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'My Facial Numbness Turned Out To Be A Brain Tumor'

At the time, in 2005, I was in my first year of college, studying elementary education at the University of Indianapolis. I had just moved into my first off-campus apartment. I had a 3 year old daughter and I was expecting my second child with my fiance (now husband). I was doing some teaching and preparation for a new baby. And until the visit of this doctor, it had been a relatively stress-free time in my life.


About two and a half months later, I fainted and was rushed to the emergency room. They did a CT scan to see if there was fluid on my spine, and when there was none, they suggested to follow up with a neurologist and to do an MRI just to be on the safe side.

I knew what it could be – I had been told that my previous symptoms were due to Bell's palsy, which is only supposed to affect the face, so that fainting did not really fit . I therefore followed the neurologist and I had this precautionary MRI. A few days later, she called me to ask if I could enter her office to discuss the results.

I told her that I had classes and that she had tried to convince her to talk to me on the phone, but she insisted. At that time, I did not think it could be so bad.

At our appointment, she told me that I had a meningioma – a tumor that emerges from the membranes around the brain and spinal cord – on the left side of my brain. It was the size of a golf ball.

She said that these types of tumors are not usually cancerous, but she does not know for sure until they have opened my brain and the brain is there. have removed. A million conflicting and overwhelming emotions hit me at once. I was scared for my baby, for me, for my family. But I knew that I had to be strong for them. I also felt intense anger, frustration and disappointment from the fact that I had been misdiagnosed. I could have, no, should have received treatment for this tumor the size of a golf ball two and a half months ago. Details on life after his diagnosis of brain tumor

Withdrawal of tumor

Due to the size of the tumor, surgery was the only option

The plan was to have my baby first and plan the operation after my recovery. When you are pregnant, you must be particularly careful to avoid complications. At this point, I had about a month left before my pregnancy. Before the tumor, I was going to have a vaginal birth – but the obstetrician recommended a cesarean section so that there was no chance of dislodging the tumor in any way or way. 39, another pushing into the delivery room. In addition to having a caesarean section, nothing else had ever been recommended to control the tumor at that time.

I had my daughter on July 5, 2005 and I was operated on Monday after Thanksgiving that same year.

The surgery took 12 hours. I do not remember who was there, but I know that my neurosurgeon had a team working with him. They had only to shave a small part of the head, about the size of my palm, just above my left ear.

In surgery, the doctor was able to remove 90% of the tumor – 10% was too close to my brain to be removed without risk of brain injury. The tumor finally turned out benign and I did not have to undergo chemo or radiotherapy afterwards.

However, it was important to remove as much of the tumor as possible because it was on a nerve in my body. brain that affected my balance, and he could have prevented much more brain function as he grew up.

Look Maria Menounos describe what it is to have a brain tumor:

A slow recovery, emotionally painful

After my surgery, I did not remember the name of my daughters. I kept calling them "the big" and "the little ones".

For months, brain fog continued. People said something like, "Well, it's about 50 meters from here," and I knew that the word "approximately" was somewhere in my memory, but I could not tell remember what that meant. It was as if someone had opened all the file cabinets in my head, pulled out all the files and threw them into the room. I had to search to find a given file.

It was an extremely difficult time, but I had a very good support system. I am an only child, so my mother intervened to help, and my husband helped take care of the children when I could not and made sure that things went well while I recovered.

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I will be honest, I do not remember much parenting during this time. There are many things I do not remember during those first few months. I do not remember often having my children around me, but I know that they have been cared for by people who love them. After about two months, I was able to take care of the children by myself. But I still needed a lot of support.

My neuropsychologist put me through a series of tests to examine my memory, my spatial awareness and my IQ. All of this is standard after brain surgery. They judged my IQ relatively high, said that my side effects were normal and said I would recover. It was not that I lost knowledge or that my personality changed, it was more difficult for me to recover knowledge and remember things. They did not recommend any physical or occupational therapy at that time, so I had to go through there. (It took me about a year for my brain function to return to normal.)

Crossing it was difficult. I had always been a very crafty student. The school had always been "my thing". The idea of ​​coming back scared me, but I was determined to finish my studies. I returned to university in January 2005 for my last year of license, two months after the operation. I had a lot of teachers who understood what was happening and who forgave me. I took classes and wrote down words I did not know, and then asked one of my friends or classmates to explain what each word meant.

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Tumor, Round 2

In 2008, while my brain was running at full speed, I went back to school to get a graduate degree in marriage and family therapy. I was graduated in December 2010 and I started practicing in January 2011. I had my third daughter in 2013.

Then, the tumor repels

At my first diagnosis, the doctor had mentioned that pregnancy hormones could slow down. Growing tumor to grow faster I can not tell you why, but I can tell you that it is extremely frustrating to ask someone to explain it to you in a "factual" way. I knew that there was a risk of pushing back with my third child, and some may say that having a third child was irresponsible, given my history of brain tumor. But I was determined to have it. And I did it.

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So, in 2016, when I started having headaches and more balance problems, I went to see my neurologist. a scintigraphy confirmed that my brain tumor was developing again.

This time, it was the size of an eyeball, not as big as before, but still bigger than anyone would want it to be. Because it was not as big, radiation therapy was an option, and I decided to take it. I've undergone a total of 28 radiotherapy treatments over the course of six weeks. The tumor did not shrink, but the radiation killed the cells so that they did not grow anymore.

From now on, I am in remission. But, to make sure things stay as they are, I have to have an annual MRI of my brain. Apart from these MRIs – and some persistent balance problems and headaches – life for me is no different from what I would imagine if I had never had it before. brain tumor. I have an amazing career, a supportive husband, and three girls who are beautiful both inside and out. I am incredibly lucky. And thanks to my brain tumor, I really understand how lucky I am.

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