, I was totally blind, disoriented and uncoordinated. As the swelling went down and the wound healed, my vision returned and I regained most of my mental function.
I still have some loss of peripheral vision and left side numbness. I have trouble with fatigue and functioning when things get hectic. I sleep a lot, but I still manage to play some golf.
I live in the Virgin Islands with my husband. We know that we received a miracle and are truly grateful for our blessings. I turned 50 in October 2004.
I say it is much better to be over the hill than under the hill!
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