My Journey
Living with a Brain Tumor

Invitation cover

Chapter 8

by Sandra Beardsley

Inside Invitation

We had a great party thanks to all of our friends and family! Our yard was filled with people sharing love, laughter and life! We even had a blues band that got us all dancing. A very uplifting and renewing experience... and it's going to become an annual affair!

Speech I Made at the Party

July 22, 2000

For anyone that has experienced cancer you know that your life is changed forever. I am just beginning to understand that the initial shock, grief, and heartache that comes with having cancer is a path that leads to a doorway that opens to reevaluating your life, a deep appreciation of family and friends, and eventually an inner peace about death. I may not be quite there yet but I’m on the path.

When I found out I had a malignant brain tumor last summer I couldn’t comprehend it. My father had experienced a brain tumor six years before and my mother had a benign brain tumor when I was 16. In both cases surgery was the answer. Brain tumors are rarely hereditary and in our case they were all unrelated. Just bad luck I guess... or was it. In watching both of them deal with their diagnosis and surgery I witnessed their strength. Obviously this impacted me greatly. Through this experience I have learned that everything happens for a reason. We just don’t always understand it at the time.

Many of you know my tumor is not operable without great loss of quality of life. Through a biopsy it was determined that the tumor was very slow growing and 6 weeks of radiation was the best treatment. At this time I have had two MRI’s since treatment ended and these have shown that the very small tumor has grown even smaller. This is great news! The effects of the treatment won’t be fully realized until November so I have learned to move on down the road. It is our hope that the tumor will disappear or stop growing and I will be cured. This will not be known for sometime and I need to live with the fact that the cancer could appear later down the road. Having said that I feel incredibly lucky and believe this experience has taught me so much.

Today I am so happy to celebrate with all of you and want to thank you for your healing thoughts and prayers and for sharing today with me. I want to thank my husband Dan who has been my rock through this past year and has truly been beside me on this journey. I also want to tell my son Cameron that by being mature and dependable I was able to concentrate on my own needs and that is a real gift for a mom. Being named an all-state football player and having an undefeated football season also gave me great games to look forward each weekend during my radiation treatments. Who says football isn’t healing!

I want to thank my brother Eric and his wife Pat for their love and also my parents, Glenna and Eric for their example and love. I need to acknowledge my doctors, even though they are not present they are a big reason why I am celebrating today. Dr. Miller Batson listened to me and then encouraged me to seek a second opinion. And thanks to my Sacred Heart doctors in Spokane, my neurologist, my Neurosurgeon, and my oncologist and his staff. I appreciate their honesty and directness and compassion.

Dan and I are so lucky to have friends and coworkers who gave support to us throughout the year. We thank all of you! The Forest Service folks and the Orondo School staff has been a big part of this healing process. The 6th graders made me their mascot and inspired me with their Make A Difference Day Project which raised over 1500 hats to send to kids with cancer in hospitals all over the country. Their teacher created an incredible video of the project and I am giving all of you an assignment. Please take 15 minutes to watch it in our living room. It is in the VCR. It’s truly inspirational!

I would like to thank Dennis and S.B. for the gift of the Tibetan prayer flag. It symbolizes my journey. It was hung in all the motel rooms we stayed in during my treatments and since then has hung in our trees in the backyard. It’s a little frayed around the edges but it’s still hanging in there, kinda like me!

A big thank you to my friends Angie and Bruce who have given me the gift of music by bringing their band to play. What would a party be without dancing!

One of the footnotes of this experience for me has been keeping a journal and thanks to my husband it is a website. There is a printed off copy in the kitchen along with lots of photos . My website has links to other cancer information sites that helped me and I would love for you to share it with others. I’ve received some e-mail from it and has given me a lot of happiness to know I’ve helped someone.

Lastly, I need to mention Lance Armstrong. He was a big inspiration to me last summer. I even have a link to his website on mine. He won the most difficult sporting event in the world, the Tour de France bicycle race which is a 2,274 mile race ridden in 21 days. Three years prior he was diagnosed with testicular cancer which had spread to his lungs and brain. He had many surgeries and was expected to drop out of cycling. Instead he won the tour . He will be crowned the winner tomorrow for the second year. He made me realize that the diagnosis of cancer is not a reason to give up. I’d like to end with one of my favorite quotes from Lance that says it all. “I have good days and I have great days!”

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