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Posted on: December 22, 2017

One Year Later: Karen Sivanich Talks About Brain Cancer Diagnosis

How's Karen?  It's one of the most common questions we get asked at CTN.

It's been just over a year since Karen Sivanich suffered a seizure while working at her other job.  The seizure led to the discovery that she had brain cancer.  

Karen recently sat down to talk about the diagnosis and how life has changed in the last year.

"I just went to work, I did have some symptoms right before the seizure happened and then I thought I was having a stroke just because my mom had a stroke the week before and I thought it was kind of the same symptoms but I didn't really know and by the time I realized something was going on, by that time I hit the floor."

November 16, 2016... a day that changed life for Karen as she knew it.  Following the seizure, Karen was rushed to Unity Hospital in Fridley and later transferred to Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids where surgery was suggested to remove a mass on her brain.

"The Craniotomy that I survived puts you in a vice on your head and that can still be sore, that may never go away but at least they hit the spot."

Her diagnosis: stage four brain cancer which actually started as ovarian cancer, something she thought she beat 20 years ago.  

"I don't know, I guess I just got struck by lightning, that's kind of how i look at it now."

Following a series of appointments including radiation treatment, Karen was unable to return to her retail job and would lose her health insurance.  She says she will qualify for Medicare in one more year and plans to get back to the doctor at that time.

"I don't really know a lot about the prognosis, I mean I feel good, I can care for myself, I do pretty good rattling around my little house but there's definitely some lingering effects, I got a little ways to go yet i think."

Karen was also unable to return to her part-time job here at CTN, a place she's worked for more than two decades.  A lot of noise and bright lights bother her, something that she actually started noticing in the weeks before the seizure.

"There was some signs, lights were bugging me a lot at TV.  Before we would go on, I would say to you, do you see that as I'm looking in the teleprompter and you would always say no, see what?"

For now, Karen spends a lot of time at her home on Coon Lake.  Her neighbors hired her to work a couple of hours, three days a week at the general store in town.  She says she's just grateful for each day and thanks everyone for their love and support.

"The really optimistic part of me which says heck ya, it's all good.  But I also know now that being a two-time cancer survivor and thinking I was good to go after not having a relapse for over 20 years is that you know anything can happen and it usually does.  I guess you just got to roll with it.  It could always be worse."

Karen says she's gotten so much support over the last year from food deliveries like soup and cookies to people plowing her driveway and cutting her hair.  A GoFundMe account also raised more than $7,000 for her care.  If you'd like to donate, click here.

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