Hi friends! I'm happy to say that despite (super!) unfortunate weather, the inaugural NBTS Central NJ Brain Tumor Walk was a success! It turns out that even cold temps and frigid rain can't keep away awesome people! I'm SO wiped after such a day, but wanted to share my speech for anyone interested. And don't forget, just because the walk is over doesn't mean the fundraising is! As long as brain tumors are still "a thing," there's research to be done--and research requires...?? You guessed it! Lots of cold, hard cash. So if you're still interested in helping, you can access our team page for months to come (here!!!!). So, without further ado....I give you, MY SPEECH (which I barely remember uttering, since my internal dialogue was spending most of the 2.5 minutes reminding myself to breathe and trying not to faint!).
I struggled with what I was going to say here today. I wrote and deleted speech after speech, but no matter how I phrased things, nothing quite spoke to what was in my heart. So in short, I'll explain to you that I am here today, because I'm in love with a man who happens to have a brain tumor. Kenny Courtney is my high school sweetheart, my husband, and an unbelievable father to our three kids. We've been together since we were 17, and this year will be our tenth wedding anniversary. He was diagnosed with an egg -sized tumor on his left frontal lobe almost 4 years ago.
So what does it mean to be his caregiver? It means that every time he's gotten bad news, I've felt sucker punched right next to him. It means that every time he's gotten good news, I've clinked glasses with him in celebration. It’s been driving him to radiation most days when I was 8 months pregnant, and giving birth while his swollen brain had him in a daze. It’s Mommy guilt, that for many a time, my husband’s needs have come ahead of my kid’s. It’s reminding myself that I HAVE to keep going, even when I feel tired or overwhelmed. It means that I schedule our family around chemo treatments, that we live our lives in 3 month increments in between scans, and I feel it's not only my responsibility, but my goal in life to make sure that the is reminded that he has a life to live, not just a tumor to shrink. It’s also learning to appreciate when life is normal. It’s feeling happy on the days that you get to complain about the same things everyone else does; or get to plan things as simple as dinner dates or play dates. It’s making the most of those days where the words “brain tumor” don’t even come into play.
While I’m so proud of not only him, but myself, that we have done all we can to live a normal life, we’ve had our dark times, where we’ve succumbed to the stresses of treating this brain tumor. But every day that we get to wake up and try again, is a blessing that we don’t quickly dismiss.
We are so fortunate that our family is on an upswing, with Kenny’s most recent scan showing positive progress, but there is still more work to be done. I stand up for my husband here today because I'm tired of feeling helpless. I fundraise for the National Brain Tumor Society because the only way to find a cure is to raise money for vital research. So until that cure is found, I’ll keep campaigning for him out here, while he continues his own battle. But it's not just what I do as a caregiver that makes a difference, it's what all of you have done and continue to do. Every time you've shared this event on your Facebook page or Twitter newsfeed, you've spread awareness. With every dollar you've helped raise, you've helped us come one step closer to ensuring my kids never have to tell their kids about brain tumors, and with every person who chose to be here today, you've shown us that we are not alone in this fight. I want to say to all of you, on behalf of all of the families effected by brain tumors here today, thank you. It may not change your world, but it will most definitely change ours.