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Brain Surgery

Published on March 21, 2024 in Share Your Story

Guest Author: Nicole C. in NYC

In July 2021, I was hit with a life-changing diagnosis: a large acoustic neuroma tumor had been growing in my brain for 15 years. It was a moment that completely turned my life upside down. I was battling severe vertigo, lost hearing in my right ear, suffered constant migraines, and faced many other challenges.

The surgery in August 2021 was intense. It lasted 10 hours, during which I was fixed in a head vice on a metal table, leading to the 5-month loss of my facial nerves. The aftermath was tough — I had to relearn basic skills like walking, talking, and seeing through extensive rehabilitation, including occupational, physical, vision, and speech therapy.

Waking up in the ICU in severe pain and facing everyone upside down was disorienting and a moment I never wanted to experience again. Spending 10 days in intensive hospital care, unable to walk, close my eye, talk, or eat, marked the beginning of a long recovery process. Despite the permanent deafness in my right ear, I managed to regain my vision and spirit. 

Just when I thought the battle was behind me, the tumor mutated and grew back by May 2023. I faced my second procedure, gamma knife radiosurgery, with hope. I was hit with the devastating news that it failed, despite only a 10% chance of that happening. Then, on January 29, 2024, I underwent emergency brain surgery with a more aggressive approach, risking permanent facial nerve damage. Thankfully, the surgery was successful, preserving my facial nerve. However, I woke up with facial paralysis that will take months to come back. 

I’m sharing my story from my bed, hopeful yet realistic about the future. I need to be patient with myself and remember that this will be behind me. I will run more marathons while raising money for the National Brain Tumor Society, and I will make a difference for others who are going through this.

Most importantly, I continue to draw strength from the incredible support of the National Brain Tumor Society and the unwavering love of my family and friends. This journey has been incredibly hard, with pain that’s impossible to describe to others who aren’t going through this. Through it all, I’ve learned the power of choosing love over fear, the importance of patience, and the strength that comes from a supportive community. My fight isn’t over, but I’m facing it with an army of support behind me.

TAGGED WITH: acoustic neuroma

Opinions expressed within this story belong solely to the author and do not reflect the views or opinions of the National Brain Tumor Society.

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