Nicholas Folkens Stay Strong Nick Folkens

First post: Oct 29, 2017 Latest post: Oct 21, 2022

On December the 15th of 2012, I woke up at five in the morning, not being able to talk or move the right side of my body. Feeling scared and helpless, I tried crawling to my parent's bedroom; my Dad found me stumbling in the hallway. I was struggling to beat the wall with my entire body, trying to get someone's attention. My parents called 911. The ambulance arrived, and I was brought to the Liberty Children's Hospital immediately. There they told me the paralysis of my right side was from a seizure. After several tests and a CT, the doctors found a large mass on the left side of my brain. They sent me directly to Children's hospitals' main campus. Once I arrived, the doctors ordered an MRI and determined that I had a brain tumor the size of a racquetball. The tumor was about 2 and a quarter inches. The mass located on the left side of my brain in the frontal and parietal lobes. My first thought when I found out I had a brain tumor was, "Am I going to die." Initially, my doctors said that my tumor was inoperable because of the location. My doctors were afraid the procedure would paralyze me if they removed it. After receiving a functionally MRI, my doctor suggested that I still have my brain operation.  My surgery was scheduled for February; they put me on seizure medication and steroids to reduce the swelling in my brain.

After 10 and a half hours of surgery, they were able to remove 70% of my tumor, which was more than the surgeons thought they would get. After I woke up, the right side of my body was paralyzed. I had to work through therapy to regain strength on the right side of my body. Slowly, everything came back except for my right hand. I am right-handed, so that was a massive struggle for me. Also, I couldn't do simple math problems and understand words and their definitions. I still struggle today to use my right hand and sometimes usually when I'm tired, I struggle to process words and get them out, so they sound right. The tumor the doctors found out I had was a grade 2 diffused Astrocytoma.  The tumor is kind of like an egg splattered a crossed my brain that's why they were unable to get it all.

After a week in the hospital, I was able to go home. . Shortly after I was back, I had to leave to go to Bloomington, Indiana, for proton Radiation. The reason I had to go all the way there was because they were worried about damage to memory and my motor strip with standard radiation. Proton Radiation was not offered in Cincinnati yet, although now it is. That would have made my life a lot easier. With Proton Radiation, they can hit the tumor more precisely than standard radiation.

For proton radiation, they fit the mask perfectly to my face to bolt my head down, not allowing me to move and to stay perfectly still. I had 30 radiation retreatments, and each retreatment lasted about 45 minutes. I was there for seven weeks and came home on the weekends. The goal was to stop the tumor from growing, but they weren't able to shrink it. During my time in Bloomington, I dealt with many side effects of the radiation, including hair loss, sleeping all of the time, and headaches. I stayed at Jill's house, which is a place for cancer patients who are receiving proton radiation. Jill's house offered me a lot of opportunities to keep my mind off the retreatments.

After these treatments, I headed off to Archbishop Moeller High School and was a way able to have a relatively healthy life with MRI scan checkups only a couple times a year. Everything remains stable throughout my time at Moeller, but after graduating and in the summer of leading into my first year of college at Xavier University, a brain scan showed growth of my tumor. This lead to the doctors debating whether to do surgery to decrease the size again.

In December of 2017, it was decided that I would need to undergo another surgery to remove a section of my tumor and would need to do another form of treatment to stop the tumor from continuing to grow. The doctors decided that the best option would be to start chemotherapy after the surgery. The surgey which had many of the same effects my first surgery had which was partial paralyzation on the right side of my body. I again had to go for many different therapies to regain strength, along with many issues with language and speech. A month after my second surgery, my monthly chemotherapy treatments began during the second semester of my freshman year. In the beginning, everything was going smooth and not a lot of the chemo side effects where kicking in, but part way through when I was almost done with my first year of college I began to get very sick. I did not realize the toll that chemotherapy would actually have on my body. Months into my treatments, my blood counts lowered, and I began to feel extremely nausea for most of the remain treatments. I soon could not step foot into any medical facility without feeling like I was going to vomit. The support of family and friends helped me push through the harsh period in my life.

After one year of chemotherapy, I still had many challenges to overcome with my body still having to recover for months to come. I was improving fast with my blood counts going up, and my body soon feeling back to normal. The doctors planned out that I will be checked up every three months with an MRI. Unfortunately after seven months of recovery, they discovered my tumor has began to grow again. I recently received word that I would need to endure another year of chemotherapy treatment. My story is not done, I plan to push through and overcome any of the odds thrown my way. . .

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