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A Success Story - Treasure Byrge

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Treasure Bryge      

Treasure is attending Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio, majoring in Pre-Physical Therapy and Psychology.  Her experience with cancer and the dedication of her physical therapists during her recovery have helped Treasure decide her career path.  She is a Subpendymal Giant Cell Astrocytoma [SEGA] Brain Tumor survivor.  In her own words:

“Going through life, you never anticipate an illness to be cast upon you, especially as a child... You're young, you have a full life ahead of you, you're invincible.  What you expect is almost never what you end up receiving.  On December 12, 2006 (age 10), my life was radically transformed, and I could not have asked for a better outcome. 

The day started off as any other.  I was at school and nothing seemed out of place.  I felt as if I were in perfect health, until I was preparing for my physical education class.  I suddenly felt terribly sick; a nauseous feeling had taken over my body and I felt increasingly weak.  I could hardly keep my eyes open.  I was lying on the bathroom floor with a teacher by my side, and from then on, I remember very little. 

I was taken in a Life Flight helicopter to Rainbow Babies and Children's' Hospital where I was given an emergency craniotomy.  My mother told me that I would most likely not awaken after surgery for days, and I would most likely need to be re-taught my basic functions.  I can only imagine the type of distress and panic that my mother was feeling when she was told that news.  Miraculously, very soon after my surgery, I was not only awake, but also calling for my mother.  As a family, we were clueless.  There had never been any signs that I had a tumor the size of a softball within my brain; but how could we have known.  My surgeon informed us that I had Subpendymal Giant Cell Astrocytoma and that my tumor had most likely been growing since birth.  After my extended stay in the hospital, we returned home to live a normal life; as normal as possible, of course.  Monthly visits to the hospital had become a part of our routine, and each nurse became a trusted friend. 

My journey with cancer has been one of the most enlightening and positive experiences of my life thus far.  Through our frequent visits with the oncologists, neurologists and various other medical specialists, I have developed many connections.  It is a rather heart-warming feeling whenever I walk into the doors of Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital.  Familiar faces that have been working with me since 2006 are always there to welcome me.  I know that whenever I have an appointment that I will run into an individual who is excited to hear about my progress and is willing to chat.  Every medical professional that I have dealt with through my experience has displayed such compassion, which has inspired me to further that same sense of importance that they supply their patients with. 

During my treatment, the physical therapists worked closely with me to ensure that I was up to par with all of my functions.  I was lucky enough to not need much assistance in that area, but it brought me to the realization of how many individuals are dependent on such services.  My time with the physical therapists was extremely pleasant, and my personal health felt as if it had significant value.  At the time, I thought it was silly that they put so much effort into making sure that I could write and match colors; but as I have matured, I have learned the importance of such exercises.  Not everyone has the privilege of performing such tasks and not everyone is able to recover after brain surgery with such ease.  For many, their quality of life is utterly dependent on the work of a physical therapist. 

To have these dedicated workers throw themselves into their work so wholeheartedly is a blessing.  Becoming a physical therapist would be such a tremendous honor.  I can only hope that I can impact the lives of others as much as the medical staff at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital has impacted mine. 

This has also inspired me to volunteer in many different ways:  Maggie's Place (women's shelter), the local Red Cross, the National Honor Society with bingo at Mount Alverna nursing home, a disaster relief mission trip for Hurricane Sandy, and prom night at Cafe Disco for adults with disabilities. 

Although cancer is a life-threatening illness that plagues our Earth, I can honestly say that having cancer has shaped me as a person - for the better.  Through my personal encounters, I have been taught the great importance of dedication, attention to detail, and compassion.  So many individuals came to my aid in my time of need and are continuously there to support me.  I have created relationships with so many wonderful people and have sculpted my own values and career goals around them.  Although being diagnosed with cancer may have not been ideal and surely was a huge strain on my entire family, an abundance of unexpected, wonderful personal growth and opportunities have rooted from my experience.           

Thank you, Cancer Survivors' Fund, for partnering with me as I become the best Physical Therapist I can be.”

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