Mona writes: Sandra has asked me to write her story – here it is….
“Courage….I always thought I understood what that word meant…..that is, until I met Sandra Vecera and her young son, Tyler. I am both proud and humbled to introduce them to you – here is their victory story. I say “their” because this truly is a story about the two of them, their bond, their love, their resilience.
Sandra was diagnosed in 2011 with Stage 4 glioblastoma, which is the same brain cancer that afflicted former Senator Edward Kennedy. Glioblastomas are usually difficult to treat and many times, patients don’t realize there is anything wrong until they start experiencing more serious side effects, which may include vision problems, seizures, memory loss, and severe headaches.
The first consultation Sandra had was with a doctor in Florida, where she went to be closer to her family. However, that doctor gave her, in her words, an “expiration date” of three months, which Sandra just would not accept. She knew there was more work to do. So, she returned to NY and started the process of exploring other avenues, medical practices, and doctors. She researched and spoke to many people and decided her glioblastoma would best be handled at Duke University Hospital in North Carolina.
Two brain surgeries later, followed by chemotherapy, there was never an option of giving up. The sometimes “why me” questions were quickly replaced with a determination to keep moving forward and she put aside the exhaustion and crippling headaches in order to concentrate on her son, who was only four years old at the time. Tyler only understood that Mommy had a brain boo-boo, but he seemed, even at that young age, to understand the depth of his mommy’s pain. He knew that Mommy couldn’t play all the time with him, or run around with him, but Sandra made every effort to entertain him without having to leave home, and Tyler seemed content to just be near her. He saw her in the scariest moments, being wheeled into the operating room, seeing her head bandaged like a mummy, seeing huge gashes accompanied with dark, rough stitches that would invoke images of monsters – things that would normally scare any child….yet all Tyler wanted to do was be near her. He looked past his own feelings to comfort her. He had said at that time, “Mommy, I know your head hurts. Let me kiss it and take your cancer away”.
Sandra states that Tyler gives her faith, and that creates an incredible strength in her. She is fighting for him. Sandra’s own faith in her healing continues as she has returned to work full time and has assumed a new and challenging role as a data scientist in her company. Her doctors are extremely pleased and amazed at her progress and recovery. They have removed her from most of the medications she was on for her seizures, and although the cancer is not yet in remission, it has been presenting as “non-evidenced” in her latest scans. And that’s good enough for Sandra …there is so much more she wants to do and plans to spend many more years with her son.
From my own personal experience, Sandra’s sparking personality and witty sense of humor are cornerstones of the strength within her. She is open and honest and wants to share her story in the hope that this will help other cancer-afflicted patients to know they are not alone. She displays a courage that I can only hope I will have when I need it most. She wants everyone to understand the moral she teaches her son, Tyler, “If you want something badly enough, you have to believe you can do it”.
And I believe she can….”
Submitted by A New Focus Photography, LLC
New York City, NY