I was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor in 2003 at 31 years old. I still remember that day the doctor told me. I thought it was an instant death sentence - I had not really heard of anyone having one before. I was completely terrified. It was like a movie and I was looking down at someone else being told this horrifying news, and not me.
I would get migraines every month and they would last for up to 3 days. I never thought anything of it because a lot of women get migraines. One day, I starting getting sick, and couldn't stop. We went to the ER and they had told me that I had a kidney infection and I could go home. Luckily, my friend was there and told the doctor to give me a cat scan. They found something, but an MRI was needed to be sure. We went to get an MRI and that is when they found it.
I was immediately scheduled for brain surgery. When I woke up from surgery, I found out they were only able to get 80% of the tumor for fear of getting into areas, such as speech and mobility. To my surprise, my husband walked into my room, shaved head and all! Actually, they didn't even shave my whole head - only a section where the tumor was. A biopsy of the tumor revealed it was cancer-an Anaplastic Astrocytoma. I was devastated. All I could think about was that my 5 year old son would grow up without me, and my husband who loves me dearly would lose his wife.
Since I was so young, they wanted to go heavy on my treatments (chemo & radiation at the same time) to try to aggressively attack it. When I did finally lose my hair, it wasn't the fact that it was gone. It was the first time I realized this was real, it was actually happening, and this could actually kill me. I thought about all the things that I had put off before, because I thought I would always have time for it later.
Everyone was so impressed with how strong I was and kept asking me, "How can you deal with this?" The answer is- you just do. You don't have a choice but to.
A very surprising thing happened during my chemo treatments. I got pregnant. I was also on the pill, so it was a shock to everyone. The scary thing was that there was no reference to anyone being pregnant on that type of chemo. Not only did I have treatments, but I was taking anti-seizure medicine & shots to raise my red and white blood counts.
My daughter was born a month early and very healthy and beautiful. We named her Miracle Jo. Then, as if all this wasn't enough to deal with, 4 months later, my father died. He was the most amazing man, and was one of the most important people in my life. I'm just glad he was around to see the birth of my daughter.
So far, the tumor has remained stable. I thank God everyday for that.
It is hard for me to do some things. I get tired from the medication I have to take, and I have minor memory problems. Now, I just try to approach the way I used to do things differently. I have to write things down, eat better, and to have as little stress in my life as possible.
I volunteered to help out with a 5K fun run to help raise money for brain tumor research in the Sacramento area and hope to do much more in the future. I really want to make people more aware of this disease, as it isn't talked about very much. I would like people to get a cat scan if they have migraines often, just to be safe. I never thought in a million years this would happen to me.