Brain Tumor Walk: Sydney woman drew strength from daughter during treatment
SYDNEY — Ashley Hareguy had recently returned to work from maternity leave in 2020 when she started noticing something was wrong.
The intensive care nurse was unable to determine what it was, but the married mother-of-one knew something was wrong with her body.
“I went to work on a Monday and I could tell something was wrong with my eyes. I didn’t know if it was because of being a new mom and going back to work, being exhausted, but something was wrong,” said Hareguy, who lives in Sydney.
“Two days later I had double vision and I knew something was definitely wrong. I called my husband back from work.”
It was a Wednesday morning in March 2020 and the start of Hareguy’s brain tumor journey from diagnosis and treatment to living with a glioblastoma brain tumor. That’s why she started participating in the National Brain Tumor Walk.
THE STRENGTH OF HIS DAUGHTER
After her husband returned from work on Wednesday morning, they took their daughter to daycare and went to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.
The doctor ordered an MRI and a large cyst was found on his brain. The cyst was on the tumor, which was detected later.
When told they would be airlifting her to the QEII Health Sciences Center in Halifax for immediate surgery, Hareguy refused.
“Nurses make the worst patients,” she laughed. “I said, ‘No, I’m going to go home, get my daughter ready. Prepare me. “”
Hareguy’s parents drove with her and her husband to Halifax while her sister stayed with her daughter. They arrived at 1 a.m. and Hareguy said the operation took place around 3 p.m. that day.
The surgery removed a large portion of the tumor, but not all of it. Doctors determined that the tumor was a glioblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer that is difficult to treat and incurable.
In April 2020, Hareguy began undergoing daily chemotherapy and 42 rounds of radiotherapy from Monday to Friday.
For six months, it was a rotation of three weeks on and one week off. After that, other treatment plans continued until June 2021. Although it did not disappear, the tumor shrank and remained stable.
“It’s miraculous for my tumor type,” Hareguy said. “Glioblastoma is an ugly tumor and they usually don’t shrink. I’m grateful mine did a little and is stable.”
Along with medical treatment, Hareguy has made sure to have a mental health treatment plan in place and continues to undergo therapy.
“It has an emotional impact on you as well as a physical impact,” she said. “A lot of women and men, I’m sure, and mothers, they don’t want to burden their families…so they’re just trying to get by.”
Hareguy is also grateful for her support system – her husband who “makes her laugh every day”, her girlfriends who are there “every step of the way”, her daughter Josie Rye, 4, from whom she drew strength when things were at their roughest.
“For my family, it’s been a roller coaster ride,” Hareguy said.
Some treatments and medical appointments have to be done in Halifax and Hareguy knows how difficult the trip is with the support of his family. And she knows that not everyone has the same support.
Getting involved in the National Brain Tumor Walk is one way she hopes to help build support for all while raising awareness.
More than 100 people took part in marches against brain tumors in Sydney from Friday to Sunday. The national event took place over the weekend to accommodate people’s schedules, with each team organizing their own march.
Hareguy’s walk with his Smashley’s Beauties team took place Saturday at 2 p.m. at Petersfield Park in Westmount. About 20 people participated and raised $1,832, according to the Brain Tumor Walk website.
In total, the Sydney Walks raised $7,347. Team Angels raised $5,055.24 in another Saturday morning walk at Open Hearth Park.
“There are so many people with brain tumors today, you don’t even realize it,” said team captain Patricia Murphy.
“I don’t think there is enough brain cancer exposure. There are fundraisers for other cancers in general, but I didn’t know there were so many brain cancers and brain tumours. It’s unbelievable.”
Murphy had his eyes opened to this fact after his granddaughter was diagnosed with glioblastoma like Hareguy. Murphy became involved with the Brain Tumor Foundation of Canada.
Team Angels walked about 70 people. This was Murphy’s first year participating in the Brain Tumor Walk and she hopes to continue in the years to come.
“I started thinking, ‘OK, I’m going to raise $500,’ and now we’re at $5,000. I’m very happy with that. I’m very happy with the turnout. We thought it was going to rain , but he doesn’t,” Murphy said.
“Looking at all the people in Canada who, oh my God, have brain tumours… it’s overwhelming. It’s incredible. So I said, if I can help save someone in the future through the research they’re doing, and especially for inoperable brain tumors… that’s why (I participated).”
Age: 36 years old
Career: Registered Critical Care Nurse
Married: Nick Hareguy
Daughter: Josie Rye, 4
Drawn strength from: His daughter
Suggests viewing treatment as: work
Advice for others with brain tumours: take it day by day
Sydney Brain Tumor Walk
Collective goal: $3,000
More info: https://braintumourwalk.ca/locations/
Nicole Sullivan is a diversity, immigration and education reporter, who sometimes covers health, at the Cape Breton Post. Find her on Twitter @CBPostNSullivan.