“On April 1st, I got a text from my brother-in-law: “Claire, I took your sister to the ER for signs of a stroke. Call the girls for prayers.” Given we live about 1800 miles apart, that’s all their three girls and I could do. Pray.
The next 24 hours were a series of tests and scans, a move from one hospital to another, and then surgery. The brain surgeon was able to remove nearly all of the tumor in the right temporal lobe. I could hear the relief in my brother-in-law’s text after speaking with the surgeon postsurgery. “She was amongst the +95 percentile who came out of this surgery and recovered rapidly,” he wrote. Within three days, she was home.
I first contacted Kendra Paabo, a nurse navigator with the Brain Tumor Network, on the suggestion of my sister Carol, the researcher in the family who had wasted no time looking online for resources and support. Four days after Anne’s surgery, Carol and Kendra were talking, consent forms were signed, resources were shared, and Kendra made it official that she was now able to assist in Anne’s journey. Over the spring, summer, and into the start of the fall, Kendra and I were in constant communication. Her primary role was to identify clinical trials that Anne could be eligible for, should that be something Anne wanted, but there was so much more that Kendra provided. Every contact began and finished with encouraging words. Every question we asked was answered, and if Kendra had to look something up, her response came back shortly thereafter. In a word, she was reliable. When everything was shifting, having Kendra a phone call or email away was a much-needed foundation.
Anne is now beyond her standard of care and maintenance treatments and is overseen by Dr. Garth Nicholas at the Cancer Centre of the Ottawa Hospital. We have had to say goodbye to Kendra as Anne’s nurse navigator, but not goodbye to the person who has become a friend. She is someone I can still call or email with an update on Anne’s progress or news of the family in general.
Thank you, Brain Tumor Network and Kendra Paabo, for providing our family a lifeline when we needed it the most.