Embracing Sadness with a Positive Spin

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December 9, 2016 - Lancaster, Pennsylvania

I try to find a positive way to begin this story every time I tell it, but given the subject, it can be difficult. I was diagnosed with an Astrocytoma Brain Tumor when I was 9 years old. It is located on the brain stem so it cannot be removed. From the fluid build up prior to diagnosis I became visually impaired, losing most of my peripheral vision and having almost no vision in my left eye. I have other medical issues that have played a part in my four brain surgeries at the time, but I am at a point in my life that I embrace the past, but don't like to dwell on it when I share my story. At 26 years old I had emergency surgery to have my shunt replaced. That was probably the scariest moment in my life so far. Going through it wasn't the hard part, I feel like I have pretty thick skin when it comes to pain and fighting through. The hard part was being almost 27 years old and having this major complication after so long of being in great shape. It really put life into perspective. This diagnosis that was, literally and figuratively, in the back of my mind for many years was suddenly brought back to light. It is a life long battle that constantly reminds you to follow the rules. Go to the doctor and get your annual MRI, if you have a headache that doesn't go away with medicine, don't ignore it. Good results don't mean that the appointment was pointless, but a moment to count your blessings.