The year 2005 had to be the best and worst year of my life. In January 2005, my husband and I purchased our first home and in March 2005, I gave birth to our first child Lucy Ann. Life was going as planned until September 7th, 2005 when I was told to go to the Emergency Room for a CAT scan of my head. This was the turning point for what started out as a phenomenal year. On September 7th, I was diagnosed with a large brain tumor. At 29 years old this is the last thing I expected to hear, but was ready to fight for my life! After my diagnosis the following occurred:
September 8, 2005-I was rushed down to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in NYC for treatment. I was put in for a minor surgery where they embolized the brain tumor and cut off 60% of the blood supply being fed to the area.
September 9, 2005-I went in for a 10-hour craniotomy where the neurosurgeon was able to successfully remove 99.9% of the mass. Despite the embolization the night prior I did lose 4 liters of blood during surgery and was very close to not making it through the procedure. I required blood transfusions while on the operating table to help stabilize my body. Since I was young and in good health I made it through surgery successfully. After I came out of anesthesia, I was alert and in the PACU. I continued to be monitored and receive blood transfusions to replenish what I had lost during surgery. Subsequently my body had a negative reaction to the amount of blood I was receiving post-operatively and I went into Flash Pulmonary Edema. My heart began to fail and my lungs collapsed and began to fill with fluid. This was the first time I was scared, but knew that I had a baby I needed to get home to. I was stabilized and sent to the neuro critical care unit after the incident.
September 12, 2005-I went home to my 5 month old baby. This was the best day of my life and the first time I cried during this entire ordeal.
September 20, 2005-I went back for a follow-up appointment to Columbia with my neurosurgeon who removed the staples from my head and was prepared to speak with us about the pathology of the tumor. The doctor said â€œWe consider this tumor aggressive and we are recommending radiation to prevent a local reoccurrence.â€ The doctor went on to explain that I had a right middle cranial tumor, which had multiple branches. It invaded my right orbital area and eroded my right skull base. The tumor was 6X4 CM. The tumor was considered a WHO grade II hemangiopericytoma, which is a very rare malignant brain tumor.
October 10, 2005-I came back to work part time.
October 24, 2005-Decemeber 2, 2005-I went through radiation treatment at Albany Medical Center.
January 23, 2006-I came back to work full time as a changed woman, not just a young professional, a mom, a sister or a wife, but a cancer survivor.
Each day is a true gift to me. I am eternally grateful for the excellent care I received, the support and flexibility I was afforded from my employer, the out pouring of love that I was given by my friends and family, but most of all I am proud of the strength and determination I found within myself to live. Cancer pushed its way into my life and I was able to push it out and reclaim my life back.
I just was told this Nov 07 that I have two new lesions. One in the bone of my skull (7mm) and one in my lower left lung (4mm). Since these areas are so small they are goign to rescan me after x-mas and make a decision in terms of surgeries. Since this cancer likes to spread to the lungs, liver and bones these new areas will most likely need to be removed. I will keep you informed as things progress with this.