In the fall of 2009, I began to experience some psychological issues. I had some anxiety and weird thoughts. My friends joked that “weird thoughts” were normal for me, but they weren’t and I had never experienced anxiety. I made an appointment to see my doctor.
Eventually, I was referred to a psych team who ordered an MRI of my brain. They found a grade three astrocytoma tumor on the motor strip of my brain. I was told it was inoperable and that I had a “few” years to live. It was a devastating diagnosis. The impact the news had on my family and friends was equally devastating.
I decided it was time to take action. I needed to take some control, advocate for my life and be strong for my family and friends. I went to meet a neurosurgical oncologist for a second opinion. He performed a functional MRI on me and discovered I had a unique mapping of the brain, making surgery an option. He told me he could remove most of the tumor but most likely not all of it. On November 24, 2009 after being told my life could be on hold, the doctor removed 80% of my tumor without paralysis. Any more removal would have paralyzed my left arm.
Currently, I do not have all my feeling in my left arm but it is getting better each day. The psychological issues I was experiencing are gone. The 80% removed is considered benign. My medical team is conducting chromosomal tests to see if the remaining 20% would respond best to chemotherapy or radiation should something change in the future. The remaining 20% could also shift into a cavity that might allow it to be remove at later date.
My story is a miracle considering I found the right doctor and I have a unique brain mapping. I feel very blessed and lucky to have a new lease on life. The bottom line is I advocated for a second opinion, found one of two doctors in the country who could perform surgery without paralysis, and now I am ready to give back. If I did not advocate for a second opinion and conduct my own research, I would be receiving chemotherapy and radiation based on initial results. My outcome could have been very different.
I am 35 years-old and now am well aware that our age group (15 to 40) is suffering. Too many are diagnosed with late stage cancers and that means too many lose their battles. We need to be aware and advocate for ourselves.
- weird thoughts