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Kabel Sheehan pushes herself ‘one step further’ in rehabilitation

During her stay, the former Art Institute of Chicago student shared her artistic gifts by contributing birds and a bird house to a mural created by patients in the Human Resources office at Mary Free Bed.

Guest blog: Kabel Sheehan, 29, is married to Ryan and mother of three children: Kyla, 5, Evan, 3, and Koda, 1. Kabel’s days were spent playing with her kids, coaching and playing volleyball as well as running her own graphic design company. The Grand Haven family’s world was turned upside down on March 25, when Kabel suffered a seizure that led to the discovery of a cancerous brain tumor.

In this guest blog, Kabel shares her rehabilitation journey, which included inpatient therapy at Mary Free Bed. During her stay, the former Art Institute of Chicago student shared her artistic gifts by contributing birds and a bird house to a mural created by patients in the Human Resources office at Mary Free Bed.

I wasn’t feeling very well. Ryan got up for work; I could hear him get in the shower. The next thing I remember is the feeling of suffocating. I laid there, trying to hit the headboard or scream or make whatever noise I could to get his attention, praying he would hear me over the sound of the shower. I was not sure what was happening, but I was pretty sure I was going to suffocate to death.

The next thing I remember is waking up to see Ryan’s former assistant fire chief and a room full of people. Ryan told me I had a seizure.

Upon arriving at the hospital, the testing began – MRIs, spinal taps, blood tests, EKGs – about anything you can think of. The first MRI revealed what appeared to be a tumor or possible brain infection. But with further testing, infection was ruled out and a biopsy became necessary. A couple of MRIs later, and in I went for a stereotactic biopsy. The tumor was sent for testing, and we were left waiting. The days that followed were filled with optimism and hope. Cancer never crossed my mind.

Two weeks later, on April 12, I got the worst news of my life. After arriving at the neurology office, I was still optimistic but as I sat down in the tiny room to discuss the results, I started to realize that something more was going on. The doctor’s demeanor had changed, and the atmosphere in the room had gotten heavy. He told me I had a stage 4 glioblastoma, and my world literally stopped. The prognosis was not good. I broke down. All I could think of was my kids, so I attempted to shake it off and talk about options with the doctor.

We made the decision to remove the tumor as soon as possible, and the next day I was in surgery. Everything seemed to be moving at laser speed, and there was no way to keep up. The surgery was successful – doctors were able to remove 97 percent of the tumor and flare signal. However, we had no idea that would be just the beginning.

The tumor was very close to motor functions, so after surgery, I had a left-side lag. I went to Mary Free Bed on April 19 for two weeks of rehabilitation. I can’t express my gratitude enough to the staff and therapists and how amazing they were. I never thought I would be moving my arm by the time I left or walking as well as I was. I have always been a hard worker and extremely competitive person, so I always took the challenges the therapists gave me and pushed it one step further. They were constantly challenging me with new tasks and pushing me. I was blessed with a gifted, talented team at Mary Free Bed. They were such an encouragement to me and did a fantastic job getting me back on my feet. I seriously can’t thank them all enough.

We still have so many decisions to make and things to work out, between radiation, outpatient therapy and chemotherapy, and trips to Duke University. It’s going to be a marathon that we are taking one day at a time. Between surgery and rehab, it had been three weeks since I was home. I’m just so thankful for the time I get to spend with my husband and kids, and living every day one at a time. I’m looking forward to outpatient rehabilitation at Mary Free Bed and regaining full function of my left arm and getting back to my life – family, work, coaching volleyball – and maybe adding some new, exciting challenges as well.

We can’t express enough our love and gratitude to everyone who has come around us so far – the response is truly overwhelming. We don’t know what the future holds for us, and we know it’s going to be a long road, but we are trusting that God has this and I’m too stubborn and driven to let this take me down.


Aunt Karen

We are blessed to live in a community that cares. Kabel your Faith, love and devotion is an example for all of us. You have accomplished amazing things since this journey began. I’m praying Gods continual blessings and healing for you.
To God be the glory.
Fully rely on God (frog)

Erik VanHall

Thank you Mary Free Bed for taking such good care of and giving such wonderful help and support to a dear friend of ours, Kabel.


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