Welcome to the Stories page! Here you can read other peoples stories and even share your own story. Below is my own story and experience with brain cancer. If you would like to share your story on the Cancer Talk website, please feel free to send us an email with your story or enter your details into the box on the right!
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Maggie Miller, 19 Australia
Hi, my name is Maggie Miller, the founder of Cancer Talk. I'm currently 19 years old and a survivor of brain cancer. The start of my journey was when I was just 10 years old and my mother had taken me to get my eyes tested, the tests showed that one of my pupils were slightly bigger than the other one and the optometrist suggested I go to my doctor and get it checked out. After going to the doctor, paediatrician and ophthalmologist they decided it was nothing serious and we should not worry about it. So, of course, we carried on with our lives, I was just a fit, healthy 10-year-old girl who was loving life.
Months went by and I started to occasionally get headaches that would get so bad I would have to stay home from school, these headaches became more regular as time went on so I went and saw my doctor who referred me back to the paediatrician but he was positive there was absolutely nothing wrong I was just a “migraine kid”. After that, the headaches began to get more and more severe to the point where I started seeing and hearing things and constantly vomiting even when I was sleeping! I went back and forwards to the doctors for many weeks with the same outcome of “there's nothing wrong with you” until finally, we saw a different doctor who urged me to get an MRI scan. I got another referral to the same paediatrician who claimed I did not need an MRI scan as there was nothing wrong with me, mum and I had enough of it and we told him we would not leave without an MRI form which he eventually gave us. On the 6th of May 2011 I went in for my MRI scan, by this time I was 11 years old still doing ballet, swimming and netball but that day my life was going to change forever and I had no idea! After I completed my MRI scan we went to the paediatrician to read my results, he called mum, my nan and myself in while my 2 brothers and pop waited outside. We walked into the room and he sat us all down, I had no clue what was about to happen and then he said… “I'm very sorry to say but Maggie you have a brain tumour. As soon as those words came out of his mouth my mum started crying while I just sat there trying to figure out what that meant for me, was I going to hospital? Was I going to die? I really didn’t know.
That afternoon we drove home and started packing to go to the hospital the next morning as it was a 2 hour drive from our home, then at around 9 pm mum received a phone call from the hospital asking us to come down straight away, we grabbed anything we thought we might need and left straight away. We arrived at the hospital at around 11 pm that night, I was so tired and also excited to be honest as I had never been to hospital before! We saw so many doctors that night and by the morning we were already put into a ward. After a few days I went into surgery for the first time ever to have a biopsy on tumour to find out what type of tumour it was and if it was cancerous or not. The results finally came back and I was told I had a grade 4 ependymoma and ganglioma, this also meant I had cancer. The next few weeks I was in and out of surgery to try and get the tumours out which was successful but still leaving a small part in my head, I had so many medications to take and drains coming out of my head it was quite scary for me but I kept being my happy self even on the toughest days. I had my portocath inserted and I was ready to start chemotherapy, I was put in the hospital for my first round of chemo which I believe was the hardest part of my journey, I hated losing my hair so much and I was always so so sick! I had my second and final round of chemotherapy, my chemo was short but I had much stronger doses.
After completing chemotherapy, the doctors believed that they could now go back into my head for the fourth time and get all the tumour out. Unfortunately, this surgery did not go well at all, the surgeons had to stop my surgery halfway through because I was bleeding too much and they needed to give me around 5 bags of blood so I could survive. I woke up very sore and sick from that surgery but 2 weeks later they decided that they would go back in for the fifth and final time to get my tumour out. It was a big success!! My neurosurgeon was able to get all of my remaining tumour out, my family and I were so happy! A month later, to make sure that there were no chances of my cancer coming back, I had 35 radiation treatments that lasted until the 15th of November 2011 the day I completed all my cancer treatment and I was finally free from cancer! I was able to go home and see the rest of my family and eventually go back to school and see my friends. I was very lucky to only have a few side effects from the treatment such as short-term memory loss, fatigue, problems with sleep and endocrine problems. These affect my life every day and I have found it hard to get used to living with these difficulties. Fortunately, I have found ways different strategies and ways of coping and I can't wait to share these with you!
I had a tough journey with cancer but I was very lucky I had good family and friends around me that supported me. I wanted to share my journey with others to show people who are experiencing cancer that you are not alone! If you would like to know more about my journey or ask any question please please feel free to send an email at Cancertalk@hotmail.com Thank you so much for reading my story and for your support for Cancer Talk!
Founder of Cancer Talk