Life Change

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March 27, 2017 - Denver, Colorado

In the year 2000, I was diagnosed with a Colloid Cyst. I was having very bad headaches. I put off going to the doctor thinking the headaches would go away. In time the pain became so severe I decided to see a doctor. By the time it was discovered it was the size of a baseball. It was benign, but the doctor told me if I waited much longer the cyst would have killed me. I was lucky to say the least. I had surgery and the cyst was removed, but because of the position of the cyst it caused me to have severe short-term memory loss, and this went on for years, and it even shows up today although not as severe. I'd tell people I couldn't remember things, and they would just give me a simple answer of, "Well make a list." The problem was I couldn't remember to look at the list. People that haven't experienced a brain injury or brain surgery do not understand it really does change who you are. I'd be in a grocery store and wonder why I was there. It was frightening, so I would just leave and return home without what I went to the store for. I'd forget to go to an appointment, or meet someone, or call someone, or even take medication. I was 38. I am now 57, and I still suffer from the effects of the tumor and the surgery. It wasn't until my brother-in-law Steve Gaare was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma (and suffered many of the same side effects as I did at first) that my family saw what I had battled with. It helped them understand Steve. I think what came out of this for me is I was able to support my sister and her husband through this terrible journey of brain cancer. Unfortunately, my brother-in-law Steve died within 10 months of his diagnosis. I am thankful he and I were able to share our difficulties in the beginning of his bout with the disease. We had a lot in common and in time Steve's tumor became much more severe and we could no longer compare symptoms. I am thankful that I was able to help him at least a little. It's been almost 17 years since my surgery, and I have gone back to college and am working on my degree. It is difficult for me, but I am determined to continue on. I was offered special assistance with my learning disability, but I refused. I've learned how to live with the effects of the surgery that saved my life. I want to complete my degree with the brain I have, and be able to say, "I did it all on my own".