In 2005, I was 15 years old. I had headaches my entire life and had lost my hearing in one ear, but as a kid I never thought much else of it. It was not until I was having mini-seizures at night when I was sleeping that I was brought to the hospital to get my first MRI. The hours that followed are a blur. All I remember was that that day was both the beginning and end of a new chapter in my life. Doctors found a malignant tumor the diameter of a baseball at the base of my brain, pressing on my brainstem. My condition required immediate surgery, so I agreed to go under the knife without fully understanding the severe effects that can be caused by brain surgery.
I am not fully aware of what occurred the months following that day. All I remember are tidbits of my stays in different hospitals. From stories that others tell me, my recovery did not go well after my first surgery. I was on bed rest the entire time and could not comprehend what others were saying. Even when I was not getting better, my family did not lose hope. A couple months later, doctors discovered a cyst growing in place of where they had removed the tumor. So I went under the knife again. My second surgery saved my life. I woke up at the UCLA Hospital aware and conscious of myself and my surroundings. I couldn’t move my arms or legs and could not sit up, but I was happy to be awake and still here. The very next day, physical and occupational therapist had me working. Learning to stand felt like trying to life 100 pounds off the chair. Learning to walk felt like running a marathon. I was on a liquid diet until I learned how to swallow again. It was like I was a baby again, learning everything from scratch. Rehabilitation was tough and strenuous, but because of the huge support from my family and friends, I never gave up.
After a year of fighting my brain tumor, I was finally able to return back to school in 2006 and continued the rest of my teenage years. I attended a university in 2007 and graduated in 2011. And I am getting married this May. My physical abilities are not the same as they were before my surgeries, but I am grateful every day to have my life. Stay positive and never give up!