Active 40-year-old wife and loving mother of two young children 7 and 9, Rashmi Sanjay juggled parenthood with a full-time job in Kitchener along with teaching dance and yoga for kids at the YMCA. But her life as she knew it came to a sudden stop when she was diagnosed with a tumor in her cervical spinal cord.
The type of tumor was rare, with fewer than 70 known cases world-wide over the last 85 years. Not removing it would have meant certain paralysis from the neck down. Surgery didn’t guarantee success either. Being unable to walk, talk, or breathe on her own were distinct possibilities.
She underwent surgery on September 27, 2017 at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. A highly skilled team at St. Michael’s performed the complicated, six-hour surgery, which was successful in removing 90% of the tumor. It was too risky to remove it completely.
After a week at St. Michael's, Rashmi was moved to West Park Oct 3.
Her team of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses and doctors at West Park helped Rashmi regain her strength post surgery.
“I came into West Park on a stretcher and walked out on my feet with a cane. Everyday staying at West Park gave me a whole new meaning and appreciation for life, my body and what it can and cannot do," Rashmi says.
“Rashmi is a very independent woman who wasn’t able to do a lot of things for herself when she came to West Park," says Ludmilla Ferreira, Occupational Therapist, Neurological Rehabilitation Services.
"She couldn’t get dressed by her herself, she couldn’t walk on her own, she couldn’t brush her hair. The focus of the whole team was to work on her personal goals. We listened to her needs and addressed the problems she was having to ensure she could be independent again and be able to achieve her goals."
Rashmi is now back home in Waterloo and continuing her rehabilitation in Kitchener.
“With support and encouragement from my family, friends and my multidisciplinary rehab team, I will reach my goal and one day teach dance and yoga again.”
Listen to Rashmi's interview with the CBC here.