Stage 3 Brain Cancer Survivor
I was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor when I was 26 years old. I graduated from law school on May 18, 2013. On May 19th, I had a seizure after running, and the hospital in La Jolla, CA diagnosed me with a large egg-sized tumor in the left temporal lobe of my brain. A few days thereafter, I flew back to Maryland with my parents to be seen by the Neurosurgery Department at Johns Hopkins Hospital. On June 12th, I underwent a 7.5 hour craniotomy, and was informed that although 95% of my tumor was benign, roughly 5% was malignant. That 5% was a stage 3 anaplastic astrocytoma brain tumor, and I was medically treated as a stage 4 glioblastoma patient.
My chemotherapy and radiation treatments both began in July 2013. I finished my radiation treatment in September 2013, and my chemo treatment in May 2014. During treatment, I tried my best to take care of myself mentally and physically — mostly through eating well, exercising, and reaching out to others when, despite my efforts, things were not going well. I am INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL for the love and support I received from my amazing parents, family, and friends, who undoubtedly helped me get through these terrible times. Thankfully, while in the midst of my chemo treatment, I was able to run the Baltimore Running Festival 5K (November 2013), the Rock n’ Roll Las Vegas half marathon (November 2013), and two Race for Hope 5Ks with the National Brain Tumor Society (November 2013 in Philadelphia and May 2014 in D.C.), through which my friends helped “Team Smith” raise funds to be donated to brain tumor research.
I finished cancer treatment in May 2014, but a few months thereafter, faced another brain-based complication. My MRI in August 2014 revealed that I had a rapidly growing cyst developing where my tumor was removed, which occurs is roughly 50% of patients who have had a fairly large tumor removed. I had a second, 4 hour craniotomy on August 18, 2014 to have the cyst drained. Thankfully, no cancer was found.
I’ve been healing well since my last surgery, and am ready to tell my story and share my thoughts with those who can relate, and their caretakers. I’d also like to get back to work, so I hope to accomplish this endeavors through the blog on stephstrong.com.