Kelsey Banks received a brain tumour diagnosis in January
By Diego Flammini
A member of Ontario’s ag industry is inviting people along on her journey as she battles a health issue.
Kelsey Banks, a producer and agronomist from Kemptville, Ont., periodically posts updates to her Twitter account as she receives treatment for a grade II astrocytoma brain tumour.
Her first posts came after some of her farm clients expressed concern when they hadn’t heard from her for an extended period.
“I was getting a few messages from them as news (of my diagnosis) started to spread,” she told Farms.com. “Mentally and emotionally at the time, I couldn’t respond to everyone, and I just wanted to be able to say it once until I became more settled with the idea of having to go through this.”
Banks had a nocturnal seizure on Dec. 27, 2019, which put her health journey in motion.
Her first tweets about her condition came as a thread on Jan. 27 of this year, four days after a neurologist from St. Michael’s Hospital in downtown Toronto gave her the official diagnosis.
Her messages outlined what had been happening in the month leading up to that point, including hospital appointments and how she was at the Certified Crop Advisor pre-exam workshop when she received an emergency call related to her health.
Since then, she’s used the hashtag #KelseyStrong when providing updates.
“People were asking for updates, so I wanted to keep them aware of what was going on,” she said. “People have also asked me about brain tumours and signs and symptoms. I hope that by my posting, anyone who thinks something may be wrong goes and gets checked out.”
She had a craniotomy (where surgeons remove a bone flap from the skull temporarily to access the brain) in February, radiation treatments in June and July and, in September, completed her first round of post-op chemotherapy. She plans to do three more rounds of chemo.
The latest post from Tuesday shows Banks in a photo with a bald spot on her head following chemotherapy treatment alongside the book Praying Through Cancer.
Kelsy Banks photo
On Oct. 8, she posted that her MRI report is showing her tumour, which she has named Bob, is shrinking.
She doesn’t post everything and admittedly has good and bad days. But she tries to be “realistic and optimistic,” she said.
Her messages are met with support from other members of the ag community, which reaffirms the industry is filled with good people.
“I always knew agriculture was full of wonderful people, and the support I have been getting confirms this,” she said.
Banks’s health journey has forced her to slow down a little bit and take time for herself.
A self-proclaimed busy body, she’s now on sick leave from work, had her license suspended and had to move out of her place in Drayton, Ont. to move back home.
“Within five minutes of talking to my neurologist, my life did a complete flip,” she said. “I was very physically fit, I didn’t get sick very easily and now I’m having to tell people I have a brain tumour. It’s life-changing.”
Even when she first received her diagnosis, she put the needs of others before her own.
“It hadn’t even sunk in for me and all I could think was I didn’t want to let the farmers down,” she said. “It burned me that I wouldn’t be able to follow through on commitments with clients I was working with.”
Now with the time to reflect, Banks has refocused on some goals she has for herself.
“I’ve come to realize that life is too short to be wishy-washy on some things,” she said. I thought it would be cool to be a fitness instructor part time. I used to put that idea to the side, but now I know it’s something I do want to do, and it’s a goal of mine.”