Grant Recipient Back Home After Successful Brain Surgery

As our final spotlight for 2023, we want to share our joy as we had the chance to reconnect with one of our Exceptional Needs Grant recipients who is starting a new chapter in life after overcoming a life altering diagnosis. In September, we shared the story of Amy, who found out through the seemingly innocent accident of bumping into a glass door that was “too clean” that she had an advanced brain tumour that was endangering her life. Suddenly for Amy, her two children and husband the life they had built, and their future was in limbo.

We met Amy as she was trying to navigate a path forward. Doing nothing was not a possibility, and moving quickly was imperative to a positive outcome. However, the procedure to remove the tumour cost more than a typical household makes in a year. Amy’s savings and contributions from friends covered nearly half the cost, and through an Exceptional Needs Grant, the Barzilai Foundation covered the rest allowing Amy to secure the life-saving medical care she needed as timely as possible and protect her family’s future.

Amy is now two months removed from surgery and back home with her family to celebrate not just another holiday season, but a new chapter in life. We had the opportunity to catch up with her and asked her to reflect on this past year and her future.

When reflecting on the early parts of this journey, two days stood out to Amy. First, the day she learned she had a tumour. “The day I found out, I was flying to the UK with my eldest son to surprise my sister for her birthday,” she shared. “I held that information for three weeks before I told anyone. I wanted to know what type of tumour it was before sharing my news to limit distress. Why tell anyone anything until I knew what it was? It would have just been a sort of conceptual panic otherwise.”

The other notable day was when Amy learned of the cost of the operation. “It was a kind of internal free fall, a mixture of a deep seismic panic and shock,” Amy recalled. “There were phone calls. Mum said she could remortgage the house, my father-in-law said he would look at how to release funds, and my precious friends and neighbours quickly came forward with offers of financial support.” Even Amy’s 98-year-old grandmother pledged financial support.

The show of support and solidarity from Amy’s community of friends and family helped her to feel safe during unsure times. That connection to Amy’s support system stood out after the procedure as well. “This energy that has surrounded me has kept me safe and kept me positive,” she said. Amy felt fueled by the support she received from a wide range of people: a distant friend of her mother praying for her, for example, or a neighbour delivering food during her recovery to help her husband. “I guess this is that wheel of life,” she reflected. “We all need to share goodness with each other and let each other know how much we mean to each other.”

We are proud to say this wheel of life included the Barzilai Foundation. “You appeared in my life with a level of magical supportive action that only happens in dreams,” Amy shared. “You provided our family with supreme solutions and the best surgeons to perform the operation. We were spared so much anxiety. Instead, this gave us a headspace conducive to calm positivity which was so beneficial throughout the months prior to the operation.” 

Now, after a scary and unpredictable past few months, Amy is home with her family for the holidays. “To feel that we can all collectively stop as a family and share the Christmas holidays with this behind us is a blessing,” she said. She looks forward to building up her strength while her boys and husband rest and relax. “My husband has carried the can so well, juggling work, school exams, cooking, travelling, and the anxieties of the surgery,” she reflected. “He needs a break, too, so Christmas really represents a space of recharge for us all this year.”

As for what the future holds, Amy has a new perspective: “The future is always the unknown and I have really come to understand that this year. Personally, I want to feel strong in my body again and find my purpose. People are my love and being able to help someone in some form is my goal.”

At the Barzilai Foundation, we are thankful for many things this year. We are thankful to Amy’s medical team and community of family and friends that helped her through these past several months. We are thankful to Amy for sharing her story. And we are deeply thankful to have been able to support her and all our recipients this past year, and for the privilege of truly serving the communities in which we work.