For years I would not talk about my brain tumor story, and I am not sure why. I am pretty shy and do not like to be the center of attention and really didn’t want people feeling sorry for me…so maybe that was it??
My first brain tumor diagnosis was in 1999 when I was 15 and I think I was so young and naïve that after having grand mal seizures and being diagnosed with a papillary meningioma – which I had no clue about either one of those – I just put my faith and trust in God, the doctors and my parents! I mean I was a kid so surely everything was going to be ok.
My surgeon was absolutely amazing! Having three daughters of his own, he told me he understood the importance of hair to a teenage girl and said he would shave the least amount off as possible for him to go in and do what needs to be done! Six hours later, the craniotomy was a success, I spent a couple weeks at home, returned to high school, and life went on. (Luckily side pony tails and messy buns were in so I could somewhat hide my half shaved head!)
I mean I was definitely a changed person, very cautious of things, scared to do things, anxiety attacks just thinking about it happening again….but life in general went on. Graduated high school and went on to college getting my annual scans and the report that “my brain was empty!” Which was always good news!
Fast forward to my five year scan. I was a senior in college living 10 hours away from home and just back in town for my Dr. visit for them to tell me all was still clear and “empty”. But that was not the news we got. The tumor had come back, same place, a little bigger. This time I was a little older and a lot more scared. Wondering why and mistakenly finding my time searching the internet…BAD IDEA!
I spent spring break of my senior year in college having a craniotomy, luckily even though I was over 18 I was still able to go to the Children’s Hospital and have the same amazing surgeon! Thanks to a great surgeon, my family, faith and the power of prayer surgery was a success and this time they decided that I would need to do radiation. I went back to school, graduated, and then came home to spend the summer after college graduation at the James Cancer Institute.
My parents and I (mainly Mom) spent a lot of time together (in the car, in the waiting room, at the house) and I could not have gotten through it with out them. Radiation did its trick, for the tumor…not so much for my hair!
Fast forward again, to now…I am 37 and still get my scans done (bi-annually) to hear the best words ever, “Your brain is empty!” At 37 I am just now realizing that my brain tumor story is MY STORY. It is who I am and I am so blessed and extremely grateful to be a Survivor. I’m still not sure why it took me this long to openly talk about my story and to be proud on #thegrayscale. I hear so many stories of people who did not have a story ending like mine and I want to let them know that I pray for them, their families, the volunteers and the advocates raising awareness.
Thank you for letting me share my story!