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It was a weekday morning in October 2001. Kim Zuchorra began experiencing "weird" symptoms such as vertigo and numbness in her left leg.
As a busy mother of two, she did not have time to go to a doctor. So, she ignored these signs. But, her symptoms continued. Disoriented and sick, she hastily parked the family car as she dropped her children off at school. Inside, she vomited. This was no ordinary flu.
"I had to go to work by noon, but I was convinced by the principal to go to the hospital. I had a CAT scan. They wanted to see what was going on. So they put me in the scan and afterward they asked how I was feeling. Immediately as they asked, I went into a Grand Mal seizure."
That's when doctors knew something was wrong. CAT scans confirmed that Kim had a mass on her brain.
"When I woke up, the doctor said I had a lesion or a tumor and he told me to go to the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center. I did not believe him."
Within days, Kim had surgery, then radiation and chemotherapy with the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center team. The coordination of this team allowed for complete removal of the tumor.
Because of the tumor's size, its removal also affected her balance and ability to walk. It took months of physical therapy. But eventually she was able to return to work.
As in so many brain tumor cases, the treatment did not end there.
Necrosis, a side effect of radiation, showed up on a follow-up MRI. This required more surgery and more physical therapy. But, Kim persevered. The road to recovery was never easy, but she appreciates the team that helped through her journey.
"I knew I had to be there for my kids. You just don't accept the negative. I had to fight like hell."
With uncommon strength and persistence, Kim made it through cancer treatment and therapy to see both of her children finish high school. Despite some physical limitations, she maintained the same job from her initial diagnosis and is thankful for each bi-annual MRI that comes back clear.
"Not everyone is as lucky as me. I am very grateful. If you get this diagnosis, you don't give up. You have to believe you are going to make it through. You have to say 'I can' not 'I can't.'"