Your Town Friday: Meet “Kimformation”

Indianapolis, Ind. - Kim Nguyen was 37 and as far as she knew, she was healthy. Although she had noticed some morning headaches for a couple weeks.

One day she took her daughter to a birthday party and Kim got hit in the head with a golf ball.

"The next morning I woke up and had the worst headache ever and I said, I better get this checked out," said Kim.

A scan of her head showed a baseball-sized tumor.

"Wow, I’m going to die. That’s what I thought, even as a Christian. I’m going to die."

"I said, no no no, I just got hit in the head with a golf ball yesterday, that’s blood or a bruise you’re seeing. And the surgeon said, kiddo it's real, it’s there, and it needs to come out today or tomorrow. We can't wait."

IU Health Neurosurgeon Dr. Scott Shapiro performed the delicate surgery. Kim's brain was monitored every three months and 19 months later, another tumor appeared. It was the size of a golf ball. And this time, it was cancerous.

Soon, Kim was back under Dr. Shapiro's knife.

After a long recovery, as she sat filing records at her job at Methodist Hospital, she started thinking.

"I thought, God didn’t keep me around to talk to a bunch of files."

She told people at the Neuroscience building to keep her in mind if a position became available. Something opened up all right!

"They opened up a position here for me!" said Kim. "I work the front lobby at Guest Relations."

She quickly earned the nickname "Kimformation" and what she does for people is something not many guest relations hosts can do.

"I see that they’ve lost hope. When people come through, I know they may be getting a diagnosis and they’re waiting to see what their scan says."

"They ask me, do you know where Doctor Shapiro is? Well guess what, I do and let me tell you a little story. I’m a two time brain tumor cancer survivor. He was my surgeon."

"And they’re shocked and they say, are you kidding me? This is exactly what I needed to hear, and then they bust out and cry."

Dr. Shapiro loves having her greet his patients!

"She always is optimistic with them and tells them they have a chance and they’re going to the right people and so it’s good to have an advocate like that," said Dr. Shapiro.

"The doctors take care of the healing part," said Kim. "I bring the hope."

Kim will have been cancer-free for 16 years this July.

There is another twist to Kim's story. When she got the news, her first thought was, "Wow, I have four kids at home, and then I also have a son that I placed up for adoption and he was going to be turning 16 and I hadn’t met him since his birth. I want to live to see my kids graduate, but I also want to meet my first born."

She was able to meet her first born son and they continue to be in touch. She lives in Avon with her husband Tom. Her five kids are Matt, Calvin, Colin, Rachel and Spencer. Calvin is studying Neurobiology!

Kim continues to get checks every six months, but Dr. Shapiro is confident Kim's tumor will not return.

When Kim was going through her medical battle, someone suggested she keep a journal. She did. She later felt led to write a book, and she used that journal to write, Between the Tumor and the Tomb: A Diary of Doom and Deliverance.