My first remembrance of my migraines was in the 2nd grade on the playground. I was accidentally hit by another classmate while they were coming off the slide. From there on my headaches became progressively worse. During this time I had a sever nightmare of a pink worm protruding from the wall by my bedroom. I had an extremely high temperature and had to be put in the bath tub with lots of ice. I know now this was a hallucination from the tumor. By the time I was 11 years old in 5th grade my headaches had become violent. I had an extreme case of a migraine once a week with vomiting. I was visiting the doctor at least once a week. Finally in April of 1992 while in 5th grade I was leaving for school one morning and had the worse attack I had ever had. While going outside to catch the bus with my brothers on the steps of our house I began vomiting profusely. I was brought back in and put on the couch with a wet rag on my head, shaking, and was blood red. The same day I was taking to our family doctor Dr. Kevin G. Kelly in Russellville Alabama. After he was told what happened he turned out the lights in my patient room and shined a light in my eyes. After the appointment I was scheduled for an MRI in Muscle Shoals Alabama, I didn’t know what an MRI was but I would become very well acquainted with it. When finally my parents received the results of the MRI they were told I had a mass on my brain. I was in the room my parents begin crying and so did I. I really did not know what was wrong I just cried mostly because they did.
We were scheduled to go to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham Alabama immediately after that. We arrived at children’s hospital Friday May 1st of 1992 and had to sign in at the emergency room because it was late in the evening. I was immediately put into the ICU unit at children’s with regular doses of steroids to shrink the tumor. I stayed in the unit till Monday the 4th when I had my surgery. I had a 12 hour surgery. When I regained consciousness after my surgery I was on life support. The strangest feeling I will ever know was waking up with a tube in my throat. I could not see well but I could see the nurses around me putting in IVs. I had numerous IVs all over my body. I stayed on life support for an unnamed amount of time because I really had no recognition of time while in ICU. I know I was in ICU for 9 days that is all I can tell you. After a while the nurses came and extracted my life support tube (bad feeling). Shortly after extracting it my lungs collapsed and they had to put the life support back in (worse feeling). For days the nurses had to suck mucus from my lungs with suction. During this time my mother learned it was indeed cancer that I had.
The type of tumor was ependymoma
The doctor that had done the surgery Dr. Lewis Harris told my parents it was the size his fist. After 9 days I left ICU and went into a regular room in children’s. I was in the hospital for 6 weeks had numerous MRIs, Physical and occupational therapy, spinal taps, and sleep studies. I also had to have a feeding tube put in my stomach because I was aspirating my food. I was told I would never eat again but I became able to eat a couple of months after I went home and the tube was removed. After I was released from Children’s I had to take radiation for 6 weeks 2 times a day. My mother and I stayed at The Ronald McDonald house in Birmingham during my treatments and went home on weekends. I had to have regular MRIs till I was 21 and then was cut off from children’s because I lost my insurance. School was hard but tolerable, and I went to college a few years at first for general education and then for PC hardware and Software tech. I thank GOD I can hold down a full time job and work as much as I want. My only true disability is my total loss of hearing in my right ear which I lost shortly after surgery. I wear a hearing aid in my left ear.
I am a survivor of cancer now going on over 20 years. I account my blessings on GOD who had many wonderful Christians from Eastside church of Christ in Russellville and all over Franklin County praying for me during my time in the hospital. I also owe my life to my wonderful surgeon Dr. Lewis Harris at Children’s and Dr. Kevin G. Kelly for finding my tumor. Being a survivor has not been easy cancer never leaves you. It is in the back of your mind permanently. I have met many wonderful, strong, and beautiful survivors over the years from hospitals such as Children’s Hospital, St Jude’s Hospital, and Cancer Treatment Centers of America. From cancer survivor camps such as:
Camp Smile a mile in Alexander city Alabama
Middle Tennessee Camp Blue bird
Camp Bluebird at Decatur General
Camp Mak A Dream in Gold Creek Montana
I have lost a lot of my friends and cried for them but I remember the wonderful memories we had and I wouldn’t trade anything for what has happened to me. I have met some of the strongest people I will ever know. Also my mother is a survivor now and I love her very much she is a very strong women.
Kevin Poston Cancer Survivor Journey