Heidi was an inspirational speaker at Relay for Life events. She loved telling her story, in hopes that it helped others dealing with cancer and its treatment.
Heidi Bookmarks are available. Email your address to: CRensink@charter.net
Click on "MY STORY" to read more.
Heidi’s story began during the end of her Junior year of high school. We had taken a trip to Kansas City to watch her MN Twins play and she did not feel well the whole trip. Her symptoms included morning headaches and vomiting. Upon our return to Minnesota, an MRI at the Waconia Emergency Room verified a brain tumor. It was May 31, 2004, a night that changed our lives forever.
On June 14, 2004 she had her first craniotomy to remove a tumor in the right frontal part of her brain. A complete resection was made, but the tumor was malignant in nature.
The exact kind could not be determined but was either a high-grade astrocytoma, or a PNET (Primitive Neuro Ectodermal Tumor) type.
As a result of deferring opinions, Heidi was treated for both types of cancer. Following the surgery, Heidi had six weeks of radiation while taking oral chemo, Temodar.
After that she began six months of IV chemo which ended in March of 2005. She did her senior year of high school at home via the internet. In April, she actually attended school and graduated in June that year with her classmates. A very special day, indeed!
Heidi attended college, working towards a degree in nursing, (inspired by those she had at Children's) until her first relapse in August 2007. She then had a second craniotomy for removal of a tumor in the right frontal area, again.
Now, it was determined that her tumor was a glioblastoma, a very aggressive type of brain cancer. Another total resection was done. In September her stem cells were harvested. In October she received high dose chemo, followed by a stem cell transplant in October 2007.
After recovering at home for the next three months, Heidi returned to college, again, in January 2008.
In June 2008, her brain tumor relapsed for a second time. She then had a third craniotomy in July for the removal of a tumor in the right frontal area, again.
This was followed by monthly inpatient intra-arterial chemo treatments, which used (3) chemo drugs together. This treatment regiment took a toll on her blood counts, and was discontinued after 5 months, as the cyles were getting further apart, loosing their effectiveness.
Then in February 2009, the third (and final) relapse.
Surgery is no longer an option. With her previous radiation treatments and three previous surgeries, the incision area would be at great risk for infections and worse things.
So, in March 2009, Heidi started with Avastin, an IV drug administered every two weeks. It interferes with the blood supply to the tumor, possibly slowing the growth, but would not get rid of it.
Our journey continues . . .