I was diagnosed with two brain tumors 8 years ago, at the age of 26. I was a wife to a loving husband, and a mother to a nine month old baby girl, when I who am normally a very active person started getting these headaches, where I couldn’t even lift my head from the pillow on some days.
My husband finally insisted that I go get this checked out. It was quite the shock when the doctor who ran my CT Scan found two tumors on my scan. Luckily my mother in law works in the Neuro ICU at Brigham and Women’s hospital, and helped to get me an appointment rather quickly.
In what was a whirlwind few weeks of appointments, it was decided that I would be a candidate for surgery to remove the first tumor. It was decided that if it turned out to be cancer, we would schedule a second surgery, once I had recovered from the first. Lone behold a week after the pathology was back (felt like more of an eternity), it was in fact a grade two oligodendroglioma.
We scheduled the second surgery to take place a month after the first. Because the second tumor was on my speech center and more complex than the first tumor (it had spidered, where the first was encapsulated), I had to be awake for this surgery.
For each surgery I was in the hospital for less than 24 hours, anxious to get back to my family. The first two surgeries bought me five years, and a baby boy after I got my doctor’s okay!
I would go for MRI’s every few months, before the more complex of the tumors grew back. We opted for another surgery at this point, there was a new technology, where an MRI could be administered within the operating room, they were confident that with this technology, they would be sure to get the most of the tumor. I found out that my tumor was back the day before Thanksgiving and waited until January 28th to have this surgery, because that was the first that this machine would be available. After all of this time waiting we were of course very anxious. Going into the surgery I was kept waiting even longer….the machine broke on the morning of my procedure! They went on with the surgery nonetheless, just without the MRI. They were hoping that considering the first surgery bought me five years, that this one would buy me at least that.
Unfortunately, a year and a half later at a routine MRI, it was found that the tumor was growing again, there was another new treatment method that had come about in that year and a half, that didn’t previously exist. They decided that I would go through 7 weeks of radiation and 6 months of oral chemotherapy. It was not easy, but I fought through. The tumor didn’t shrink as quickly as they would have hoped, so the 6 months of chemo turned into 14 months. I’ve never let my diagnosis slow me down, participating in two triathlon’s and countless 5k’s, some even while in treatment! I am so lucky to have been surrounded by some of the best family and friends that a person could ask for to get me through all of these ups and downs. As of my last scan this past week, there is no tumor to be seen, just healthy brain, with some scar tissue. I am so grateful.
This will be my third time participating with my team in the Boston Brain Tumor Ride. There has been so many advances, and innovations in the past 8 years that I’ve been battling this disease, I truly believe that a cure will be found.