TEAM RHONDA

Hello, my name is Rhonda Imbery and I am a single mother of three beautiful children! AJ is my oldest boy and he is 16 years old and Marissa is my beautiful 13 year old daughter and Christian is my youngest child and he is 12 years old.  I do not even know where to begin this story or shall I say journey, I think with my life events I could write a book on all I have been through in my life.  I will start with my life when I was 33 years old and at work one night in the ICU at the VA hospital here in Sioux Falls SD as an RN, and had just received an admit and had been having a horrible headache that had just starting hurting about an hour after I got onto duty at 1930 and was admitting my patient and texting my boyfriend on how I just felt really bad and my head hurt so bad and that went on for a while, I kept admitting my patient but, things quickly got worse, I was having a hard time texting, and doing the doctor orders for my patient and knowing what I had done or hadn't done, what I charted or didn't chart, then It just hit me so hard, I called out to another floor for a nurse and she came in and her and the other ICU nurses got me into a bed and I began throwing up and not remembering much and they wheeled me down to our ER and had my boyfriend pick me up and take me to another hospital which is what we did and they told him it was a migraine take me home and let me sleep, which is what we did, I can remember through the next three days getting up and going to the bathroom and I would run into the same wall everytime and vomit and go back to the bed.  I missed my youngest sons birthday that night, at the time me and my ex-husband were sharing custody and this was suppose to be my weekend with them, but I could not get out of bed, all of them tried to get me to get up and I do not remember any of that, well saturday rolls around and I am getting worse is what my boyfriend told me and he cleaned me up and I went back to the hospital and was admitted after a CT of the head was done for a brain bleed, I went to the ICU and I remember some things and some of the many visitors but it is all so fuzzy to me except the stories I heard after all of this occuried. Sunday passed by and that was my oldest sons birthday and I missed that aslo, but we in time made up for both of their birthdays.  As I still was detoriating I received a central line and during the doctors putting it in I got a pneumothorax and then needed a chest tube, which I remember none of this, well on the x-ray for placement the doctors saw a tumor in my right lower lobe of my lung and that is when they no longer thought I had a brain bleed but, that is was a brain tumor that was bleeding, I continued to be monitored in the ICU until my sodium was to critical they decided to do brain surgery, I got tons of stories from my family when I was awake and able to know what was going on, but, the neurosurgeon I guess was quizzed by me with questions if he is smart enough to be in my brain and where he did his residency, I even on one of the ICU days asked him if I could help the ICU nurses because they were busy and that was my job and I knew I could help them.  But, ya that was a no go.  So anyways, brain surgery it was.  My dad and step-mom were running aroung getting guardian ship of me and everything in place since I was a single mom and they were told more than likely I would not make it through surgery, well I did, and I recovered and the night before I was discharged from my brain surgery the FDA announced a new Melanoma drug called zelboraf, well what perfect timing for that because that is what I was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic melanoma to brain and lungs.  Well, after my incision healed on my head I had 10 days of full brain radiation.  After a couple weeks and my hair starting to fall out more and more, I decided that night when my parents got back into town we were going to there hotel room and my kids were going to shave my head.  It was devastating for me everyday I showered feeling globs of hair falling out and sitting in my hands.  But, I knew it was time to be shaved and move forward to fighting the biggest battle of my life.  My kids and family shaved my head, for my youngest it took some time for him to shave some but, he did it towards the end.  My next, step after brain radiation and my hair being shaved I had a court date at the end of August 2011 which was all in the same month of all of this starting and now having to deal with an ex-husband and his drinking problem. Court gave me custody of my children with him having supervised visitation.  Well, he thought he was to good to have to pay at a visitation center to see his kids, and now it has been over three years now since I got diagnosed and he has nothing to do with these three amazing kids I have and take care of and support.  Well, through this past three years I have had many surgeries and many bad days with headaches or radiation another two times each 30 days long, one of them on my neck was the worst for me where I could not swallow, so I went four months with being only to drink boost.  I lost alot of weight like I did being in the ICU at the beginning of all of this.  I made it through it and everything else I was given to face.  I believed and still believe to be positive and not let this fight beat me.  My dad has taught me to fight and to be strong and I have always had that mind frame growing up after losing my mom at the age of eight.  I remember in the hospital when I was very out of it with this when it all began and my dad telling me he will take my headache and I remember taking my hand and rubbing it over my forehead and placing it in his hand.  It never did leave me.  My appointments at Mayo that September and my brain tumor was out and court was done I went out there for a second opinion on my lung tumors, and within a couple days I was having a thoractomy to remove my right lower lobe and two wedges out of my middle lobe.  I had a chest tube once again and they hurt.  Everything I had done at work in the ICU as an RN was now being done to me.  All was well though, I knew what I had to do and what I always told my patients after surgery so I sucked it up and walked and did what I needed to do to be able to go home.  I hope I am not skipping around to much, there has just been so much that has happened to me since August of 2011 and thi is only now September 2011, but to move more current in time.  I hit my three year mark this August of 2014 and the zelboraf chemo worked for me so many more months than they ever expected.  Usual is 7-9 months and I was over 30 months on this oral chemo I took twice a day.  Fantastic results from this chemotherapy.  Yes there were some ups and downs on it but in the end it did its job.  So, a couple weeks after I hit my three year mark and my kids were starting school, I had been feeling SOB (short of breath) and coughing when I would lay down, and monitored it for a couple weeks, but I could tell it was getting worse.  So, one night before I left to work, yes I am still working to support my children since my ex-husband feels like he doesnt need to work to send me child support. Anyways, I love being a nurse. My oncologist would not let me continue working in the ICU and I had a year off with both of those major surgeries and getting my weight back and getting recovered and I went back to work and still am currently at the same job.  It gets me to use my nursing skills more than I would be not working and hope one day I can go back to work in the ICU again.  So back to the point I went in for an x-ray and the next night before I was leaving to work, I got a call that the radiologist saw two nodules on my right lung.  That morning when I got off of work I called my oncologist and he moved my scans up from the end of August to that week.  When I got my results I was kinda of in shock since for three years I had a lot of good results from my brain MRI and my PET scans, this hit me hard.  But, results showed another tumor in my brain and multiple in my left and right lungs.  So, I thought here we go again for another fight.  I was not and am not to this day giving up on this battle and I will be around to tell this story in years to come.  I went to mayo and had gamma knife done for the brain tumor in September of 2014 and started and IV chemo meaning now I had to get a portacath, which I had refused up to this point and just put up with all the pokes, and if the nurses couldn't start my IV, I would start them myself.  So this was another devastating point for me to have to get the port put in.  But, it is what it is, and today Oct 30th 2014, was my last IV chemo, so my next step is Mayo clinic in Rochester on Novemeber 13, 2014.  Hoping and Praying for good results when I meet with them at the end of the day.  I, have never stopped fighting this battle not only for myself and family, but for my children mostly.  They are amazing kids to have had to go through all of these struggles in life at a young age and grow up fast to help mom when she is not feeling well or drive me to the hospital late at night.  They make me strong and they are super special to me in so many ways.  My daughter, is such a helper through all of this with medical things, she knows what I need and she can start an IV if she needed to.  I have taught her so much as we have gone through this and for my boys, they can always say the right things at the right times to me and know when hugs are needed as does Marissa.  Just, do not understand how a person that should be in their lives could walk away and move to another state for a problem he has and refuses to fix.  We as a family are always here for each other and my kids and their grades and the respect they have could never be better!  We do great on our own and we all work together.  I know I missed tons of things that has happened in the past three years but, this is a lot of it.  We got blessed with so many kind people that have helped us from the very beginning of my diagnosis and to this day we are still receiving so many acts of kindness from people.  GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU!!  My family and sisters and friends and all the medical staff and nurses have been amazing to me and the kids through this and we just know we are not alone through this journey that God has given me to fight and beat!!  Thank you for reading my story and taking the time to Pray for TEAM RHONDA.  Love, always Rhonda,  AJ, Marissa, and Christian
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Organizer

Rhonda Imbery 
Organizer
Sioux Falls, SD
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