How A Mom Overcame Brain Cancer And Stroke with Tina Hollands

AIH 36 | Brain Cancer

 

Many people who suffered and survived from a dreaded disease tend to turn out more appreciative of life and helpful towards others. Tina Hollands, a physical therapy assistant, shares the journey that drastically changed her life. Suffering a stroke while giving birth to her second daughter, Tina was also diagnosed with brain cancer. As she moved towards recovery, she found how overcoming these events and trying to improve and get better was a process of acceptance and finding peace. She shares how she’s now leading community groups and volunteers in helping and supporting other people who are suffering to move forward.

Listen to the podcast here:

How A Mom Overcame Brain Cancer And Stroke with Tina Hollands

My name is Taylor Smith. I’m one of your hosts and I’ve got your second favorite host on here.

I’m Sean Entin, the stroke hacker.

Am I allowed to use that joke more than once?

You can use it how many times as you want, but you know the mission for us. It’s about giving back and talking about other people’s success stories.

We’re never about who’s doing something better. We all have a gift. In my perspective, life is all about discovering what your gifts are and how you can bring that forth in the world.

Before we open up with Tina Hollands, who’s one of my best friends, let’s talk about how we go to the Farmer’s Market and buy the fresh food and support the local communities. We buy organic strawberries, avocados, the greens, the vegetables and even meat that’s wildly caught or fish or hormone-free because you’re cooking is so good. You’re always giving your tips and your trades. They’re powerful like the easy button on how people heal whether it’s supplements. Let’s talk about the Gift, Taylor, because you’re so good at that.

Do you want to talk about Farmer’s Market, the Gift or where are we going here? I’ll talk about it all. I’ll weave it all together. You throw me six bullet points and I’ll figure it out. Why we go to the Farmer’s Market, and I like to put this simply, you are built out of the things that you put in your body. If you want to be the best possible version of yourself and you want to promote health, well-being and vitality in your life, you want to be eating foods that create that. The best way to do that is to, if you can, go to a local Farmer’s Market and get organic fresh food.

Some of the vendors I love call it a biodynamic organic farm. That sounds like a complicated way of saying they’re trying to get back to the way food was naturally created. The biggest benefit of that, in my experience, is they’re creating rich nutrient-dense soil. I know that sounds boring, but it’s all the nutrition and the food that you’re eating comes from the soil that it’s grown in. If you have nutrient-depleted soil, which is the norm in America and the norm in modern farming, you’re not going to be getting the nutrition you’re supposed to be getting from your food.

What Sean was mentioning a moment ago was what we call the Gift, and that’s a product by a company called Mother Earth labs that we have partnered with. What they do is they create this mineral supplement called humic and fulvic acid. It’s replicating these essential foundational nutrients, minerals and compounds that our body needs. It’s recreating what is supposed to be coming through our food in the soil, but unfortunately in the modern world, our food isn’t as nutrient-dense as it used to be. I always tell people, in a perfect world, this product doesn’t even need to exist, but we don’t live in a perfect world. What we need to do is to create this foundation of health in our life and here are some resources to do it.

It’s one of your easy buttons on the new list that you’re creating for people. He’s putting out easy button of his tips, his trades, his knowledge. All you’ve got to do is go over to the website, AdventuresInHealth.TV, put your email in and you’re going to get a video sent to you of what we’re discovering. He’s experimenting on me first as having a stroke. When he talks about it, it works. Even the Gift that I started taking a little bit every day, I feel better. I feel stronger. I’m purging all the medicines I had. I was in a coma for a while as you all know, and I had every single drug put into my body and I feel better. My speech is better and my eyesight is better. It’s because of what he’s introducing to my gut. He’s helping me heal my gut. If you heal the gut, you can heal the brain.

What’s so great about this, and I know this is an episode based on stroke, based on a dear friend of mine, Tina Hollands, who is one of my heroes and one of my best friends. She and I had been friends for several years now on StrokeHacker on my community with Facebook and everything else. She has bounced back from a stroke after having a severe stroke and being paralyzed on one of her sides. She’s a great wife, a great mom, but her why was to get back to her children and to give back to her husband, Shane, who I adore because he’s a deputy in Riverside and he served in the National Guard. He rallied his whole department at the sheriff’s station to get by in him to help out his wife to get better. She’s a miracle story.

Her story is incredible and I won’t go into it because I don’t want to give it away.

For anybody out there who wants to read on how to come back or think about your issues are tough, Tina has had it worse than anybody I know, and she is by far strong and smart. She’s leading community groups and support groups all over. She’s now going back to school, which is incredible. I’m so proud of her and I thank god she’s in my life. Tina Hollands, welcome to the show.

Tina, how are you doing?

I’m great, thank you.

Seany, how are you doing over there?

I’m good. My friend is on. I have Tina Hollands on, who I’ve known for quite some time. We met through Facebook a year ago or two. She’s a remarkable woman and she’s been my friend, her and her husband, Shane. Tina, let us ask you. What happened to you? Take us back to that time and place as you told us before we started this conversation.

Before we go there, can we just learn a little bit about who Tina is before the injury?

Before I was injured, I was a physical therapy assistant. I spent seventeen years of my career working in physical therapy. I’m a mother of two young children, my daughters and a wife. I ran fifteen marathons and did CrossFit three to four times a week. Following the birth of my second daughter. I started having debilitating headaches and eventually led me to the ER. In the ER, they found a baseball-sized brain tumor, which is called a meningioma. I had to have a resection. They took my skull off and removed the tumor, then they were able to put my skull back on, and during surgery I suffered a stroke on the right side of my brain. It affected the left side of my body.

That’s the same as Seany. The same side of the body. Not the same exact story, of course.

My goal is to do a two-armed hug. I would love to give my husband a two-armed hug. Click To Tweet

We make a whole person. You take us together and now we’re whole and complete. What we’re realizing is Tina and I are now whole and complete no matter what and we’re doing it. It went through the process and after accepting the stages of loss, I feel I’m at peace where I’m at with my rehabilitation. I’m always working harder to try to improve and get better. That’s something you do regardless if you’ve had a stroke or not. In life we always want it to be better. Whether you wanted to run a faster mile or lift heavier weight or roll with someone on the map. Whatever your heart is, you always want to be better. That’s how I look at it now. Even having a stroke, every day is just a little bit better. I’m not in formal therapy, but my goal is to do a two-arm hug. I would love to give my husband a two-arm hug and I feel it’s totally possible even four years later from having a stroke. Finding peace in where I’m at and accepting that this happened to me now, and move forward because dwelling in the past isn’t going to make me a better person tomorrow.

That’s beautiful, Tina. I’ve got goosebumps on my left side.

I absolutely love that goal too. It’s not something crazy like, “I’m going to go climb a mountain.” I just want to give someone a hug.

That is so nice and giving hugs is everything. If you ever met Tina, she’s filled with smiles and so is her husband. I had the pleasure to meet them at a stroke event. She’s an awesome woman you’ll always see her giving the right feedback along the way. Once you had the stroke, what happened to you? What deficits are on your left side?

My arm was completely flaccid, so it had no movement at all. My leg has returned much better. My deficits are more tone-related. I have too much tone in my muscles, so my brain sends signals to certain muscles to contract. I’ve done acupuncture to help. I’ve done Botox.

Tell me what that means. People out there don’t understand what Botox is because everyone’s looking and they put it in your lips, they put it in your cheeks. Why are you doing plastic cosmetics to help you with your stroke?

They find certain muscles that are tight and they insert the medicine Botox to help relax it. The doctor told me all the benefits and how they came about it, and I don’t recall all of that.

I can sit up in here and explain. The muscles are spasming. When they spasm, they’re contracting and it’s almost like you’re working out with weights. It’s breaking down the muscle and it’s repairing itself. Our brain is not sending the right signals, our arms, our triceps, our biceps, our forearms will spasm and there’s no connection between those muscles. What they do is inject the Botox into that muscle and it’s a relaxer. It stops the spasms. When I found out with the Botox, I have not yet done it. You’ve done it. It costs money. It’s expensive and you have to do it a lot. You have to do it every six weeks or every so often.

It’s about every three months. For me, it took about ten days to start getting that effects, and then for me, personally it would last ten to twelve weeks and then you’d be in for it again.

What has been your personal experience trying that out? How have you seen benefit from it?

AIH 36 | Brain Cancer
Brain Cancer: Whatever your heart was, you always want it to be better.

 

It was more so in my hand. It just was in a tight fist all the time. I don’t experience a lot of pain, but my hand being in a tight fist all the time did cause pain. It helped alleviate pain in my leg. It would help get me to stop the muscles contracting, what we call plantar, where your foot points down, and I would be able to actively get my foot to raise. I would stretch and then try to get my active movement back into my foot so I wouldn’t have to wear AFO, which I’m weaning out of it now.

Let’s talk about that. AFO is a device which you put on your leg or your foot that helps the foot to stay or it allows the movement to happen. It helps with foot drop because we can’t feel our left side. Tina and I are paralyzed by medical standards. We’re paraplegics, which means we don’t have full movement of our left side. When she puts her heel to toe, the foot may twist and turn. It’s like a brace which would cause a sprain or cause it to break. It’s like you play a sport, you wear a brace. You watch football players and they wear braces and stuff. We’re given AFOs, in the beginning, to find the balance and stability so we can then take those steps. I had it in the beginning and she’s now weaning off. How long has it been, Tina, since you’ve been with the AFO?

It’s been four years since I’ve been with the AFO. Originally, I couldn’t walk without it. I was walking on the side of my foot and I couldn’t walk at all without it.

I totally get it. Just working with Sean, what I’ve seen so for anyone out there who hasn’t known someone with a stroke or seen someone, what I’ve seen is it causes this stiffness in the ankle where usually there’s fluidity and mobility. It usually causes that stiffness to almost rotate to where you’re forced onto that, for Sean, at least to the outside edge of the foot, that can cause imbalance because you don’t have the full function of your foot.

I know it’s hard, Tina, but I’ll give you some advice here. What you want to do is get it off you immediately and start to walk around barefoot outside on the grass.

That’s been a huge benefit is I can go walk to the mailbox and not have to put my shoes and I go walk out barefoot. There’s something I’m proud about that moment. I remember a time when I would have to put the AFO on to go get the newspaper or go get whatever I needed. Now I can go to the mailbox barefooted and it feels amazing. Those little triumphs that I have, I’m like, “There you go.” That’s my “that a girl.” Even all these years later, it’s still possible. When they first realized I had a stroke, they told my husband and my family, they didn’t know if I’d ever walk again.

How are you doing? Are you walking?

I’m walking without an assistive device. I remember sitting in the wheelchair feeling very alone and people look down on you. Not necessarily, just figuratively. Literally, people when they talk to you, they look down on you. I struggled with that. We had to maneuver around places and if I needed to use the restroom, to open the door and be able to push myself into the heavy restroom door. It’s hard and difficult. I don’t worry about that now. I can now open the door with my hand and walk in. I don’t necessarily need to use the handicapped stall because I can fit in and out of the regular stall without a wheelchair. Those are logistics that I had to experience in the beginning going out in public.

It’s interesting because everyone expects, “It’s easy, the bathroom. You’re a male. You can stand up and you can do your thing.” I hate it so much. I was so afraid of peeing that I thought I was going to fall over and pee all over myself because I was like, “I can’t get my balance here and I had no left hand.” My left hand is spasming and I’m trying to pee in the toilet. I had to say, “God, please let me get through this moment in time.” People don’t see it or understand it. I’m proud of you because this what’s going on with you and your life at the moment. The fact that you don’t need a cane or a device, that’s awesome. You should be proud of that.

I am proud and I jokingly say, “Doctors are just practicing medicine. They don’t know how well and where my body’s going to go. They only get an idea.” I’m not upset that anybody said, “She may never walk again.” I look at it as there’s a goal to beat. I’m going to walk again and they’re going to see me walking again and my family’s going to see me walk again. I’m going to stand up proud. Sometimes my girls will forget and I’m like, “Remember when I have you sit in a wheelchair, you would have to help me get in the car. Now mommy can drive, take you to school, pick you up from school, go on field trips and do all the things I need to do as a mommy.” That’s awesome. That’s why I’m at peace with everything.

Dwelling in the past will not make you a better person tomorrow. Click To Tweet

You got your freedom back and that’s amazing. That’s the blessing, but you worked your way off for that. It’s not easy and life wasn’t expecting this. Let’s talk about what good has come out of your stroke. I want to hear it. You said to me, you met new friends, you met me. You gained so much benefits out of this at the same time, which I’m now learning because I get in my moments. I think everybody has their moments of like, “Why me? Poor me. Self-pity. Look at me.” You sent me early on a text and said, “I have deficits.” Tina, listen to me carefully. In my eyes, you’re 100%.

Thank you. What I’ve gained is I volunteer in the rehab unit and I talked to people, whether they’ve had a stroke or not. Somebody asked me to talk to a lady who had experienced an amputation. He was like, “I know you don’t have an amputation, but can you talk to her?” I went and talked to her. She was stressed about income and everything. I got a social worker to come and talk to her. The next time I was at rehab, I saw her wheeling around in her wheelchair out of her room, which they had said she wasn’t doing. I felt like I can give back.

There’s something about me being disabled or not moving well that for people that are disabled or don’t move well, I can have empathy for it and understanding. I volunteered there in rehab and I talked to stroke survivors. Sometimes it’s validating their emotions. I had one man say, “Were you angry?” I was like, “Yes.” He was like, “Were you angry at your brain?” I was like, “Yes.” “Were you angry at the doctor?” I was like, “Yes.” Sometimes we need someone to understand that it’s okay. It’s a process. That’s why I love you, Seany. You’re out there sharing this knowledge with everyone. It helps to feel not so alone in the dark times.

You’re vulnerable. We’re both vulnerable. We’re both doing it. My show, which my producer, Nick, started me out. I remember when I first started this thing, I had three audiences and then he kept saying, “Keep going.” It turned into 100 and turned into 1,000 and it kept growing because everyone’s in pain and everyone is disabled. Everyone’s got something wrong. No one is perfect.

What I picked up on hearing you tell that story, Tina, is it doesn’t matter what injury someone is going through. When you go and talk to them, what you’re sharing is the will, determination and the mindset you’ve cultivated. That’s powerful to any human being, no matter what they’re going through. Your experience and the perspective you have afterwards is a clear indication that you, internally as much as externally, overcome tremendous obstacles.

I also have opportunities to volunteer with doctor to physical therapy students. I go into their neuro class and they practice different techniques to help their patients. I am very much pleased to work it because one day those PTs are going to be treating people like you, like Seany and I. The more I can get them comfortable working with people that have persons with disability, the more likely they are going to want to help us. I share with them that I’m a person first. I had a stroke and that’s how you treat me, but I’m a mom and a wife, I’m a daughter, I’m all those things long before I’m your patient. Sometimes it’s hard. It’s scary when you see someone that’s had a stroke, especially in the beginning, they have so many different movements that are abnormal and you’re like, “Where should I start?”

I want to help them feel comfortable working with people like me and I love it. I leave those labs much greater than I’ve ever walked into those labs. It feels good when the students come up to me and tell me, “Your story inspired me. I want to help people that had a stroke.” Sometimes we joke that everybody gets into physical therapy because they want to help athletes and orthopedic injuries. I want them to help neurological injuries like me and I don’t know, I’m blessed. Ultimately, I’m blessed. I’m blessed that I’ve made friends in the physical therapy world that I wouldn’t have had. I also collaborated, starting a stroke support group here in Loma Linda. I live in Highland in Loma Linda and it was working with the speech therapist that I saw in rehab.

Her son-in-law is the neurological professor that I have the opportunity to come and talk with. His wife lets us use her pediatric physical therapy facility to house our stroke support group. We started out and I was like, “Nobody’s going to come to this. What are you doing?” This little voice inside my head said, “If you build it, they will come.” Now we have probably about twenty stroke survivors that come consistently monthly. I love to hear their gains or when they come in a wheelchair and then they walk in the door. We’re excited for each other.

They’re my family and we can be excited about conquering certain things because we know how hard it is to get yourself out of that wheelchair and walk into the door somewhere. All of the activities that go along with it, the fatigue and sharing your story, and I love it. I love where I’m at and I love that I’m here because I had a stroke and I can make a change in people’s lives and make a difference in people who have definitely made a difference in my life.

Tina, you are becoming the woman you’re destined to be. Do you know that? That is huge.

AIH 36 | Brain Cancer
Brain Cancer: Sometimes it’s hard and scary when you see someone that’s had a stroke, especially in the beginning, and they have so many different movements that are abnormal.

 

I feel that.

Something else too. I know I’m going to go off the beaten path here because I always talk from a male perspective, but I can’t even imagine being a female and trying to do female things. I don’t know how you put on a bra. How do you do feminine hygiene? I had never experienced that, but to put a tie on or earrings or do what you do. You’ve had to relearn everything all over again. I’m sure Shane helps you or your kids.

I owe it to therapy. I believe that people were placed in my life and I had an amazing therapist and they helped me give me my life back. That’s why I get back to rehab and volunteering with the physical therapist is because I feel they’ve helped me regain things that I didn’t know I was going to have. I believe in God. I have faith that I survived and I need to make something of it. Just a few months ago, my dad’s best friend died from complications of a stroke and I didn’t die. My family did not have to bury me and because of that, I feel I need to give back. I need to get back with 100% and more because I was given the opportunity to have a second life. I love and do all the things that my dad’s best friend was not able to do. Dying is permanent. Having a stroke, I don’t feel is permanent. I keep making progress, I keep moving forward and I feel as long as I can keep moving forward and being a part of this community and bettering people to help understand, I feel that’s my life story.

It’s huge. What you’re stating is it doesn’t matter if you had a stroke or not. People are going to wake up on the wrong side of the bed. They’re going to have the bad day, they’re going to be late to a meeting, they’re going to get in a car accident, they’re going to stub their toe. They’re going to look at you and go, “If Tina Hollands can do this and get out and drive, then I can do it.” I hear that all the time. Stroke or no stroke, you’re inspiring those abled body and non-abled body because we’re all non-abled if you look at it or disabled. I mean the veterans, the people who can’t even afford therapy are stuck. You are going to be a voice that people can look up and go, “If Tina can make it up on stage or she can write a book or she can do this other stuff or go help people, then I can do it.” That’s what life’s all about. You’re sharing the message and love.

Sometimes I think when I’m putting my shopping cart away and I’d see all these shopping carts left, I’m like, “If I can do it with half of my body, you should be able to put the shopping cart away too.” I know this is like my joke, but I’m like, “If I can do it, you can do it too.”

Good for you and your kids are going to see or what they see now is a mom who is strong and resilient and who beat the odds. Your kids are going to grow up and be bigger and better than you could ever imagine.

I feel when you fall off the bike, parents are like “Never get back on that bike.” I feel that’s how my life’s been. I had some trials and tribulations, but if I don’t show my kids that life’s worth living regardless, they’re going to say, “I can’t hear. Your actions speak louder than yours.” Life is beautiful. I’ve been given a second chance at living and I’m going to make the best of it. I don’t know why I was given a second chance, but I’m going to make the best out of what I have. One day I hope my kids do look back. They’re young, they’re only four and seven now.

One day, I want them to be like “My mom’s a badass because she did all of this regardless of how she was.” Honestly, feminine hygiene and putting bras on and off, those are things that you learn. The bra is the hardest thing. I think even putting a bra on before I had it, it was like, “I’ve got to put on a bra.” You find ways to make things work. I strap it together and then I put it on over my head like I would put a sports bra. Sometimes I just wear sports bras.

I’m questioning like I can go deeper on this, the time of the month and everything else that goes on. I have two daughters and they’re hitting that age, and I’m asking you going, “I don’t know how you do what you do, but it’s amazing.” You’re no longer Tina to me. You’re now called the badass. Tell me a little bit about what is your diet like? What do you fill your body with? What do you do? I know you’re active. We talked about the keto diet before. Taylor here is a health guru. He’s a keto expert, but he knows more about food and what we put in our body as most MDs do. Let’s nerd out. I want to know about the supplements you’re taking, your diet, your workout plan. Tell me all of it.

I do keto. I feel the best when I get my brain out of eating processed foods. I try to walk. My goal is to do 10,000 steps a day. I hit anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 a day. Sometimes if I don’t get it, I’ll take my girls around the block and I’ll let them ride their scooter or whatever. We walk around the block until I can get those steps into where they need to be. I’ve been keeping my brain and my body as healthy as I can. I tried to eliminate all processed carbs like chips in any of that stuff. It’s not healthy for me. It’s not healthy for my brain because my brain has to work extra hard to fill in the parts that aren’t working. I feel I need to get my brain everything I can to make it as powerful and strong as possible.

Work harder to improve and get better in life. Click To Tweet

I’m on board with what you’re doing because the heart of the ketogenic diet is reducing inflammation in the body and giving the brain this powerful fuel source to take care of itself. In my experience working with clients and doing consultations, oftentimes the biggest factor in what people are dealing with is inflammation in the body and stress. The ketogenic diet strategy happens to help with both of those at the same time.

I feel the best mentally and physically when I have eliminated the processed foods, garbage out and I eat healthier. I want my girls to see that too. Not just like if what size clothes I wear, but how my brain works the best. When I feed it, the fuel that is healthy for it, I’m more productive, I sleep better, I move better, I feel better. I’ve been able to come off all my medications. I don’t take medicine for anything anymore. When I first came home from the hospital, I had so many medications. My husband would have to put it out for me weekly. It was overwhelming. It was taxing on my brain to think about all the medications I had to take and had to set the alarm to make sure I took them at certain times. I don’t have to do that anymore.

That’s crazy because I felt the same way, anxiety over taking meds. You are taking meds to cure the anxiety, but you’re getting anxiety because you’ve got to remember to take your anxiety meds or antidepressant pills every couple of hours or every day. If you miss one, then it throws up the chemistry in your body. By eliminating some of your pills, the anxiety is going away.

It’s nice not to have to go pay for those pills all the time.

Which are thousands of dollars. Even though it’s co-pays and you still walking out $80 to $100 every time when you’re picking up five or six pills with the co-pay, so I get that. I call it ridiculous. Your kids are still pretty young, I forgot the age, can you just tell me again?

One and seven.

Wait until they get to nine and twelve. I’ve got to call Shane because I need to get a bigger gun. They start looking at boys and they start to become females. My oldest now is a twelve-ager and my little girl was like leaving me and it’s killing me. It’s like, “Where are you? Who is this girl?”

I’m enjoying this time. I know it’s going to get harder.

What did you say, Sean? Let me tell the story. We were in the car and he asked his daughter, “Have you seen my Instagram?” “How’s it going?” She goes, “It’s cringe.”

I have no idea what that even means still.

AIH 36 | Brain Cancer
Brain Cancer: The grass is so much greener when you have people who love and support you.

 

It’s like cringe-worthy. You’ve never heard that expression?

The face you make when something’s like ewe.

She said, “I don’t like it because it’s too much about you and stroke.” I was like, “Sorry, but this is what my team is putting out there.” She goes, “It’s cringe and I won’t look at it.” I was like, “Thanks.” This is what I have to deal with it now. My youngest, who is on her iPhone, I got her whatever, the iPhone 8 and she was like, “When do I get the iPhone X?” I was like, “Excuse me? What is happening here? Who is paying for this iPhone?” I want my kids to be four and seven again. If we can do any of that, I would love it. I’ll trade with you any day of the week.

How about I let you have my four and seven-year-old for a day and then I know what it’s like to be a pre-teenage girl. It was a long time ago, but I remember, and I’m not looking forward to it.

I bet Shane is going to hate it and get going, “Seany, what do I do? I’m off to work.” He’ll find it easier being on duty being a deputy than dealing with his daughters at times, I guarantee you that. It’d be like he’ll want to go roll all day. Just so everyone knows, Shane, her husband is a big-time UFC guy and he was a brown belt in jiu-jitsu, which everyone should know, a brown belt in jiu-jitsu is like having the black belt in any other degree or form. This guy is pretty much a badass. I believe Tina is an Alpha female in the family. We invited Shane down to come to watch Dan Henderson’s amateur fight in Temecula, but he was like, “I’ve got to ask my wife.” I saw the text thread going back and forth and Tina said, “You have to be at the kids’ school at this time.” He was like, “I can’t make it down to see you, Seany. The boss is talking to me.” That’s who you are. You take care of your family because you are resilient. You’re the badass.

I listened to Brad Berman‘s podcast too and I agree with him 100% when he talked about his support from this community. I had people set up a GoFundMe account. I had the Crossfit gym that I went to, did a burpeethon for me to raise money. I had friends donate breast milk for my newborn baby. Those are people that made me feel motivated to keep working towards. These people made a difference in my life. They gave monetarily, they gave us food. I felt like I needed to stay motivated to show them that their investment in me was not wasted. On my worst days when I was like I don’t think I can make another day, it was like “Tina, people believed in you enough to donate their money, their food and their time.” That community that I have, meeting people like Seany and people in my support group, that makes it everything. The grass is so much greener now than it ever was before because I have people that loved me for who I am now, not for who I was before.

In my life, I thought if I ran a marathon, if I did it under this time, if I did this and this, that’s the only way I can be loved. I’m finding that people love me for me and I love it. There’s a community of people out there that love me for me, and I’m humbled by the number of people that have taken an interest in my life. Sometimes they send me a text that say, “I love you. I’m thinking about you.” I’m so happy I’m on the journey I’m on and that I’ve made the best of what I could make from what I was told that I might never be able to do these things or to doing them.

I don’t feel I’m just a survivor. I feel I’m a thriver. I thrived in this world and I feel I’ve come out on top. I have faith in God and I believe that has helped. Working in physical therapy, I always wonder why do some people that have the most horrible diagnosis or outcome that they could have, put a smile on their face when other people stubbed their toe and like it’s the end of the world. I was wondering what makes people feel that way. I feel it’s a community of people that I’ve chosen to put myself with and I have an amazing community.

My mom helps me out as often as I need to get my girls to places when I can’t always be in two places at once. I have an amazing husband that has done more for me than I ever expected him to have to do or see me go through and help me. I remember parking in parking spots and he would move the space because he was like, “It’s not going to be easy for you to maneuver around that.” I was like “That lets me know that he loves me.” No matter what I’m at, he was my logistics man when I couldn’t be my logistics. When he saw like, “There’s a curb right there. It’s going to be a little bit hard to move around. Let me find a different spot,” and I love that. I love that I have this community of people that loved me for me and not for who I was or who I wanted to be, but for who I am right now.

You change your state of mind by the people you surround yourself with. You’re responsible now and accountable to not only yourself, your children and your husband, but you’re accountable to the community who supports you because you cannot let them down. That is huge. I hope everyone out there gets that.

Dying is permanent, but having a stroke is not. Click To Tweet

You’re touching on what I’ve noticed is a common theme for many of the guests and people we talk to is this power of community to help people heal. Beyond that, what I’ve noticed with you specifically, Tina, is you have this champion mindset. I’m wondering, how did you start to develop that mindset of where you are now.

I’m not sure where it started. I think I was born with it. I always wanted to be better than where I was. If I didn’t get an A on a test. I wanted an A on that test. If I ran a nine-minute mile, then I wanted to run an eight minute, 30-second mile, I always wanted more from myself and expected more. I feel that’s just like something innate that I was born with that I always wanted more than where I was at. I always want to do better.

I feel people are watching like my kids are watching my actions. I don’t know if I would have made the recovery that I’ve made had it not been for them. Had it not been for them on the days I didn’t want to get out of bed that they were like, “Mommy, we’re hungry.” As a mommy, they were too little to make their own food. I had to get out of bed and do it. I remember, Seany, on one of his interviews he talked about you go through a why me? Why me and why not me? I tell people why not me? I’m not better than any other person in this world. Why not?

My line is it’s not about why me, it’s about what’s next.

I totally get that. I’m there and I’m working on my what’s next and I’m excited. I don’t know where it’s going to lead, but I’m excited.

Let’s make a bold statement. Tina, what’s next?

I hear a book. I hear you’re taking a stage.

I would love to take the stage, but I don’t know. I’m working on getting back into school. I’m thinking about changing my career to work as a rehabilitation counselor. It works with people that have some disability, whether PTSD, physical limitations and helping them find a new career path. It’s strong in my heart. I’m not ready to be retired. I was 36 when I had my stroke. I’m 40 now. I did not have the retirement that I would have when it came to retiring. I feel I’ve been given this opportunity that I can go back to school and I can work with persons with disabilities again in a different area. I help with physical therapy and aquatic therapy now, but I think there’s more for me.

My bold statement is I’m going to go back to college and I’m going to find a new career path. Continuing to work with people with a disability but in a new light like getting them back into the workforce, finding something for them to be able to do it. I’m excited and I was sharing that with some friends. Going back to school is a little scary being a mom and having a brain injury, but we live in a country that I have accommodations that are accessible for me and not every person has that.

The PT students I speak with, sometimes I speak to international PT students and I don’t remember where this person was from. He said in his home country, people that have had a stroke get institutionalized so they get put away. You’re not to be out in public and they’re like hush-hush whatever. We don’t see them in public. I live in a place where I can be seen and heard and make a difference in people’s lives. I love that and I’m going to take full advantage of that.

AIH 36 | Brain Cancer
Brain Cancer: It’s a little scary being a mom and having a brain injury, but we live in a country that has accommodations that make things accessible.

 

My tagline is “I can, I shall, I will.” Tony Boudia who was on the show too, he took his first steps because of that. You are living the I can, I shall, I will movement because you’re doing it and you’re showing up, which is brilliant.

Tina, I’m so inspired by your story, your words, and your mindset. Unfortunately, we were coming towards the end of our time together, but I have one final question for you. It’s a question we ask all our guests and it’s what’s your inspiration?

I have so many. My husband, my kids, my family, my faith. People touching my life. People like Seany inspires me to go a little bit further, a little bit harder and to make things a little bit brighter in this world. I’m inspired by people like Seany and the thousands of people that are living with a disability whether stroke, Parkinson’s, MS or anything. When I see somebody struggling out in public, I’m like, “Look at them. They’re out here. Good for you.” I’m inspired by the community, by God, by my children. My children are my huge inspiration. If anything, one day they’re going to look back and I want them to be like, “My mommy did this despite all this stuff that she had stacked against her. My mommy still did it.” That means a lot. They may not understand it for a very long time, but one day they will.

I’m touched. I’m now in tears. You rock. You’re the badass, you’re my badass and you’re everyone else’s badass. Tina Hollands, the badass.

Thank you so much, Tina. We look forward to connecting with you again.

We want to come down to your support group. If you want to invite us, we’ll come down and see you. If you want me to speak, I’d be happy to. I’d love it.

That would be awesome, Seany. I love it. I hope we can make it happen. We’ve got to make it happen.

Let’s go do this. If I commit, I’m going to show up.

I’m excited to see where your podcast continues to lead you. I feel if you build it, they will come. I feel that’s all on you right now. If you build it, Seany, they will come.

Thank you. You’re next to me on this. I’m not doing this alone. I got you and Shane. Shane’s got to take care of my six and you’re next to me on going forward with it right now.

I can, I shall, I will. Click To Tweet

Maybe one day we’ll do it when I’m graduating and look at me, I graduated with a brain tumor.

I’ll be clapping with two hands and saying, “That’s my badass.”

Now you can, you shall, you will.

I’m going to sit back in awe and watch it all.

Tina, thank you so much, and we’ll figure out when for us to come down. Maybe if you allow us, we can film it too as well and bring it to the audience as well. I love you and thank you. Give my love and God bless you, your husband and your kids.

God bless you too and thank you for doing this. Thank you for making a difference in people’s lives because you’ve touched my life in more ways than you may ever know. I appreciate you coming out and being a spokesman for us and fighting the good fight. I feel that’s what we’re all doing, we’re fighting a good fight and we’re all victors in the end. We’re all thriving and I love it. I love to see people who have been told they can’t and being able to do they can and make the impossible possible. I love you, Seany. I’m grateful to have you and thank you.

I love you and your family. It’s brilliant that we’re in the community together. Thank you, Tina.

Thank you, guys.

Have a beautiful day, Tina.

We’ll talk to you. I love you.

Important Links:

About Tina Hollands

AIH 36 | Brain CancerA few days after giving birth to her second child in June 2014, Tina Hollands experienced debilitating headaches. After doctor appointments and no answers, the headaches lead her to the ER where slow growing hormonally fed baseball-sized brain tumor was found. Tina suffered a stroke when a craniotomy was being performed in Aug 2014. The stroke happened on the right side of her brain and she experienced left-sided weakness. The doctors told her family she would be lucky to walk with a walker. In rehab, she felt as though she was robbed from her health and her capacity to being a mother, wife, and friend. Her drivers’ license was suspended. She felt like her life was ruined and shattered and she was unsure about how she could ever be a mom, wife, friend again. Four years later, she has been able to regain it all with hard work and perseverance.

Today Tina walks unassisted. She is raising two young daughters with her husband. She belongs to a local support group where she meets with other amazing survivors that are thriving in life. She speaks to PT students at a local university as a Physical Therapy Assistant and volunteers at a rehab hospital where Tina speaks to new stroke survivors. Tina’s quote: “Honestly, my life is good, it is different from how I pictured life to be but I am able to enjoy life and be active/present in life. In four years I have met caring, thriving people. I believe I am thriving post my stroke!”

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