Tumour Survivor Gets Back to Being an Active Mom


Rashmi and family © Julie Riemersma | Rashimi received treatment for a spinal cord tumour with the help of West Park Foundation

Rashmi Sanjay admits that it took her a while to “wrap her head around” what was happening to her. Five years ago, the mother of two was diagnosed with a rare tumour on her spinal cord that threatened to paralyze her from the neck down.

Only 40 years old at the time, she faced a terrible decision. She could have surgery to remove the tumour, with only a 25 per cent chance of success and a strong risk of immediate paralysis. Or she could let the slow-growing tumour take its course, knowing she would eventually become a quadriplegic.

Ultimately, she decided to risk the surgery. “I had so much going through my head,” she said. “I bought Christmas and birthday gifts for my kids for the next five years because I didn’t know how I would be.”

One week after the six-hour surgery, she arrived at West Park Healthcare Centre in Toronto. “I came in on a stretcher—I couldn’t walk, I had pain in my neck, and I needed help using the washroom, getting dressed and even feeding myself,” she recalled.

But Rashmi had a goal—to get back to her husband, Sanjay, and her children, Rhea and Eshan, who were nine and seven at the time. Fortunately, West Park’s dedicated team of therapists, nurses and doctors were there to help.

One of the nurses came in to move her arms and legs in the morning so she wouldn’t lose muscle function. When she could hold her head up, the team began taking her out for a walk in a wheelchair. Progress was slow, but eventually, she progressed to using a walker.

“The therapists were phenomenal,” she said. “They didn’t tell me what to do—they listened to how I was feeling and worked around that. But they knew when to tell me to slow down and when to keep pushing.”

She was buoyed up by the support she received from the entire West Park community. “Everyone was so positive and encouraging,” she said. “It really gives you a boost to know that everyone is standing with you.”

Less than four weeks into her stay, Rashmi returned home. “Walking into my own house and seeing the children and their ‘welcome home’ cards was very emotional. I couldn’t have been happier,” she explained.

West Park is building a new hospital so more patients like Rashmi can receive the life-changing care they need to get their lives back. A nationally recognized leader in rehabilitation and complex care, we help people recover from serious injury and illness, and regain their independence.

Our new hospital will better integrate services while enhancing patient care and comfort, and we will make full use of our expansive grounds to provide outdoor, multi-use therapy spaces to help our patients navigate real-world conditions.

When our new complex is fully complete, it will transform rehabilitation and complex care to meet the needs of Ontarians for decades to come.

Donate today at WestParkFoundation.ca to support our bold transformation and help us set a new standard in patient care for people like Rashmi.

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About West Park Foundation

We have been helping people rebuild their lives for more than 100 years. Working in partnership with our patients, we help them recover and return home following serious illness and injury. When you give to West Park, you are ensuring we can continue to offer exceptional care to the growing number of people who need it.


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