Everything Happens for a Reason
I believed that everything happens for a reason long before I found out I had a brain tumor. After I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, I still felt that way. We may not know why all of the time, but every once in a while we find out. My story is one of those times. My story starts in March of 2010 after I had a serious snowboard accident. I was able to walk away but was ultimately taken to the emergency room by ambulance after being checked out by ski patrol. I had dislocated my shoulder, partially dislocated some ribs and had a concussion. About a month after my accident I was still not recovering from my concussion so my neurologist decided to order and MRI to see if there was anything else going on. About a month and a half after my accident I had the MRI done. They found a mass in my cerebellum and another MRI was ordered this time with contrast. On May 3, 2010 I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I was 21 and 1,700 miles away from home at school in Colorado and by myself. I had never felt so scared and alone.
When I went back home I saw doctors at John’s Hopkins and Children’s National Medical Center. Both doctors I saw agreed that I needed to have surgery sooner rather than later and if I decided to wait I would need to do at least have MRI’s every 3 months to make sure it wasn’t growing. Due to it’s location in my cerebellum it was pressing on my brain stem so I decided to go ahead and have the surgery so that I wouldn’t have to worry about having emergency surgery during the school year if it did in fact grow. On June 25, 2010, 3 weeks after having shoulder surgery to repair damage from my accident, I had surgery with Dr. Myseros (best doctor ever!) at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington D.C. I spent 3 days in the hospital (one in the ICU). A few days after being home we got the great news that my tumor was the type of tumor they thought I had and that they had gotten all of the tumor. I had a Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma (JPA), a benign tumor.
Six weeks after my surgery I was back in Colorado at school. It took a about 6-7 months for my energy level to get back up to normal. Not having my normal energy level was really hard for me since I’m an athlete and that was the first time in my life I had taken more than 2 weeks off from sports. Before I found out I had a brain tumor my balance had been getting progressively worse but I just thought it was because I hadn’t been working on my balance. Since the surgery my balance has improved tremendously without even working on it! 🙂 Now I can definitely say I am back to where I was before my accident. On June 26, 2011 to celebrate being a 1 year (and 1 day) brain tumor SURVIVOR, I will be competing in my first triathlon in over two and a half years! In September, I will be competing in my 1st half Ironman distance triathlon! I am so excited about these two races! I could not think of a more perfect way for me to say I WIN and a brain tumor will not stop me from accomplishing the things in my life that I want to accomplish! If it wasn’t for my snowboard accident and concussion who knows how long it would have been before they found out I had a brain tumor. Now I can help spread the word about GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME® and brain tumor awareness by sharing my story.