Before September, 2014, Toral Patel was on the fast track: she had an MBA and was going for a CPA. Corporate life was in her future. But then she started noticing a sensitivity to light and found night driving difficult. An MRI, surgery and a pathology report revealed a very large stage 3 malignant oligodendroglioma brain tumor.
“In my culture, you grow up wanting to be a doctor or an engineer,” says Toral. “I never gave my creative side a chance.” But after undergoing a 10-hour surgery followed by six weeks of radiation and six months of chemotherapy, she changed her life and has not looked back.
She’s learning a new craft every month, expanding her volunteerism by being an American Brain Tumor Association mentor for someone else with a similar brain tumor, and has gone into her father’s tourism business in Florida, providing social media knowledge and the technological wisdom of a 35-year-old. While her father was on the verge of retirement, she is excited by the prospect of taking over one day. “I had been craving a purpose.”
Blessed with a bubbly, outgoing personality, she feels incredibly grateful and content. “The stars have aligned,” she says. Considered in the early stages of remission, she gets an MRI every six months. “Other than a large scar on my forehead and some permanent hair loss, I did not suffer any other injuries.”
As a part of the CommYOUnity Connect™ peer mentor program, she was paired with a woman in Philadelphia very near her own age with a similar medical diagnosis. She kept thinking to herself how helpful a friend like this would have been during her own treatment journey.
“Thank you ATBA for your support and being a forum where survivors, like myself, feel we can give back and hopefully inspire others.”
Her journey began with a visit to the optometrist to have her eyes checked and the discovery that both of her optic nerves were raised. She began experiencing a stinging sensation accompanied by painful headaches. After discovery of the tumor, in December she began the grueling radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
The diagnosis of a serious medical condition gave Toral the chance to tackle some of the crafts she had always wanted to try, providing something to keep her hands busy and her mind occupied. She found reading difficult due lack of focus and concentration. She tried making stationery, bullet journaling, knitting, and painting pottery and found those activities restorative.
While suffering from a very common fear of public speaking prior to diagnosis, afterwards she faced her fears head on and joined a local Toastmasters group. She loves to travel both in the United States and internationally and likes to folkdance and advocate for animal rights.
She is now a believer in the power of research and the critical need for donations. “The survival rate has drastically increased due to this research, allowing cancer survivors to live longer fuller lives,” says Toral.
“I believe cancer is the plague of our generation and that we will find a cure, or at least the proper treatment plans to combat this disease.”
In our 45 years, the most dramatic advances are being made now.
Let’s put our brains together to stop brain tumors once and for all. Your donation makes a difference.
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