In August of 2010, my life took a turn into the unknown. After months of experiencing dizziness among other symptoms, my parents took me to my pediatrician to get checked out. My doctor did blood work to check for all sorts of answers to my symptoms. The following day, my family and I received a call that some of my hormone levels were extremely elevated and recommended that I have a brain MRI. Two days before I started my freshman year of high school, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
At the time, I did not understand what a brain tumor meant, how that would change how I act or how I looked or how I felt. In the grand scheme of it all, I was fortunate enough that my tumor was benign, and in fact the size of a pencil tip. However, the impact my pituitary micro adenoma had on my life was by no means microscopic.
My years of treatment involved many trial and error periods with different medications with the idea that if a medication could lower my hormone levels, I would be able to live with my brain tumor. However, after two years and a few different types of medication, my hormone levels only lowered a slight amount and my symptoms progressed.
I felt isolated and embarrassed at school, and lost my drive and passion for the things I used to love. I had once wanted to travel the world and spend my days at school and with friends and taking photographs and to challenge myself to any new adventure I could grasp. After two years living with my brain tumor, my adventurous and independent self was gone.
In February of 2012, my endocrinologist and neurosurgeon at Mass General Hospital made the decision for me to undergo brain surgery and have my tumor removed. My surgeon was incredible and was able to remove all of my tumor, bringing my hormone levels back down to a normal level.
Every 3-6 months since, I have gotten blood drawn, met with my endocrinologist, and have a brain MRI annually. The five years remission process has been filled with ups and downs and scares of a potential recurrence as my hormone levels fluctuate. As of now, I am 5 years brain tumor free and I have gained back all that my tumor took from me. I have started to travel across the world, I’ve completed three years of my undergraduate career at the University of New Hampshire, discovered and pursued my passion for improving the lives of children, and I have gained back my sense of self and independence.
Brain tumors come in all shapes and sizes, benign and malignant, and affect every one of all sizes and color and gender. Brain tumors affect every aspect of every day life. It is our role to continue to fight against this disease, to research for treatment and a cure for all brain tumors, and to save the lives of every individual, friend, and family member affected.