If you know me, you’d know that I am one of those incredibly fortunate people who have a great relationship with their parents. I had a good childhood and I have very happy memories that will last me the rest of my life. As an adult, I have been able to maintain that same relationship with my parents. When they hurt, I hurt.
So when my father was diagnosed two years ago with an Acoustic Neuroma, which is a very rare brain tumour, it wasn’t just devastating for him and my mom, it crushed all of us. If you have ever fallen on your back and had the wind forced out of you, you know the feeling I had when we found out.
Acoustic Neuroma is not only rare, thankfully it is also benign. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t leave its lasting impact. Although it grows slowly, the tumour sits on the primary nerve that extends from the inner ear to the brain (thus the name). Given the tumour’s location, it is extremely common to experience symptoms such as hearing loss, ringing in the ears or decreased mobility. Permanent paralysis is also not uncommon. This condition can also be extremely painful. By the time my father was diagnosed, the doctor informed us that his tumour was already rather large. Despite surgery to remove it, he completely lost hearing in the ear where the tumour developed.
As my normally invincible father lay in his hospital bed at his most vulnerable with an enormous incision on the side of his head, a million thoughts ran through my brain. “Did they get it all?”, “Will his facial paralysis be permanent?”, “Will he recover fully?”, “Will he have the strength to go through the long road of physical therapy?”, and, the one that nobody likes to admit they ask, but in this circumstance we all do it, “Why did this happen to my dad?”
Following the surgery, he began physical therapy. He had to essentially relearn how to do things that his body had always known how to do. I have to tell you, if I weren’t already impressed by his willpower, watching him progress so quickly often left me thinking that there is absolutely nothing the human spirit can’t achieve with the right mindset and cheerleaders behind them. In his physical therapy sessions, there were men half his age who were complaining that the exercises were too tough. And then there was my father, who persisted no matter how difficult it was for him. The physical therapist told him that he would have to use his walker for a month after the surgery before moving on to a cane. Not my dad! He cut that down to two weeks. He approached each new exercise with the same determination and humour. Each time he did, we cheered him on louder and louder. When he was uncertain of something or even fearful, instead of expressing stoicism, he made jokes.
It’s been two years since the tumour was removed and although dad lost his hearing, still experiences extremely painful episodes and sometimes has balance difficulties, he certainly hasn’t slowed down. Today, we look back and recall how he fought like a trooper through the entire ordeal. We never stopped supporting him, and like everything we do, we did it as a family and dad kicked that tumour in the behind.
Until next time,
Peace, love and vitamin C!
Jennifer Pretty began her career as the director of artist development for a well-known Canadian music label. Branching out on her own, she then started her own PR business “Pretty Media Management” planning and hosting various charity, entertainment and fashion events. As a dance and fitness class enthusiast Jennifer is a firm believer in the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. She also loves to cook, travel, spend time with family and friends and most importantly living life to the fullest!