We love getting to know new members of the You Can Connect community! Maggie is a 31 year old survivor who was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 28, after surviving a car accident that revealed cancer. Maggie shares her thoughts on her "new normal" and whether or not she considers herself a survivor.
We asked her a few questions about her experience. Keep reading, and then send Maggie a connection request here!
Maggie, 31, Brain Tumor Survivor
YCC: How did you find out about your diagnosis?
MG: I was driving home from work and had a seizure while driving because I had jumped a concrete drain and landed in a paddock (I was unconscious during the seizure, so not a bad thing I don't remember). I awoke and the police, fire brigade and ambulance services were all there! I was taken to the hospital to have scans to see if I had any injuries from the accident, as it turns out there was not a single scratch from the accident but when they saw the results of the MRI I was transferred from Frankston Hospital to The Alfred Hospital (in Melbourne).
YCC: Were you familiar with cancer prior to your diagnosis?
MG: I was a little familiar, my step dads brother had a brain tumour, however from diagnosis to his time of passing was only eight months. My cousin also had a brain tumour, however when given 12 months she lived to 4 years beyond that and was of the best support she could offer when I was diagnosed, but she passed away a couple of months after I was diagnosed.
What was the hardest part about being diagnosed with cancer in your 20s?
MG: Telling your friends, balancing work, etc. My whole life changing, and it wasn't like having kids where people can give you advice, and you get something good out of it, it was really hard. I have friendships that have grown much closer and some that have ended. It has been the toughest three years of my life and I don't think anything could top this for me and or my partner.
Were you able to connect with anyone else your age with your diagnosis?
MG: Not really, I did try a few different ways, but the biggest blocker for me was not having a license for 12 months, and then chemo was taking a toll on me each month it got harder. I thought I was going to celebrate the end of chemo but I was so exhausted by the end I didn't feel how I thought I would have.
Were there any high points during your cancer experience/anything that you are grateful to have learned?
MG: I am grateful to have married my fiance in the middle of it all, and have those beautiful memories through the toughest time of our lives so far. Also learning that it's ok to be sad sometimes and to have bad days, and also learning to set boundaries.
What would you tell another young adult who was just diagnosed with brain cancer?
MG: I would tell them that I would be there for them any way that I could, to listen to their body and remember it's ok not to be ok. I would do whatever needed to offer any kind of support as I know just how tough it can be.
What has life after a cancer diagnosis been like for you?
MG: It's definitely had its challenges, once diagnosed with cancer, you learn that life is never going to be the same, I still struggle with that sometimes and miss who I used to be, but learning to accept that this is the new normal.
We noticed that you mentioned you are unsure about whether or not to call yourself a survivor or not. Could you expand on that a little bit?
MG: I am really unsure what survivor means I guess...I listen to my doctors and I think if they used the term survivor perhaps I would, I have had stable scans since December of 2015 but don't know if that makes me a survivor.
Anything else you'd like to share?
MG: Everyone's experience with cancer is going to be different, the main thing is that we can all empathize better than those without. Some of our friends or family will be great at understanding and others won't. The main thing is that the word cancer
needs to stop being taboo. I talk about my experience openly, I said to everyone I told once they cried and did what they needed I didn't want sad eyes every time I talked, like I was going to die because I wasn't dying I was just fighting for my life. Now all the treatment has taken a lot of my positivity and strength but I am hoping to slowly gain it back and get used to the new life.
Click here to connect with Maggie.
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