Survivor Stories: From Brain Tumor Survivor to a Source of Inspiration

In the quiet, reflective moments of life, we often find ourselves pondering the twists and turns that have shaped our journey. Catlin’s story is a testament to resilience, transformation, and the unwavering human spirit. 

Looking back, Catlin had a life brimming with promise. She had just embarked on a new job, sharing her knowledge with students at Camosun. Alongside this, she was activity involved in the world of house flipping, a venture she adored for its hands-on nature. 

But amidst this seemingly idyllic life, a series of recurring headaches began to cast a shadow. They grew more intense with each passing day, and it was a fateful day in December 2010 that would change Catlin’s life forever. 

December 21st, 2010, started like any other day, but it would end with a dramatic twist. Catlin returned home from work with a debilitating headache. As she lay on the bed, something strange happened—the half of the TV screen went blank. Suddenly, excruciating pain consumed her, and her world was thrown into chaos. A frantic call to the ambulance brought paramedics to their doorstep.  

At the hospital, Catlin’s journey took a surreal turn. The first CT scan suggested a brain aneurism, but the second scan unveiled a different truth. The technician’s words were unforgettable: “OMG, we need to send this to VGH right away.” A brain tumor had been identified. 

At just 28 years old, Catlin underwent an 8-hour surgery that removed 75% of the tumor she affectionately named “Tu-mie.” The road to recovery was far from smooth, with eight more surgeries and a hospital stay from January 2nd to May 28th. She couldn’t balance, couldn’t stand without falling over, and had to rebuild her physical strength and tolerance for stimulation from scratch. 

Returning home from the hospital, Catlin’s life was transformed. She lived with her mom, relying on a support system to regain her independence. Medications, memory loss, and the need for constant supervision defined her early days post-surgery. The world outside was unfamiliar, even leading to curious early morning escapades. 

She wore a bracelet for identification, not just as a safety measure but as a symbol of her journey—a constant reminder of how far she’d come. 

Amidst the turmoil, the Victoria Brain Injury Society (VBIS) emerged as a crucial source of support for Catlin. VBIS understood her journey like no one else did. It provided a sense of belonging, a community where words were unnecessary because everyone just “got it.” 

A specific initiative within VBIS, known as the Victoria General Hospital Neuro Rehab Peer Support program, has become an empowering cornerstone of her recovery journey. Engaging in conversations with fellow survivors of brain injuries at this hospital wing has been the transformative element that reshaped her life.

Through her involvement with VBIS, she’s become a beacon of hope for others. Her message is clear: “This experience makes me feel like I can do anything. This is the ultimate pay it forward. I am spreading the word about brain injury, giving back, and helping people. 

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Victoria Brain Injury Society

Units C, D & E 830 Pembroke Street
Victoria, B.C. V8T 1H9

Phone: 250-598-9339


The Victoria Brain Injury Society (VBIS) is situated on the traditional territories of the Lək̓ʷəŋən (Lekwungen) Peoples. We recognize and express gratitude to the Peoples and Nations in our community, and those throughout the regions we service.