It was 7:50 a.m. on a Friday in April 2013, and Amy Toconita Hodge was standing in her kitchen as her vision changed. It felt like she had been staring at a bright light, and suddenly the center of her vision field disappeared. When it returned moments later, things looked fuzzy and wavy and she couldn’t see anything from nose-level down.
Something was not right, but the busy wife, mom and fitness instructor certainly was not prepared to receive a brain-tumor diagnosis by the end of the weekend.
Among Amy’s first actions was starting a CaringBridge site, first to keep everyone updated as her treatment plan emerged, and later to process the impacts–on everything–of two craniotomies in three months.
Amy wrote constantly. She felt grateful for her tumor-type to be a low-grade ganglioglioma, and for excellent medical care and the love and support of family and friends.
But she also expressed the worries of every person whose life has been disrupted by a brain tumor. Soon after her second surgery, Amy wrote, “My work and home life have changed a lot. Priorities have shifted. My income has disappeared. My calendar is clear. My survival instincts have taken over.”
Her health stabilized, though, and after a year of clean scans, Amy turned her CaringBridge Journal into the book “HeadStrong.” In November 2014, she wrote, “Cancer survivors sometimes joke about having ‘Can’t Miss Anything Syndrome.’ We stay up late, we get up early, we pass through our days realizing we may never pass this way again. And actually, that is true. We live full strength.”
As of December 2020, Amy’s MRIs were still clean, her husband and kids were good, and she was back to work at the gym. And she was thinking about writing another book.