One in a million.

On November 10, 2014, I heard the words "you have a cancer tumor on your spinal cord."  (deep breath).

When the dust settled and after weeks of tests then a long surgery to remove the tumor, I was given my exact diagnosis of an Intramedullary Ependymoma Grade 2.  You have a one in a million chance of being diagnosed with an ependymoma in your spinal cord as an adult (even more rare as a woman). It's actually more common as a pediatric brain tumor. And I can't think of a better reason to walk than that.

So, we walk for the infants, the kids and the adults who have been diagnosed with one of a several hundred types of brain and spinal cord tumors. Once you are diagnosed, and are treated with surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy, life is never the same.  You see, brain and spinal cord tumors are the only cancer types that are both a cancer and neurological disease.  The side effects from these tumors range from cognitive issues to speech to motor skills with hands, legs, feet; not to mention digestive and internal functions.  These side effects are dependent upon the location of the tumor and it's progression.

My tumor was benign. But my struggle is far from over. We are not certain of my total recovery. And I live with the chance of it reoccurring anywhere in the central nervous system (CNS). A reminder my husband, Tom, and I live with every 3-4 months; eventually every 6 months, then yearly.  And the anxiety of these check-ups never goes away.  For either of us.

So we also walk for the heroes known as parents, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, siblings and friends who help care for us as we struggle to walk again, to talk again, to connect again.  They are on the battlefield with us fighting for normalcy in their life again, too.  But also accepting their "new normal" with us. 

So join us to Walk, Talk and Connect.

Tom & Kathy (and Nelli)