Life After Brain Tumor
“CaringBridge allowed us to see the true strength of our extended family. We would update Rebecca's progress hourly and receive numerous thoughts and prayers from her friends and family.” —The Glassing family
The discovery of a brain tumor changed Rebecca's life forever. Her family kept loved ones informed during critical times with hourly CaringBridge updates.
Rebecca Glassing was a typical young professional working in event planning who enjoyed spending time with her tight-knit family. When she started developing headaches, sleeping more and canceling plans to hang out with friends, she decided it was time to see her doctor.
On February 20, 2007 she went in for an MRI. That's when her neurologist discovered a meningioma brain tumor the size of a golf ball. Her life would never be the same.
Rebecca's tumor was affixed to her skull, as opposed to her brain. It was growing rapidly and pushing back into her brain, causing major pressure and extreme swelling, therefore causing major headaches.
Surviving Three Operations
On February 22 Rebecca had an operation to remove the tumor. It was scheduled to last six to eight hours. During routine post-op questions, Rebecca crashed. Her brain was swelling too much and she had to go back into surgery to have a piece of her skull removed. Unfortunately, the swelling continued and she had to undergo a third surgery to remove even more of her skull.
Despite the odds, she pulled through all three surgeries, but between the second and third, she had a double stroke, causing her to lose her eyesight.
The Glassing family created a CaringBridge site to update their extended family and friends on her condition. Someone at the hospital recommended CaringBridge to Rebecca's brother, Shane, who flew from Florida to Minnesota to be with her and did much of the early journal entries.
A Long Recovery
Rebecca dealt with extreme swelling of the brain after the surgeries and was watched closely in intensive care. In the days and weeks following her surgeries, Shane regularly posted updates to the journal letting everyone know how well she was recovering.
Rebecca and her family were in for a long haul, spending the next two months in the hospital. Her family read each and every guestbook entry to her, even while she was in an induced coma.
"CaringBridge allowed us to see the true strength of our extended family," said the Glassing family. "We would update Rebecca's progress hourly and receive numerous thoughts and prayers from her friends and family. We would then take the information they posted and read them to her. We know this assisted in Rebecca's miraculous recovery and helped ease her pain."
"CaringBridge also offered family and friends a way to process their emotions and feel as though they were right there with Rebecca while she was recovering," said the Glassing family.
Along with losing her eyesight, Rebecca experienced memory loss and needed therapy to strengthen her arm and leg on the right side of her body. "I had to be re-taught everything. How to walk, brush my teeth, wash my hair, put on clothes," said Rebecca. "And both my short- and long-term memory were affected. I didn't remember that my brother was engaged, I didn't even remember that he lived in Florida."
She spent time in a rehab facility, learning how to adapt to the new life she had ahead of her. "I found out who I am as a person - the strength that I really do have," said Rebecca.
Experiencing it Again, for the First Time
Rebecca recalls very little of her time spent recovering in the hospital. She recently started reading her CaringBridge journal, learning about the experience for the first time. She's amazed at the number of people who visited the site to hear about her progress and leave notes of encouragement. She's also started writing updates herself in the journal using adaptive computer technology for the visually impaired.
While Rebecca has made great strides, she's also encountered some setbacks. In 2010 her tumor came back and was treated. Since meningioma tumors can be recurrent, Rebecca's doctors will continue to monitor her with yearly MRIs. Seeing the never-ending support from family and friends through her CaringBridge site helps her keep a positive attitude and continue to thrive in her new life.