One cancer was discovered when Pontes, a singer, noted hoarseness in her voice. Another was revealed following a routine mammogram, which had worried doctors calling Pontes back in for more tests.
"I told them, "˜Now I know how Cindy Crawford feels,'" Pontes said. "Everyone always wants to take her picture.
Pontes's upbeat attitude was tested following the removal of a large number of lymph nodes from her right side and ensuing severe bouts of cellulitis, which nearly forced the amputation of her right arm. Skin burns from the radiation kept her out of work longer than planned.
Not only that, but a brain tumor re-diagnosed as a cyst during surgery exploded, causing spinal fluid leaks and meningitis that nearly killed Pontes "” and a stroke in August 2011 left her in a wheelchair, without the use of her left hand.
She woke at New England Rehabilitation Hospital from a dream of speaking at a podium at Harvard and had her nurse write down the words "lessons learned," Pontes said.
The next day, she came up with a draft presentation and outline for a book of tips and tricks to deal with apparently unbearable challenges. She typed it with one finger.
"The book revolves around perseverance against adversities, which we can overcome in time with help from ourselves and others," Pontes said.
In December, 2012 after her 50th birthday party, she had a flu shot and landed in the ICU with double pneumonia for several weeks intubated on life support with tubes in her throat and an induced coma.
I had to give away my dog and now need a service dog and chair lift in order to finally and safely get out of my house and become an independent member of society! Service dog organizations require you to fundraise 15K to 20K per dog and the chair lift is $3,000K per chairlift. God bless you whether you can give or not.
"I've learned to stop being an extreme Type A personality where I thought I could do it all, and came to realize that others want and can help," Pontes said. "I always did for others so it has been a tremendous learning experience to let others in to help me."
"It's a marathon and not a sprint," Pontes said. "With countless hours of help from my family and dear friends: I'll get there!
- Karen Greenwood
- Christine Vieira-Trant
- Kerry Rae
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