Turning to the positive

I believe we can find advancement in the treatment of GBM

My name is Sarah Kenny and I am a patient with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a very aggressive type of brain cancer. I would like to share my story with you.

Everything started in the spring of 2018. I started feeling confused and I had a feeling that something wasn’t right. I was living a busy life, so I thought that I might be burning out. Two weeks later I found myself in the hospital with the dreaded diagnosis of a brain tumour.

I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me. I had always been so careful with my health. I was a vegetarian; I exercised regularly; I biked to work everyday. How could this happen to me? It just didn’t make sense.

GBM is an incurable cancer with a very grim prognosis. Even with aggressive treatments, the average prognosis is less than one year. Some newer treatments are giving a sense of hope, but unfortunately nothing has proven to be a great success. Despite many years of research, there is still so much to learn.

The last two years have felt like a rollercoaster, filled with highs, a lot of lows, and deeper lows. My first brain surgery was a success. My neurosurgeon managed to remove the two tumours I had and I still had perfect speech and memory, something he had warned me could be affected. Radiation treatments followed, along with chemotherapy. Life went on and at times I felt like I didn’t have cancer anymore.

Every three months I would get a brain MRI to look for a recurrence, a new growth. A full year went by with only good news from my doctors. But one day, as predicted, a new growth appeared and left me feeling frightened and powerless, living with a dark cloud over me, over my family. I felt like my life was holding on by a thread.

I then had a second surgery and I tried another type of chemotherapy. Perhaps I could beat the odds and get rid of this once and for all. Yet again the cancer progressed. This time it was inoperable.

This is when I realized that I wanted to help. I thought of all the anger, pain and suffering that this terrible disease caused me and I decided to turn it into hope. I let myself dream and I imagined a world where a treatment for GBM was curative, where I would get to see my grand-daughter grow up, where I would spend many more years along side my husband, family and friends, many more Christmases, birthdays, and trips up to our cottage. I think of all the patients that are afflicted by this disease, and more so all the future patients whose lives will be forever changed.

I believe we can find advancement in the treatment of GBM, that we can maybe someday find a cure. I am so grateful for the unbelievable care provided to me by my neurosurgeon Dr. Petrecca, my oncologist Dr. Owen and my radiation oncologist Dr. Panet-Raymond. I believe in The Neuro and their team of researchers that are working tremendously hard on making a difference for us. More than anything, I believe that we can all make a difference. I created the Sarah Kenny Research Fund in the hopes of making a difference in this world and I hope that you can find it in your hearts to join me and all the other patients afflicted by this disease.

It is when we are most profoundly challenged and tested by life that we experience the sort of creative vision that can improve this world, for after all, “there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

Sadly, Sarah Kenny passed away on January 22, 2021 (A celebration of Sarah Kenny)

Please consider making a donation in Sarah’s memory to support research for GBM: https://bit.ly/32XxdUA


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The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) is a bilingual academic healthcare institution. We are a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high-quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. We are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.




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