Thirteen years ago, Kristin Chaban suffered a grand mal seizure two weeks before her wedding.
After being taken to hospital, doctors discovered Chaban had a pair of brain tumors. Since then Chaban, a 38-year-old single mother of two, has had three craniotomies and two gamma knife procedures to try to keep the cancer in check.
However, at the start of May, it was discovered that the tumours were growing again, and that the cancer had spread to Chaban’s spine. She began an immune therapy program, but three weeks later had a severe reaction to the treatment that sent her to Health Sciences Centre, which is where she remains following a surgery to insert a shunt in to drain fluid from her brain.
"This has been the worst part of it all so far," admitted Chaban, a "born and raised" Transcona resident, from her hospital bed. "I’m almost confined to a bed. I want to get home. My kids want me home."
Her sons Will, 13, and Alex, 10, have been visiting her when they can.
"The kids miss her," explained Chaban’s mother, Karen Freund. "They’re involved in sports, sometimes they can’t come see her. Your time is limited, you know?"
For the past week, Chaban has been undergoing treatment for pain while waiting to hear from doctors what the next steps in her treatment will be.
The waiting, Chaban and Freund said, has become frustrating.
Kristin’s a fighter. She always has been, always will be.
"We don’t know what’s next," Freund said. "That’s what we need to know, and I’m trying to get answers. It’s so frustrating, the way the health care system is these days."
"They like taking their time," Chaban added.
While Chaban and her family are waiting for answers from the health care system, friends of the family have taken it upon themselves to help her out. A GoFundMe campaign was initiated by Jodi Sheppard, who got to know Chaban through the ringette community. At press time, the campaign had raised over nearly half of its $5,000 goal.
"It’s very helpful," Chaban said. "Without them, I don’t have anything. It’s overwhelming."
"We truly appreciate all the support everyone has given us, from the bottom of our hearts," Freund added. "Without them, it’s hard. We need all different things now, for her. Sure, you may have insurance, but it doesn’t cover everything."
Chaban started playing ringette in Transcona over 30 years ago.
"She had no choice," her mother said with a laugh. "But she loved it."
When Chaban stopped playing ringette, she remained involved in the game as a referee. Off the ice, she was also an active softball player.
"It’s frustrating to see someone who’s so active — playing ball twice a week, reffing spring league, who used to play in everything — now she can barely walk," Freund said. "Hopefully, we can still get her back there, as long as we get the answers we need regarding treatments and whatnot."
"Kristin’s a fighter," Freund added. "She always has been, always will be. What do you say, you’re going to beat this?"
"Yes," Chaban answered. "I will."
To contribute to the GoFundMe campaign, visit www.gofundme.com/kristin039s-journey-to-kick-the-big-quotcquot?member=2142780
Supporters have also organized a bud and spud night to raise funds for the cause on Thurs., June 20 from 5 to 9 p.m. at Nashville’s Winnipeg (826 Regent Ave. W). For tickets, or to donate prizes, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Community journalist — The Herald
Sheldon Birnie is the community journalist for The Herald Email him at email@example.com Call him at 204-697-7112