It was a moment that changed her life forever, but Monique Napier doesn’t even remember it.
Napier, six months pregnant with her second child at the time, went into grand mal seizure in the middle of the night on Sept. 12, 2013.
Her husband called an ambulance and she was rushed to Squamish General Hospital.
On the way to the hospital, the paramedics said what Napier would soon come to think as well, that the seizure must be related to the pregnancy.
At the hospital, an astute doctor saw things differently and sent her to Lions Gate Hospital for further tests.
Those tests would show that Napier, 35, had a rapidly growing brain tumour.
“It kind of felt like my life and my baby’s life was threatened. All in that one night,” Napier said. “It was a complete shock.”
Many of the treatments that would be normally offered a patient could not be offered to Napier because of her pregnancy.
Her life became about keeping her baby healthy and making it to full term.
“It wasn’t about me, when it happened. It was about keeping my baby safe and giving birth to her,” said Napier, her voice breaking with emotion. “That was my only goal.”
Once she had delivered her full term, healthy baby girl on Nov. 29, 2013, Napier could turn her attention to her own health. She had an operation that removed 95 per cent of the tumour two months after the baby was born.
Coming home from the hospital to her two-year-old son Kyle and baby Sylvie was a challenge.
Kyle, she said, understood to the extent he could.
“He went through stages of being very compassionate, bringing me my healing rock and touching my head and asking me if I was better,” she said. “But then he went through a phase of being very angry because I couldn’t do the things that I used to with him.”
She credits her husband Scott, her parents and parents-in-law with keeping her and her family sane during that time. They all stepped in to take care of Napier and her children.
“I had a two-month-old newborn when I was recovering from brain surgery. And so even the noise of a ticking clock, I couldn’t [handle]. I had to take my clocks down and close all my curtains in my house for months because I couldn’t handle the light, the noise, and here I am trying to breastfeed,” she said.
“That was really hard, so without people’s support it wouldn’t have been possible.”
Today Napier has a stage two cancerous but slow-growing brain tumour.
She has been focused on integrated medicine and finding out what triggers in her body cause inflammation and dealing with those. Napier is monitored every six months to see if the tumour has grown or shrunk.
She is back doing photography work, which she loves, and is focusing on staying healthy.
“It is all about my kids, and needing to see them grow up,” she said.
Napier is a goal-oriented person, so she turned her sights on doing the August two-day Ride to Conquer Cancer to help the BC Cancer Foundation.
“My motivator for that too is… how vulnerable life really is. I always lived life to the fullest, but now it’s reminded me how important it is to seize the moment and to do the things that you enjoy and not dwell on the negative,” she said, adding she is looking forward to seeing the sea of yellow flags that represent the survivors on the ride. “That pushes me forward.”
There will be a high tea fundraiser for Napier’s ride at the West Coast Railway Heritage Park’s new Tea Room on Saturday, April 11. To make a reservation for the 12, 2 or 4 p.m. high tea sittings call 604-898-9336.
For more info on the ride, go to www.conquercancer.ca.