Hello, my name is Jessica.
Who am I?
I am a mother of 2 young boys, under 5, but this isn’t about them. I’m just a proud mother. I’ll be 30 this year, and, unfortunately, on top of all that I have brain cancer. A grade IV glioblastoma to be exact.
What were my symptoms? I had returned to work from maternity leave, and quickly fell ill while my husband’s grandparents were visiting. I remember it was morning when I walked into the living room holding my baby, and asked the grandmother to take him, because I didn’t trust my arm for it was feeling weak. It only got worse from there.
I was breastfeeding at the time and my arm weakness didn’t help when I needed to pick him up. I felt as if he’d cry looking at me, like, what are you waiting for? I’m hungry. It only got worse. I soon fell ill with what I thought to be the flu. My body ached followed by chills. Oh yes, this was the flu. While lying in bed, one morning, I googled my symptoms. My advice, never do it. Anyway, funnily enough, it said I had a tumor. I brushed it off. I had no time to be sick. I had 2 boys who needed me, parents don’t get sick days, and work.
I worked from home, feeling miserable. I worked in bed, watching Netflix. Never failed, it was always the same. Chills, aches, and a smell. Didn’t matter where I was, the strange smell would always follow. It was trash day, and a Monday. My husband texted apologetically asking me to take trash out. Reluctantly, because it had to be done, I did it. It was windy out. I got aches, chills, and smelled the smell. I also noticed I would bounce down the hallway, hitting the left side wall and bash into doorways on my left. Weird. I was probably down with this strange flu for a week until I returned to work. Even then, I still didn’t feel 100% myself, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
I was probably at work for a week, and things only got progressively and slowly worse. My words would slur and my left hand would lock up when I typed. I voiced my concerns to my husband but he said it probably just me getting back into the swing of things. Mm, make sense. I would notice when I’d walk, my left foot toe would catch, and I’d trip. A temp who worked in the office just finished school as a PT, so I sought her out for advice. She gave me stretches I could try, and because my left arm was weak, doing bedside feeding, she pointed out maybe this was stretching my neck and arm muscles improperly.
Time went on, and I didn’t improve. It was a Friday, and a friend of mine came to my desk. I voiced my concerns, saying my arm was beginning to feel like dead weight. My friend said laughing “Smile real big!”
“I’m not having a stroke! Get out of here!” I laughed.
This friend was the same I chatted with while working from home, telling him what I was experiencing and what Google told me. Still, what he said in jest stuck with me. After I picked up the boys, and got home, I smiled real big into a mirror. Sure enough, the left side of my smile didn’t rise. When my husband got home, I told him my concerns, showing him my smile.
“Ok. Let’s go to the ER.”
Luckily my parents and grandfather were already on their way. Upon their arrival, I told them about my face, showing them my face. My grandfather, who’d seen strokes before, said, “Yes. Go.”
And so, we went. Usually the ER is a crazy wait, but hearing me say I think I’m having a stroke, they pretty much whisked me to the back, asking my symptoms. I noticed I was drooling a bit on the left side of my mouth. The did a CT, and drew blood. We waited for the results, which came quickly.
The doctor came in with a printout of my brain, explaining the brain is a mirror of itself if split in half. The printout showed a sphere like ball in the middle. I instantly cried. I didn’t need any more explanation to know.
My husband and I cried together.
This site is dedicating to sharing science news and knowledge, but it is easy to get bogged down in the facts and forget about the human stories behind them.
We recently posted a factsheet on Glibolastoma, the most common brain cancer in adults. Although the information is all well and good, it doesn’t tell you much about what it’s like to suffer with the disease.
I’m so grateful to Jessica for sharing her story in such an open and honest way. I know all my readers will be wishing you the very best in your treatment.