Brain Tumor - Testimonial

I Could Hardly Say the Words:

My Daughter Has Cancer: Richard’s Story by Tricia Ann Roloff


Navigating through a Strange Land.  Richard’s daughter was diagnosed with a ganglioneuroma. She had surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, and is doing well. He wrote this story for Search when I was an editor. He and his family live in the valley, east of San Francisco. I suppose that the most important part of solving any problem is to identify it, label it and then outline a course of action. I remember in November of 1984, the neurologist telling us. "Your daughter has a deposit in the basal ganglia of her brain. It could be a calcium deposit or maybe a cyst." He went all around the word "tumor" as if we couldn’t handle it, He was almost right. It was damn hard to handle.

I came home, back to my radiator and muffler shop, and called my banker. With tear in my eyes and a shaking voice, I asked his for enough money to run the business for six months, because I knew one of my little girls was going to need all of us by her side. God bless my banker and our small town for the support which we got.

It wasn’t until early in 1985 that I finally realized the problem and was able to say it, "My daughter has cancer." I think I did every thing I could in the first two months to avoid saying that. I kept my mind occupied with the problems, the many trips to San Francisco, the arrangements that had to be made, our young daughter, Stephanie; almost anything to keep from saying, "Leslie had a brain tumor." I’m pretty good at fixing things. It took me a long time to realize they couldn’t just cut this thing out. They couldn’t just fix it.

One starts to ask the same question every parent asks. Why my kid? Why us? Cancer in kids is something that happens in big cities, not small town folks like us. We eat simple, eat fresh food and live healthy lives. Heck, Leslie is a class one athlete. She races an 80KX Kawasaki. She's no wimp!. But you know what, cancer doesn’t care about that.

So, at this point, your family finally becomes one. You tell your friends, your families, your church that you need their thoughts and prayers. You become as tough as your kid and say –and most important know-that your "pride and joy" is going to beat this problem. Your learn about radiation and chemotherapy. Your dinner conversations include words and terms that you never knew existed.

You meet other people from different parts of the state, nation and world with problems that make yours look small in comparison. Then you say, "thank you Lord for letting us handle this and steering us in the right direction." You learn to accept that some of the kids you’ve met might not make it. But not your kid, because you know she will, The word is attitude, You must be positive.

Well, Leslie has made it, and made it well. She was on the honor roll her entire sophomore year and also on the high school track team. Her special event is the low hurtles. She had a bad fall at the first of the season but came bouncing back at the end. She is currently Cotton Queen in Corcoran , our town. She is past Honored Queen of Job’s Daughters and does an excellent job in her memory work. She conducts the meeting well and has spoken before such groups as the Chamber of Commerce of Corcoran and has received a standing ovation. When she graduated from eight grade, she received the American Legion Award. She accepted it in a beautiful dress and almost no hair, but I don’t think anyone noticed the lack of hair.

Yes, we’re proud of both of our daughters. We are thankful for the strong attitudes and an amazing will to live. Leslie has a tremor remaining on her right side, not bad, but it makes for a good laugh to watch her carry drinks in her right hand. She has gone from right-handed to left, and her memory is not as great as it once was. But that’s what note pads are for. Parents, it doesn’t make it any easier, but what you feel, we all feel. When my daughter gets ‘down" I remind her-and me- of the motorcycle racers’ motto, "when in doubt, you’ve got to go for it."

Reprinted with permission from Navigating Through a Strange Land: A Book for Brain Tumor Patients and Their Families by Tricia Ann Roloff, former editor National Tumor Foundation , Indigo Press 1995,P.O. Box 968, West Fork, AR 72774-0968. Phone: 888 294-8127