Four years ago this month, I had a grand mal seizure during a birthday party. I spent the weekend hospitalized, waiting for answers. After what felt like the longest weekend of my life, I was diagnosed with Grade 2 Diffuse Astrocytoma — brain cancer. My doctors told me that I probably wouldn’t make it to age 40.
I had just turned 30, and I had difficulty accepting that the odds were stacked against me. Knowing that I might not be able to watch Kiana, my daughter, grow up left me with a broken heart. It was an overwhelming feeling, one I tried mostly to ignore. Besides, I had other things to deal with like disagreeing doctors, medical bills and treatment options that I couldn’t understand.
Friends noticed that I wasn’t quite dealing with my diagnosis. I joked about it and avoided the discussion entirely at times. They pushed me to contact Livestrong for support. With the help of a Livestrong Navigator, my attitude changed. I may not be able to control my cancer, but I can certainly control the way I react to it. I sought out a new health care team and a doctor that was more concerned about keeping me living than just stopping me from dying.
Livestrong helped me get what everyone needs and deserves: patient-centered cancer care. With the support of my health care team, the fellow survivors I’ve met through Livestrong, and my daughter (who is my constant inspiration to survive) I know that dealing with cancer doesn’t mean I’m done living.
Three months ago, the Foundation announced a partnership with The University of Texas at Austin to establish the Livestrong Cancer Institutes at the Dell Medical School. Kiana and I attended the announcement and learned that the goal of the Institutes is to create a new model of care that focuses on every aspect of a person’s experience with cancer. I know what Livestrong did for me, and I have complete faith that this partnership will change lives.
Livestrong has been there for us during it all. Though I?m not sure what tomorrow will bring, I know that Livestrong will always have my back.
Thank you for fighting with me and for the people we love.
Iram, brain cancer survivor
Originally published at endpoint89551e0f.chios.panth.io on December 29, 2014.