INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – When an Avon woman was told she had a giant tumor on her brain, she said she thought it was a death sentence.
17 years later, she’s still alive and using her experience with tumors and cancer to help others.
Kim Nguyen works the front desk at IU Health Neuroscience Center. It’s the same place where the surgeons who saved her life work. She says every day is a reminder of how precious life is and what an honor it is to be able to work there.
A front desk job may not be a dream occupation for many people, but for Nguyen, this is what she feels she was called to do.
“It’s an honor to work here for IU Health!” Nguyen exclaimed.
Especially since many people walking through the door may be coming in scared and confused, thinking that having a brain tumor or cancer means they don’t have much time. That is when Nguyen is there to offer some reassurance.
“I’ve been there,” Nguyen said. “I know what they’re going through. I know what they’ve got to be thinking. So… I’m going to be their psychiatrist, I’m going to ease their nerves and let them see I’m still here.”
Doctors found Nguyen’s first brain tumor, which was the size of a baseball, 17 years ago after she was hit in the head with a golf ball.
“I can’t!” Nguyen recalled. “That means I’m going to die. And, my kids, I’m not going to see them grow to become adults. I don’t have time for this. This isn’t real.”
Surgery to remove the tumor happened just a couple days later. But treatment didn’t end there. Nguyen was back in her doctor’s office a year and half later with a cancerous tumor, this one the size of a golf ball.
“I said, ‘you know what? Three times is not a charm for brain surgery,’” Nguyen explained. “This is it. He says ‘kiddo, you’ll be just fine.’ And he’s right. I was.”
Nguyen says the reason she’s still here all these years later is because God decided to toss a golf ball at her.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do anything for you, had you not seen me now,” Nguyen remembered her doctor saying. “Because it would have been too late by the time you found out.”
After all she’s been through, Nguyen is enjoying every minute of work and life.
“I have a lot to smile about!” Nguyen said. “I’m a two-time brain cancer survivor.”
And she hopes others are able to walk back through the lobby with the same outlook.
“A lot of people have told me that I have brought them hope,” Nguyen said. “And that alone, just that I’m here to help somebody, that’s precious to me.”
Nguyen says if you feel like you have an issue, go get it checked out. It shouldn’t take a golf ball to the head to get you the help you need.