Conditions

One Writer’s Incredible Story of Hope, Beauty, and Glioblastoma

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Caroline Wright with her sons, Henry and Theodore. Photos courtesy of Adair Rutledge.

The thing about terminal cancer is that sometimes you don’t feel sick.

“I feel, weirdly, completely healthy,” Caroline Wright of Seattle said, 6 months after receiving a diagnosis of glioblastoma, a very aggressive brain cancer, in February 2017.

Feeling Strangely Fine

“It’s very strange, and part of the reason I am so fascinated, on a daily basis, with the topic of my cancer,” Caroline said. “It’s not something being put in front of me all the time. I forget that I have terminal cancer.”

Just 32 years old, with a husband, two children under the age of 5, a thriving career as a food writer, editor cook and stylist, and fresh off a fully funded Kickstarter campaign to create a children’s book, Caroline had been experiencing headaches, fogginess, and disorientation for a few weeks before her diagnosis.

Shocking Diagnosis

A week after an MRI revealed a mass, Caroline underwent surgery. A week after that, she was diagnosed with brain cancer.

Caroline’s CaringBridge website began with profound and prolific updates. “I needed a place to dump all this information, so people would stop calling and texting me,” Caroline said. “CaringBridge rose up to meet me.”

Tactical and Emotional

Caroline said the tenor of her Journal has naturally morphed from tactical details surrounding brain cancer surgery and treatment to a wide-ranging, soul-searching, emotional-but-not-self-pitying litany of topics. Such as …

  • What it’s like to attend “Old Lady Yoga”(empowering)
  • “Things I Don’t Give a S— About Anymore” (her eyebrows, the existence of the Kardashians, being thin, the tan she gets from her Keen shoes).

Caroline and her family before her cancer diagonsis.

Living in the Super-Present

Glioblastoma patients generally are told they won’t live much longer than a year after diagnosis. But 6 months in, Caroline plans to surpass that, with no signs of her cancer present at this time.

“I am negotiating this very strange space, what it means to be a mom and a super-present and creative person who is always thinking about what’s next,” Caroline said. This is what led her to create another Kickstarter, this time to turn her CaringBridge posts into an heirloom-quality memoir for her children, family and friends.

Parenting Loophole

“When it comes to the fact that I have two little children, my 4 year old, Henry, might remember me before my illness, but my Theodore won’t,” Caroline said. “In fact, he might not remember me at all. I’m writing all of this stuff so they know, if I do in fact die soon, that I fought like hell, that this is what it looked like, and what I was thinking … that I didn’t want to go.”

And she’s embracing a different view on talking about fear and death.

“There is this idea in our society that we can’t talk about fear and death without it looking like you are someone as giving up,” she said, describing writing her way through this as a “weird parenting loophole.”

Caroline took the bull by the horns when it came to chemo hair.

Mom vs. Patient

“The mom thing to do is to plan if I die. How would my kids be taken care of emotionally? I’m doing what I can to participate in that. People have been giving me s— about that death part of it, but I don’t see there’s any other way to do it,” she said.

And of course, it’s not so much a conversation about death as it is about truly living.

“This doesn’t feel like dying, but rather my humanity,” she said. “The whole, full-fledged view as a mom and writer and person is being called upon and I’m getting this opportunity at this place to write it. I’m immortalizing it and documenting it, to pass it on to my kids.”

The Space in Between

And if she lives?

Caroline said, “I get to pull this book off the shelf and read it and think, ‘Man, that was so hard.’ Regardless, my kids will have this personal and intimate view of their mom during the craziest, scariest part of her life, and the part of my life, where I’m still negotiating the space between aggressive cancer and being realistic about what that could mean, but also being honest and creative in that space.”

True Bravery

When Caroline learned she had the mass, she called her Swiss brother, Jonas, for support. Crying and railing against “being this mom in a hospital gown,” Jonas offered a different perspective. “Jonas said, ‘You’re showing them what a superhero is like, what true bravery is, and you get to do that.’ It’s not a conscious thing, but it does flip everything on its head.”

Caroline is beginning to compile her CaringBridge posts into the book, but she plans to write through her first prognostic year, then begin production.

Beautiful Book

She has a small team in place to carry out her wishes, should she not survive to see the project through, and on her Kickstarter page, she outlined what she would approve of in terms of its sale or profit if the desire is there.

Regardless, her wise, honest words will be lovingly bound and covered, emblazoned on thick paper, enumerated with foil-stamping (for the limited edition), with the features book lovers appreciate—and that her sons will especially treasure, the heft of their mother’s well-lived life, in her own words.

Silver Linings Person

In the meantime, she is living with her characteristic buoyant outlook. Free of her usual cookbook deadlines, she’s experimenting with an anti-inflammatory diet in her kitchen, sourcing ingredients at the farmer’s market, writing daily, and spending time with her children.

“It’s a pretty beautiful place, and it’s a quiet, introspective place, and these structures [of family and friends and CaringBridge] have held me up to feel these things, which is great,” she said. “Crazy, scary, and great. I’m a silver linings person. I’m sort of an unstoppable person.”

Comments (33)

Post a Comment

Tim Reagan Nov 28, 2017 4:49pm
Stay strong Caroline. I'm on the front lines with you in the fight against GBM. I'm a grade IV and so far one year...staying positive is a critical ingredient and you seem to have that in your favor. Good luck
Norma Ashby Nov 04, 2017 9:54pm
What a beautiful and inspiring story. Thanks for sharing. Norma Ashby, Great Falls, Mt.
B Nov 04, 2017 7:24pm
As a Mom of a GBM son .. how is your Mom doing?
Dorothy Brown Nov 04, 2017 6:26pm
You are a wonderful inspiration to your sons . Your book will show how much you love them and will comfort them throughout their life. You are a brave and strong person and I hope my prayers will help you through your journey, a long one, I pray.
Janet Schlein Nov 04, 2017 3:01pm
Reading this makes me so proud of you for expressing your self in such beautiful and meaningful words for me and everyone else (including your great and wonderful boys) to read. My prayers and many other prayers are going your way.
Judy Brumbaugh Nov 04, 2017 7:08am
Caroline so brave and strong...prayer help and miracles do happen. I have seen miracles happen...with our son-in-law... and we are still praying. Sending prayers and hugs 🤗 Judy Brumbaugh Blanchester, Ohio
Michael Ehrenberg Nov 03, 2017 11:34pm
Caroline!!! We love you! Don't even care that I don't know you! You are living LIVING LIVING...and your spirit is so inspiring and infectious! I can't wait to read more!!! Have had many friends on the Caring Bridge and i am a donor as well! Love to you from me and my husband Stephen in Los Angeles! Michael
Joan Emerson Nov 03, 2017 10:43pm
I applaude the beautiful soul that Caroline is. So wise and thoughtful at such a young age. All of us can learn from her. Being able to see beyond ourselves, and seeing the “ silver lining” in place of the alternative.
Janis Lynn Boyer Nov 03, 2017 10:09pm
I love your self-description as "a silver linings person" and you certainly are. With great admiration for you and uplifting prayers for "an unstoppable person."
Chris Milsom Nov 03, 2017 10:04pm
Bless you, Caroline, for having the presence of mind and ability to set this up for your children. My husband was diagnosed Jan. 3, 2017 with Glioblastoma as well. He is a singer-songwriter and the smartest, funniest person I have ever known. Sadly, it has affected his memory and focus to the point he seems like he has Alzheimer's. We have had a very rough year but his spirit and mine are strong. Caring Bridge has been a huge help to us as well. Best wishes to you and your family!
Thomas Helm Nov 03, 2017 9:54pm
My thoughts and prayers are with you
Sister Lois Wedl, OSB Nov 03, 2017 8:26pm
Thanks dear Caroline for being so courageous. The etymology of courageous .."cour" part-is heart - in French- couer; in Spanish= Corazon; in Latin =cor. Because you are so courageous, you "put heart into everyone... (En-courage ==put heart into) Blessings dear Caroline. I will add you to my ever-growing length of wonderful "courageous" people I pray for every night. BLESSINGS! Sister Lois Wedl, OSB Saint Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph, Minnesota
Susan Mele Nov 03, 2017 8:07pm
Can't wait to read Kick Start. Your story, as I'be just seen, is awfully beautiful & your story is life more than death..so I'm sure your book will be productive & meaningful to many forever. Best of everything, every minute, everyday.
Joan Nov 03, 2017 7:45pm
My heart goes out to you, Caroline. May God bless you and your family always.
Vicky Dethloff Nov 03, 2017 6:09pm
Wow. This is a wonderful story!
Jeff Oct 16, 2017 5:51pm
Dear Caroline, I too have a GBM-4 (caringbridge/jeffglathe). I admire your spunk and don't give a sh$! Attitude. Keep it up and out live all expectations!!! Remember that strength is found in the mind, not always in the body. 🖖 (Spock) ✌️ (To you and your family) 🖕-cancer (sorry not kid appropriate) - my opinion!
Stacy Guthrie, Blue Ridge, GA Sep 13, 2017 1:40pm
God can heal anyone of anything. He also has a plan in store for all of us. We do not understand now, but later we all will. I wish you well and have faith in your journey until you reach that destination.
Kevin son Sep 02, 2017 3:47pm
Awesome, story i love it. Thanks for sharing this with us. I am subscribing your blog for daily updates.
Ogochukwu Onuoha Aug 31, 2017 4:45pm
It's a most inspiring story. I congratulate her on her recovery.
Martha Anderson Aug 31, 2017 11:34am
Praying for you today that God would continue to sustain you and heal you and that you would know his perfect peace . Martha
ginny b Aug 31, 2017 6:49am
you are one brave lady.. I am very sick also but I cry a lot and find it hard to do anything I don't give a S// about those stupid things either I just want to breathe Thanks, Ginny
Carole Aug 30, 2017 3:54pm
Absolutely love you! Such an inspiration to someone who doesn't always grab at the positive...thank you for that...I could say so much more, but I believe you've said it all...😌
Cynthia Thomas Aug 30, 2017 11:25am
What a beautiful outlook on life. I would love to buy and to read your book.
Lesley Arnold Aug 30, 2017 8:04am
You inspired me this morning, Caroline. I will pray for you and your sweet family. Thank you for sharing your story - and your attitude.
Ann Aug 30, 2017 4:06am
I hope things go well for you and your family. God performs miracles. We have to believe, have faith. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.
Jacqueline Davis Aug 30, 2017 1:50am
Caroline my daughter went through this, she was 31 when diagnosed, she gave it a good fight made it 6 years. Five of those years she was fine. She lived! You fight honey give it the fight of your life .Let those boys remember their strong loving loving mommie. Take Care
claudia callahan Aug 29, 2017 10:46pm
I am soooooooooo impressed with you! You are amazing and your plan is fantastical!!! Your boys will cherish your life story forever. If it is released to the public I will also read it! Thank you for sharing your life with us. Peace, Prayers and love, Claudia Callahan
Judith Davies Aug 29, 2017 10:08pm
Your life is a blessing to so many people and I do hope and pray that you may be blessed with a full recovery. The odds are not great we know, but I wish you many terrific days ahead. You are quite an inspiration. I too, am recovering from a small external cancer which is hopefully healed completely, but we know each day is precious! You look beautiful! God bless you and yours!!
Kimberly Metz Aug 29, 2017 7:58pm
Don't forget the eissac tea......loving thoughts and prayers for the superhero!
Alex Martinez,Sr Aug 22, 2017 10:13pm
My sone Alex has the same type of cancer. It will be 6 months in 09/ 17/17. Since he had his first surgery. He is also autistic and we just found out he had two blood clots in his heart he is a fighter and still strong and growing keep up the good work live adventurous and prosperous as much as you can my son's only 7 years old.
Maureen O'Keefe Aug 16, 2017 8:36pm
You are a super hero, not everyone gets to show their super powers to their children. I mean all Moms have eyes in the back of their head, but most Moms don't really know the lesson of living in the moment and making the most of that moment. I hope someone you know makes you a cape.
Shirley Rundquist Aug 16, 2017 11:58am
My husband just was diagnosed in June, 2017. He is like Nelson Ochs - a grandfather with much he wants to do yet, Wishing you and your family the best in this journey, think the will and the attitude have much to do with the time you have. Enjoy each day.
Nelson Ochs Aug 16, 2017 6:27am
Caroline, I am glad to hear how you are forging ahead. I also have Gleo Blastoma . I will not forget when I was old this and all the negatives all the doctors had told me. I have grand kids and I was not ready for this. I have allot I want to do yet. Much like you I refused to give up and I am still here 20 months later. It has not been easy all the treatments and I find the worst is the many drugs needed and what they do to me. I wish you the best of luck with your battle. I believe attitude means everything. I try to each day as it comes and pretend cancer is not part of me. The thoughts never go away but I will try to do whatever I want and am able to do. My concern is with my wife my care giver who works so hard to make sure all is well with me. I will be praying for you and your family.