• Cancer

    In the Loop: ‘I Have Never Once Been Afraid of My Diagnosis’

brain cancer patient Kelly Leibold in her hospital bed

At just 21 years old, Kelly Leibold heads up the Pine Island Chamber of Commerce, promoting businesses and events in her hometown. But Kelly's job is hardly the most impressive achievement of her young life. That, we think it's fair to say, would instead be the incredible way she has handled a diagnosis of medulloblastoma.

Kelly's diagnosis came after months of dizziness and nausea last fall. Doctors initially suspected benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and recommended physical therapy. But the prescribed exercises didn't help, and by the end of November, Kelly's symptoms were so severe that she was vomiting almost every day. She'd also begun experiencing uncontrollable trembling in her right hand.

Kelly's mother and grandmother took her to the emergency department and pushed for answers. "I had a CT scan and it was a long time before anyone came to talk to me about it," Kelly tells us. "Finally, they came and said, 'We saw something on your CT and we're sending you to Mayo Clinic.'"

At Mayo, Kelly had an MRI exam, and by that evening, an initial diagnosis. "They told me I had a brain tumor, but they weren't sure if it was cancerous or benign," she says. Within a week, she would have surgery — and an answer. Biopsy results showed the tumor was cancerous, and Kelly would need proton beam radiation therapy and chemotherapy to treat it. Read the rest of Kelly's story.
This story originally appeared on the In the Loop blog.