I started my own health coaching business with E Squared Health after Lifetime let my team go back in 2018. I had been working hard, like really hard to make sure my business took off and I was full of clients in May 2019. I wanted to do this to move my career and to help support/financially take care of our family while Davis was in his last full year of grad school to become a Doctor Chiropractor.
Davis will be graduated in April 2020. In May of 2019, I noticed having a headache often, my often headache turned into every day! Not long after I developed these frequent headaches and after a weekend getaway to St. Louis, Missouri I had a "spit up" episode that I didn't know until July that it was a seizure.
A "spit up" episode for the first time was after washing my face and spitting up in the toilet like I was going to vomit. It felt off, and weird! Before I knew it, it started happening at work, during meetings, with clients, while driving - you name it! I would have to spit up in a cup and I would get really dizzy. After it started happening often I would do it twice or three times a day daily. After the fourth of July during work, I had requested to work from home and would spit up and need to nap between my clients. Part of me thought it was just anxiety so I decided to see an acupuncturist at Northwestern Health Science as soon as possible! I called and got an appointment for 8 am the next day. It felt AMAZING! I had never experienced this before however, it was enough to relax me to really notice what was happening. After my appointment, I got to work and went up the elevator to our floor. As soon as I walked out of the elevator I felt "drunk" so dizzy I could barely keep myself walking straight. My boss knew I wasn't my normal self and asked me to go to the hospital and call my husband to come and get me.
Davis picked me up from St. Louis Park and we drove to the hospital in our hometown in Shakopee. We checked into the emergency room and they observed me quickly enough to know that I needed an MRI. This MRI felt like I was on a spinning rollercoaster ride and had never experienced that before. This appointment was over lunchtime and I was starving before we got our results that Davis went to get me a snack out of a vending machine when the doctor told me for the first time I need to head to Abbott Northwestern Neurology Department because I have a huge tumor in my head. She had high suspicion and may have been concerned it was cancerous. Davis wasn't in the room to hear this for the first time. After she left telling me this awful news I had to share with Davis myself. It broke our hearts. Very emotional.
After checking into the Abbott Hospital in Minneapolis a few hours later we met with a neurologist that chatted with me and after seeing the MRI he had a lot of information to share with me and will be completing a brain biopsy fairly soon to learn. After the surgery is when we learned the tumor was cancerous and the diagnosis was Astrocytoma. My tumor was located on the frontal, temporal and basal ganglia of my brain. We headed back home to heal and waited to meet with a team in Mayo Clinic to learn more about our next steps for brain surgery.
Davis and I met with a neurosurgeon named Dr. Ian Parney at the Mayo clinic and discussed the completion of awake brain surgery and when he would complete this surgery. I officially had brain surgery on August 23rd, 2019 and had completed a bunch of brain exams the day before to understand what will happen the day of the surgery. During surgery, I completed several exams and MRIs to ensure Dr. Parney that everything he was doing was safe and the right parts of my brain to be removing. To be completely honest and open with many of the parts that were completed with my surgery at Mayo is because it was experimental, educational, and is completed by research. Dr. Parney successfully was able to remove 85% of my baseball size tumor by completing the surgery this way instead of not completing it via awake and engaging surgery.
Post-surgery we were at Mayo Clinic for the next 7 days. I was recovering well from the surgery until two days after, I had the biggest seizure I had ever had. I don’t remember much but apparently, it set me back quite a few steps on the road to recovery. The next 5 days were spent slowly getting my ability to speak back. As I began to communicate better I was then allowed to start eating normal food and work towards walking under my own strength. The whole experience there was a blur but I am so grateful I had such a great team helping me.
After having my staples in my head removed from the surgery we started the 6.5-week process of Radiation treatment and Chemotherapy. I would make trips Monday-Friday with the help of my mother Cindy, Davis or Davis’ mother Tricia to complete the radiation impacting my remaining tumor and taking chemotherapy medication each night before bed for the full Sunday-Saturday for those 6.5 weeks. During this process, I felt fatigued and nauseous. I also lost hair and will never be happy about that. But, completed these 6.5 weeks as strong and hopeful for healing as possible.
At this point, I am on my next steps part of the process. I completed another MRI to get an update on my brain from the radiation and see that my brain is looking health and my next steps are to continue to complete chemotherapy for the next 6 months, complete MRI’s for updates every 2 months and know there are chances to potentially need to complete 12-18 months of continued chemotherapy to succeed in the healing of with this plan.
No matter what research says about Astrocytoma I believe at my core I believe even if currently I can’t be healed. God will step up, teach me, and heal me. I believe that our family has taken steps closer to God we already love and love him even more for being there for me during this crazy-emotional-and challenging process. I believe this verse Proverbs chapter 31:25 “She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.”
Thank you so much, Nichole, for sharing your story with all of us. We are proud to be able to stand by you and provide support during this chapter of your life. Be sure to order your bracelets to support Nichole by the end of the day on December 7th! After that, we will be helping another family during their storm.