I Am Stronger Now…

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." - Dr. Seuss

I host profiles of brain tumor survivor’s every Thursday on my blog.  It is my pleasure to introduce you to Stephanie – a brain tumor survivor, who had brain surgery two years ago to remove a baseball size tumor.  She not only is an inspiration to the brain tumor community, she is an inspiration to us all.  Thank you Stephanie for sharing your story.  If you are new to this blog, read this post to find out about how #Brain Tumor Thursday got started on my blog.   You can read last week’s profile here, about a brave man named Tom McLain, who is also an inspiration.  If you are interested in participating, you will find information at the end of the post.

This is Stephanie’s story in her own words.

“I am stronger now than I was before my diagnosis.” – Stephanie

I hope…

I hope to achieve my dreams and not take life for granted. I also hope that in my lifetime I will see researchers find a cure for brain cancer and brain tumors.

I wish…

I wish love, happiness and patience to all of those suffering with this disease and the caregivers, family and friends who help them out. I know I could have never gotten through this without the support of my father and my aunt. Plus all of the love and support of my friends who I work with, friends from school, and friends online.

"You never know what you mean to people until they band together to send prayers, good wishes and good thoughts to you during your recovery." - Stephanie

You never know what you mean to people until they band together to send prayers, good wishes and good thoughts to you during your recovery. I never took them for granted per se, but two years later, I know what I mean to them and give it back freely. They even set up a facebook group for me: https://www.facebook.com/groups/105485876149115/

I dream…

I dream about living life to the fullest no matter what. I was like most people going through the daily motions of life and then BAM! It hits you right in the face. I thank God every day for being here and I think I still have so much left to do — maybe it’s bringing brain tumor awareness to everyone I know and am going to meet so we can end this horrible disease.

I am (be)…

I am stronger now than I was before my diagnosis.

"I am stronger than I was before my diagnosis." - Stephanie

Artwork by Jennifer Pick.  Click on this link to go directly to the artist’s website.

In the middle of all of this, I was getting my Associates Degrees in Network Administration and Cisco Telecommunications. I had to drop the spring semester and I was only two semesters away from graduating. My Cisco teacher allowed me to make up the class I dropped in the spring so that I could stay with my section for the fall class. She was trying to show me that she believed in me and that I could do it. I rose to the occasion and showed her how determined I was to get back to my so-called normal life. I got a B in both sections.

Diagnosis and Treatment…

My brain tumor diagnosis was a menigioma. For those of you who know about these tumors — they are usually small in size and are benign. Mine was the size of a baseball, required nine hours of surgery to remove it, and is a Grade II Tumor defined by WHO (World Health Organization). My neurosurgeon said it was benign in nature, but malignant because of the sheer size. He put it bluntly to me one day while he sat in my hospital room, “You shouldn’t be sitting here today, by all accounts you should be dead.” I now have a titanium plate in my head covering half of my forehead all the way back to the top middle of my head. I also had radiation that made all of my hair on the top and sides of my head fall out. It was one thing to know it could happen and another thing to be standing in the shower pulling clumps out while washing my hair. I now have to take seizure medicine twice a day and my brain is still swollen.

Favorite quote…

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” ~ Dr. Seuss

(I’d never heard it before and @uvmer tweeted it the first time when I joined #braintumorthursday. I just loved it.)

Three things I’d like to share…

1. Don’t think “It can’t happen to me,” because it can. I’m the perfect example of that.
2. Just because people have a benign brain tumor — they are not lucky. It’s still a tumor in your head and it messes with your brain function. (No offense to those who have malignant tumors. I always say there are people worse off than I am.)
3. I just celebrated my two-year anniversary of my brain surgery on St. Patrick’s Day 2012. So far there is no sign of the tumor or sign of regrowth either.

Photo by (c) Megan Oteri - All Rights Reserved
Remember, a rainbow is brightest after a big storm. - memomuse

If you are a brain tumor patient, survivor, or care giver and would like to share your story, please contact me at memomuse@gmail.com.  If you read this post, you will find the template for the profile feature, as well as, the connection I have to brain tumors.

You can also find me on Twitter, especially on #braintumorthursday.  Leave me a message here in the comments  at my blog.  If you are on Twitter, be sure to put in the hash tag, “#braintumorthursday” to find support, information, and a whole community of amazing people doing their part to raise awareness and offer each other kindness and support.  You can also put in the hash tag “#BTSM” which means “brain tumor social media.”  You don’t have to have a Twitter account to get the information.  Just go to http://www.twitter.com and put in the two hash tags (#braintumorthursday and #btsm) to see the links to many websites.  You can also use a search engine, such as Goggle, to do this.

Here are several links to organizations, with a lot of other links and information about brain tumors.

Please feel free to add your link in a comment if it has to do with brain tumor support and information.  If you wish to get in  touch with Stephanie, you can reach her by leaving a comment on this blog and I will make sure she gets your message.  You can also email me at memomuse@gmail.com and I will forward the message to her.  Stephanie will be reading the comments here on this post, so give her some love.

Thank you for tuning in today and supporting #braintumorthursday.  We look forward to seeing you here at http://www.memomuse.wordpress.com every Thursday for #Brain Tumor Thursday and on Twitter every Thursday.  Thank you for your time.  BT Buddies has expressed that they would like to repost these profiles on their website too.  More information on that coming soon.  Tune in next Thursday.

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.

~ memomuse

#Brain Tumor Thursday

So I have volunteered to write about brain tumor patients and survivors to raise awareness.  There is an ongoing awareness campaign over on Twitter called “Brain Tumor Thursday.”  It happens every Thursday on Twitter.  Just put in the hash tag #braintumorthursday.  There is great information, support, stories, and articles being shared from this link about cell phones and cancer to an inspirational story about a woman’s awesome fight against a brain tumor.  There are many great organizations and individuals reaching out to help individuals and families dealing with the effects of a brain tumor.  Check it out on Twitter.

My mom made it to the next spring. I am thankful for that. My thoughts and prayers go out to all people dealing with brain tumors.                          Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.

As most of you know, my mother has had non-cancerous brain tumors since 2000.  She was diagnosed by a doctor after a series of tests at the emergency room. She has two brain tumors: one on her brain stem and the other in her cerebellum.  This always confuses me — is it in her cerebellum or on it?  She had emergency brain surgery in 2000 to drain the fluid in her brain.  The surgeons put a shunt in her brain to drain the fluid.  She had radiation treatment in 2004.  My mom is alive and able to talk to me on the phone.  When I hear her voice, it makes me happy.

My magic mama

She is my magic mama.   The link (Magic Mama) is an essay  I wrote to celebrate her beauty and dedication as a mother.

I have always been grossed out by medical procedures and I can’t even look at a scan of the brain on Grey’s Anatomy without losing my lunch.  So I have stayed out of the medical part of my mom’s illness.  I realize that I am biting off more than I can chew by offering to write creative nonfiction pieces about brain tumor survivors and patients, as I barely have time to shower most days.  But this is for a good cause.  I believe people should know that having a brain tumor doesn’t mean the end of life.

Photo © Megan Oteri – All Rights Reserved Dogwoods are in blossom this time of year in North Carolina. I absolutely love this flowering tree. Find out everything you want to know about the Dogwood at this link: http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/flowering_dogwood.htm

For most patients, they want to see another spring and watch in awe at the beauty of nature, as she unveils her white silky buds of the Dogwood, or the yellow cupcaked beauty of the daffodil.

Daffodils – the great march into spring Photo © Megan Oteri – All Right Reserved

Brain tumor patients want to see the next spring and the next, just like any other person.

So, I launch Brain Tumor Thursday on my blog.  I will try my best to post a feature story or mini muse interview with a brain tumor patient every Thursday.  I will make a heading at the top of the page so they are easy to find.  That is one thing I am working on with my writing is organizational skills having to do with technology.

So here is how it will work.  If you know someone with a brain tumor, please have them email me at memomuse@gmail.com.  I will ask them to email me a photo of themselves doing something they enjoy or a favorite photo of theirs.  Whatever they want to share.  Then I will ask them to fill out this short questionnaire.

Art Credit: http://artbyjolie.com/stories/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/2.jpg

Fill in the blank:

I hope…

I wish…

I dream about…

I am (be)…

It follows my mini muse interview formula and my motto (Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.)

* Optional

* Brain tumor diagnoses and treatment…

* Favorite quote…

* Three things you’d like to share…

I will do my best to get my mom to fill in the blanks over the phone and she can be the first one to do the mini muse interview.  But feel free to email me right away if you want to participate.  There are some amazing organizations promoting awareness and offering support and information.  Here is a list of the ones I know about.  Please feel free to add them to the comments.  I will work on adding the links to the sidebar.