Cindy Heatherly is my youngest sister, in fact, the youngest of 6 sisters. She is the most resilient of all of us. Resilience has been her way of approaching anything and everything since she was very young. In fact, as a preschooler she had an imaginary friend that she named “Mighty Power”. Little did we know that her imaginary friend’s name was a foreshadowing of who she was called to be and the mind set needed to live out the challenges that would shape her journey.
Cindy was 22 when she started having daily headaches and dizziness. She had her first MRI in Nov 1999 and a biopsy in Jan 2000. She was diagnosed with a grade 2 oligodendroglioma in her right frontal lobe. She was working full-time and was appropriately going to school to become a surgical technician. Cindy had surgery in May 2000 to remove the tumor. She started radiation in November 2000 while going to school full-time and working full-time.
In August 2008, Cindy found out her brain tumor had returned at the age of 29. She chose to have her 2nd surgery in December 2008. The tumor had infiltrated her motor cortex. Surgeons could not remove the entire tumor due to the location. After surgery, Cindy woke up with temporary hemiparalysis on her left side. She went through occupational therapy and did a significant amount of physical therapy (on her own) at home. Cindy was able to return to work as a surgical technician after 11 weeks. As an added step, Cindy began oral chemotherapy in October 2008. She continued to work full-time as a surgical technician and only missed a handful of days of work during her six months of treatment.
Cindy is now in her 20th year as a survivor and there are no signs of recurrence. Our family celebrates Cindy’s existence every single day. She is our own family miracle and for that we are incredibly grateful.