My first brain surgery was in 1988. I had been diagnosed with a meningioma, a benign brain tumor, in my occipital lobe. Because it’s also located on one of the main veins in my brain, the surgeon could only remove part of it. I have continued to live with the rest of the tumor – what I call my “thorn” – for more than two decades.
When the doctor uttered the words, “brain tumor,” at the time of my diagnosis, my greatest worry wasn’t for myself. It was for my mother, who’d accompanied me and heard those words spoken about her 32-year-old child. Although I was the patient, I understood how it must have pierced her heart. I was the mother of three small children myself, and I would have been devastated to hear such a diagnosis about any of them.
My ongoing meningioma treatment
Since that time, my benign brain tumor has continued to reoccur. My brain surgeries have included four craniotomies, one Gamma Knife® procedure and, most recently, minimally invasive thermal ablations. In 2011, I came to MD Anderson, where my care is now led by neurosurgeon Sujit Prabhu, M.D. I currently visit the Brain and Spine Center every three months to undergo an MRI and monitor the tumor’s growth.
The treatment I have received under Dr. Prabhu’s care has been absolutely phenomenal. My family and I trust Dr. Prabhu with my care, and I always look forward to the warm and caring visits with him and his team. We have the best patient/doctor rapport one could possibly hope for.
During recovery from each of my brain surgeries, it has become my tradition to sing to my surgeon to show my gratitude. I always sing “Wind Beneath My Wings” because my surgeons have truly been my heroes!
Giving thanks for surviving meningioma
I have survived many battles in every facet of my life. Soon after my diagnosis and first brain surgery, I became a single parent. Ten years later, my middle child was killed in an auto accident at age 17. That was devastating, but my faith, family, friends, neighbors and co-workers helped me through what seemed like the impossible, just as they did throughout each of my brain tumor recurrences.
I was working for the State of Texas when I received my first meningioma diagnosis, and I underwent five brain surgeries over the course of my 25-year career with the state. I had surgery, recovered, then returned to work each time. My goal was to retire from the State of Texas.
My tumor is in the part of my brain that processes visual information. After my fifth brain surgery, I developed vision impairments and began experiencing massive headaches. I was a regional manager with the Texas Department of Public Safety at the time and close to qualifying for retirement. In 2012, I accomplished my goal and retired from the State of Texas.
Although I have lived with a benign brain tumor that brings debilitating headaches for many years, I try to keep a positive attitude. I accept it as my thorn and mostly sport a smile. I am eager to share my story, and I volunteer at my local hospital to speak with other brain tumor patients.
It is my quest to keep caring for my health, mind and spirit while traveling through these ups and downs with my thorn. After 27 years, I’m still here, so I continue to give thanks in all things.