It was February 2013 when our oldest daughter Samantha was diagnosed with a Schwannoma brain tumor. The mass started in her auditory canal in the right ear and grew to the base of her neck. The original measurement of the tumor was 5.3cm. The neurosurgeon compared it to the size of an orange.
The tumor was so big it started pushing her brain stem to the side. What should be straight up and down, the brain stem was curved like a football. That caused a lot of problems with mobility, speech, and swallowing. The doctors said this was a slow going tumor, so she had to have this for a long time.
In March 2013, Samantha had her first tumor surgery. The shell of the tumor was in a bad area so they gutted the inside of the shell. They removed about 65% of the inside of the tumor. Their thought was that the tumor would collapse on itself. Not the case at all. Two weeks later Samantha went to rehab. She wasn't there a week and started to have problems. Samantha had hydrocephalus and had to have a permanent shunt put in. We thought things would be good after that, but not yet.
The day before Samantha's 21st birthday she ended up back in the hospital, after only being in rehab for about a week or so. The next 12 weeks were very difficult. It consisted of 3 brain tumor surgeries, a tracheotomy, and a feeding tube. Instead of the shell collapsing on itself, a cyst would grow inside the shell causing it to push on the brain stem. During Samantha's last surgery they were able to remove most of the shell and cauterized what was left. The doctor said the tumor was a lot larger that what they originally said. It was over 7 cm and the size of a grapefruit. The doctors were not able to remove the tumor in her ear so they would later have to do radiation to get rid of it.
In August she was able to go home from rehab. It is now December and she is doing great. She is doing physical therapy. Her goal was to be walking with a walker by Christmas and she reached that goal in September. Her goal was to be walking with a walking Cane or stick by February and she is doing that now. She has some facial damage though. Samantha is in the middle of radiation. She should be done with that in January. The neurosurgeons are amazed at her progress. The nurses call her their miracle patient. We are extremely blessed every day that Samantha is still with us.