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Finding My Way In The Midst Of Adversity: A Memoir (standard:Creative non-fiction, 21410 words)
Author: Jen Galvin Added: Mar 28 2008Views/Reads: 2276/2201Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
This is my personal memoir of overcoming a Traumatic Brain Injury as well as cancer. It is based on the past twelve years of my rehabilitation and the lessons gained along the way.

Finding My Way In The Midst Of Adversity A Memoir 


"Telling our story, and sharing the meaning we find in our life,
also helps to connect more to the human community. By sharing our 
story, we find that we have a lot more in common with others than 
we might have thought. This sharing of stories creates a bond between 
people who may not even have known each other before. After sharing, or 
listening to, a life story, a connection is established that remains 
even if we don't see the other person again. ... We discover in the 
process of telling our life stories that we are more sacred beings than 
we are human beings. A life story is really a story of the soul of a 
person." – Robert Atkinson in The Gift of Stories: Practical and 
Spiritual Applications of Autobiography, Life Stories, and Personal 

I am the survivor of both a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and cancer.
Having lived with a brain injury for twelve years and being privileged 
to call myself a cancer survivor for eleven years, I have told my story 
multiple times. Yet, I have discovered in the past years that my story 
changes and evolves as my life journey continues. The experience I had 
twelve years ago, five years ago, and even a year ago, each have a 
different perspective. My life has been perceived differently by myself 
at each phase of the past twelve years. Further, each person in my life 
at the time of this transitional experience has a different story to 
tell with their own perception of the journey. This is my story, 
through my own eyes: my perceptions, my memories, my feelings, and the 
lessons I have gained along the way. “There are events by which we mark 
our lives, usually unexpected and often tragic occurrences beyond our 
control that become a kind of watershed, all other events becoming 
known as that which came before or after it. One minute everything is 
as it has been, an in the next, everything is changed forever. That 
moment can abruptly end any temptation or tendency to buy into 
comforting platitudes that promise unlimited control over our lives or 
pretend that we can know with certainty that everything happens, is 
caused or orchestrated by a higher power, for a worthy reason. It 
ripped from my hands and my heart my unacknowledged and only 
semiconscious belief in the power of my own will to protect myself and 
those I loved from any real harm with hard work and diligent practice. 
It brought the reality of impermanence, the reality of our own 
mortality and the consistency and unpredictability of change in our 
lives up against my face.” ~ The Invitation By Oriah, pages 143 and 144 

My Awakening 

In order to gain a better understanding of how this story first began, I
must start from the beginning. Some may have considered it “the end” of 
my life, yet I look at it as the beginning. In my opinion, it was the 
day I truly began living. In December of 1995, I was an average eighth 
grade teenager at New Ulm Junior High School, actively involved in 
various school events, such as choir, softball, and student council. I 
was an ‘A' student, in the advanced math class, the type of student who 
didn't have to study to earn an ‘A'. I had a very close group of girl 
friends, made up of twelve of us who ate lunch together every day and 
spent time in each other's company every weekend. My dad is a 
rehabilitation counselor who, after a few years of working for a 
company, decided to start his own rehabilitation firm in New Ulm. My 
mom works for a company that provides services to developmentally 
disabled adults. She started there many years ago when I was young, 
providing direct support and now works in human resources for the 
company. I have two younger brothers, Ryan and Patrick. Ryan is two 
years younger than me, making him eleven in 1995, and Patrick was 
eight. December 13, 1995, started out as a very typical school day. It 
was a Wednesday. I had choir practice that morning, as we were busily 
preparing for the Christmas concert coming up later that week. I 
mentioned to my parents that I had a slight headache, but due to the 
excitement of the concert and my loyalty to school, I refused to be 
absent. The headache became increasingly painful, enough to cause me to 
finally go to the nurse's office, which I rarely ever did since I hated 
missing school. The nurse took my temperature and it appeared to be 
slightly high. She called my mom, who was in a meeting at the time, 
letting her know that when she had time, I could be picked up. The 
nurse explained I had a headache and the flu was going around, but it 

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