I was no longer feeling stuck in my old life where I felt directionless. God gave me an amazing opportunity to change my life if I would choose to put in the effort.
Name: Kali Owens
Location: Tempe, Arizona
Teresa: Where are you originally from?
Kali: I was born in Tucson and grew up in Scottsdale AZ. I lived in Scottsdale until 2011 and I then moved to Billings Montana. Then after my diagnosis I moved back to Scottsdale about 9 months ago.
Teresa: Where do you live now?
Kali: I live in Scottsdale with my sister.
Teresa: What do you love about where you are now?
Kali: I love living with my sister, we also have two dogs that I enjoy spending time with, as well as living in Arizona the sun in very therapeutic. I think being back in Arizona has presented many new opportunities to me and being close to my family and friends at this time in my life is very important to me as well.
Teresa: You have an amazing story, can you share it with me?
Kali: Long version, or short version (laughing).
Okay so, I had been living in Billings for about 4 years and I had gotten married in August of 2014. Marriage was amazing , I was at that time working for a chiropractor and felt like I had everything going for me but at the same time was feeling stuck in one place.
Then five months after I had gotten married and feeling as though I was living an ideal life,a I had a grand mall seizure on January 26th 2015 and was diagnosed with three brain tumors.
I later found out was Glioblastoma Brain Cancer Grade 4. I was then scheduled for brain surgery to remove the largest tumor 4 days later.
Teresa: What was surgery like for you?
Kali: Well, I was in shock and didn’t take into consideration the severity of it all.
It was as if I was numb to it all. I was in such shock that I didn’t feel anything. When you go through such traumatic things you just do it fearlessly because you have to. I don’t think I even cried that week. I found myself having to be strong for everyone else.
No one really showed emotion to me but I knew that behind closed doors that everyone was freaking out, so I felt likeI had to show them my strength to encourage everyone that I will be okay.
I didn’t want anyone to see me be weak. I did not want to look weak! i wanted to assure everyone that I am going to come through this and be just fine. I am not going to let anything happen to me because I am stronger than this. I find myself trying to down play my diagnosis to make others feel strength.
Teresa: I can imagine. You have to really be strong for your loved ones.
What was life like post surgery?
Kali: I woke up to a ton of visitors and it was overwhelming, but I really don’t remember much.
They had removed the largest tumor and then I had a cluster of tumors connected that they could not remove because of the depth of them in my brain.
Radiation and Chemo treatments were put in place to begin to shrink them down for an additional 6 weeks post surgery
Teresa: Tell me more about your marriage post cancer?
Kali: Looking back my husband left me two of the nights that I was in the hospital to go out to party with friends. I felt as though he needed time to get away and hang out with friends but now I can see his lack of support.
All the while my dad never left me and slept on the floor in ICU. After surgery I had to stop working. Due to complications in the marriage, I then separated from my husband and moved in with my parents in May of 2015.
Teresa: What is life like day to day while undergoing chemo treatments?
Kali: Well, I never let things get me down.
I was always active so adjusting to not being able to have the strength and energy was something new to me. I found things as simple as cleaning the house or doing dishes or the laundry to be a HUGE task.
I was completely exhausted after doing the simple things. I was also having focal motor seizures in my leg and was on seizure medication. Occasionally, if I over did it, my leg would start to spasm. I would then have to lay down to prevent a full blown seizure.
I also wasn’t allowed to drive because of my right leg seizures.
Teresa: So all of the things that we take everyday for granted were stripped away from you?
Kali: Yes. I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t clean, I couldn’t work, my marriage fell apart, I was an exercise enthusiast and with the medicine no matter how hard I worked out my muscle were being depleted, and I had to move back in with my parents.
Teresa: So had you not been in amazing physical shape prior to your diagnosis would your recovery had been worse?
Kali: Yes absolutely, I feel that because I was strong going into surgery I recovered better and wasn’t so frail.
The recovery was tough and I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like if I wasn’t in such excellent physical shape before my surgery.
Teresa: At what point did you feel like you were starting to begin to live a normal life again?
Kali: Probably when I moved back to Arizona after my surgery. I felt like God stripped me of everything.
My marriage was ending in divorce after less than 1 year. I had been diagnosed with brain cancer, I could no longer drive, I could no longer work, I could barely get out of bed and I had to move back in with my parents.
I looked at this as an opportunity to have a completely clean slate and start over. I had to learn to do all of the things that a child has to in order to move out of their parents house.
Cancer took everything from me. It stripped away my husband, my muscles, my job, my home, my entire life was taken from me. But God gave me a chance to start over and do my life again.
I was no longer feeling stuck in my old life where I felt directionless. God gave me an amazing opportunity to change my life if I would choose to put in the effort. I gained my entire life back in a backwards sort of way.
Teresa: I’ve known you for quite some time. You’ve proven that you live life by a fearless and motivated attitude. Where have you found your strength?
Kali: I think that being placed in a situation like this I had to choose that I would take my life back and being strong for others was very motivating.
I always told myself I am a big girl and I can do this no matter what. I hardly ever broke down. Of course I am scared as to what my future is going to bring but if i focus on that I won’t accomplish what needs to get done today. Being fearless is what keeps me focused on staying positive.
Teresa: I know that you have not asked the Dr’s what the future holds for you or what may come of your life out of all of this . How has that helped you to get through this so far?
Kali: I have never known my prognosis. I am not sure if they told my family but I have not ever known. It helps me to not focus on the negative and I don’t think a time line is something that scares me, we are all on a time line.
I think that we should all live as though we have cancer. We are all on a time line so I am not any different.
Teresa: Talk to me about the tattoo on your arm (featured photo above). What’s the significance of the tattoo?
Kali: I got this tattoo on my arm about 2 months after my surgery. It’s an everyday reminder that I am strong enough and that I can do this. I have this power to overcome anything.
I am battling cancer but most people are battling something. Like my favorite quote “ Don’t judge anyone because everyone is fighting some sort of battle”.
Teresa: If you could give a piece of advice to anyone dealing with similar obstacles, what would you tell them?
Kali: Focus on the positive and the now. Don’t focus on the future. Be open and not afraid to show emotion. Express how you feel to a safe person and don’t hold negativity inside.
Let go of all negativity. Once you can find peace with your current situation, God will open another door and present many new opportunities. And know you are worth it and still very lovable as a person.
Teresa: What is your next step? What are you working on?
Kali: I want my purpose to be known. I want to help others who are going through similar situations. I want them to know they can make it through.
I’d love to help people who are under going chemo treatments to get back into good physical shape and recovery. I want them to feel strong so they don’t feel like they are being defeated by cancer.
Cancer was a blessing in my life, without cancer I would be living my old life that I wasn’t very happy living and now I feel my life has purpose. I have an opportunity to inspire other people and change others perception of a bad day.
Teresa: Yes Kali, your presence and your story does encourage other people to live differently.
Being with someone who has cancer, others get to experience the deepest form of love ever experienced on earth.
I truly believe that if we all lived like we had cancer or someone we loved had cancer we would all differently, love deeper, forgive more, and the world would be a better place. We’d guide our lives by what we feel in our hearts not what logically makes sense. We would live on purpose.
So on another note, what social media sites do you spend most of your time on to spread your message?
Teresa: What web page do you follow lately and what books are you currently reading?
Kali: I am motivated by Nikki Blackketter, and The Young and Brave Instagram accounts.
Teresa: If people want to connect with you what’s the best way for them to do that?
Kali: Facebook is the best way, just search Kali Owens and private message me.
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