An Unexpected Outcome from a Double Brain Tumor Diagnosis
Every brain tumor survivor wishes they could rewrite history and avoid the long, often wrought path of a brain tumor diagnosis—from surgery to treatment to coping with the day-to-day realities.Fred feels the same. If he could relive his life, he’d certainly do without his two brain tumors. But the only difference is that he would keep all of his life lessons. “I’m a better person today, than when I was first diagnosed with a brain tumor,” Fred confided. “And I’ve done more in my 28 years than I’ve ever dreamed.” At 27 years old, Fred should have been focusing on his career, being in a relationship and helping his mom with Thanksgiving, but flu-like symptoms struck, and after four months and two hospitals stays, he was diagnosed with astrocytoma of the medulla—a brain tumor wrapped intricately around his brain stem. To save his life, his neurosurgeon had to strike a delicate balance of how to safely remove as much of the tumor as possible from Fred’s brain stem. A nanometer too far in one direction could impact his sight or hearing; a micromillimeter too deep could affect his ability to walk, talk or eat. Luckily, the surgery was successful. Although he copes with ongoing side effects like double vision, adult strabismus (misalignment of the eyes), sharp headaches, facial paralysis, tongue swelling, a second tumor (tinnitus), hearing loss and bone erosion in the ear canal, life is good for Fred today. He counts his superpower as having a better understanding about life and death.
“I’ve become more aware of petty issues that just don’t matter in the long run,” said Fred. “I don’t sweat the small stuff like traffic. I may not like sitting in traffic, but there’s no reason to get upset as I used to before my brain tumor journey.”
When he was first diagnosed with a brain tumor, he never thought he could live out the dreams he had growing up. And yet, he now has a successful property management career and travels the world. In fact, he has traveled the world many times over, including Australia, Canary Islands, Costa Rica, Dubai, Mexico and at least five trips to France.
But Fred doesn’t take for granted the dreams that have become a reality. In fact when he was diagnosed with a second brain tumor nearly 11 years ago, he continued to turn to the American Brain Tumor Association for information, resources and a connection to his local support group.
“I know that over the course of time I would not be as well if it was not for the ABTA,” said Fred. “I have learned so much about this journey in life with a brain tumor from the ABTA. We need to support research, and we need to support the people that are affected by a brain tumor diagnosis. And, the ABTA does both.”