Welcome to our CaringBridge website for Cheryl. We are using this site to keep family and friends updated in one place as it is sometimes challenging and a little overwhelming to respond to everyone’s texts or calls as much as we love you all. We appreciate your support, prayers, and words of hope and encouragement more than we can express.
As many of you know my mom Cheryl was taken to the ER at Hoag Hospital on the afternoon of March 8th due to sudden erratic changes in her speech first noticed by her sister on a phone call. She was rushed to the ER by her son in law Chris, who thought she had or was having a stroke. After several hours of waiting and an MRI we received the completely unexpected and shocking news that a brain tumor was found in her left temporal lobe.
The next day we met her wonderful, highly regarded neurosurgeon, Dr. Mehta who informed us that we would have an upper body CT scan to confirm no other tumors were present, and that they would need to remove the tumor in her brain immediately the next morning on March 10th. While my mom was still not really processing things and having trouble with speech due to the swelling and pressure in her brain, our family could sense the urgency from this initial meeting with the neurosurgeon. She was admitted and moved up to another floor of the hospital to await surgery. She was put on medications to keep the swelling down in her brain around the tumor and to prevent any seizures. My brother Charles immediately booked a flight from Minnesota to arrive in Orange County late that same day so he could be there before the surgery. My moms sister Linda also came to the hospital right away as well as my sister. It was a crazy whirlwind going from seeing my mom completely normal and seemingly very healthy just a few days prior while picking up my daughter, to being told she needed immediate surgery to remove a brain tumor. My mom wasn’t really fully processing everything yet, she understood she needed to have the surgery but not that it was an actual tumor, just “a white thing” that needed to come out. We also found out that the CT scan came back negative for any other tumors in her upper body, which meant it was most likely a primary brain tumor (not a tumor spread from cancer elsewhere in the body) but nothing could be confirmed until the tumor was out and sent for pathology.
The surgery itself went very well thank God, and the golf ball sized tumor was removed completely (or at least what they were able to see if it). We were very relieved and so grateful that this seemed to be very good news. She spent the next day and night in ICU where she was monitored and seemed to recover quickly, being able to talk and move all of her limbs and body after several hours. Again, we were estatic and so glad everything seemed to be going so well after such a huge surgery. The neurosurgeon came to visit my mom and us in the ICU the next morning and told us that they had to wait for the pathology results to come back later that week but that he thought it was a primary glial brain tumor. Needless to say googling "glial brain tumors" later by myself was pretty terrifying and so we decided to wait for the Dr to confirm the results and hear and hope for the best and not mention anything at this point to concern my mom. My mom just kept asking for then to please move her out of the ICU and back to her big room upstairs with the beautiful ocean view.
They sent an oncologist to speak to us the day after surgery and from that meeting we found out that although they were still waiting on the complete pathology results, the preliminary results showed that this was most likely a glioblastoma multiform, which is a rare and very aggressive brain tumor and that she would most likely need both radiation and chemo. In the world of brain tumors, the glioblastoma is pretty much the scariest one out there. It grows extremely rapidly and even with treatment is hard to treat because of the way the cancer cells can spread and travel throughout the brain. Hearing this news was hands down one of the hardest days of my life, but we all were still determined to wait for the final pathology and either way we would fight and beat this whatever it was.
My mom recovered from surgery very quickly and was so happy to be home. We met with the her new oncologist 2 days after she got home and he confirmed the initial diagnosis of Glioblastoma or (GBM4) and went over the plan for treatment: 3-4 weeks of radiation along with chemo which was thankfully in a pill form taken at home. That next week was filed with more Dr appointments with the radiation oncologist, the neurosurgeon and the oncologist. It was overwhelming to say the least but we were relieved to have a treatment plan and could focus on next steps.
My mom was still having a hard time believing and understanding this was actually cancer, a brain tumor and something so serious and scary, which is understandable. I think the shock of it all along with still recovering from the brain surgery itself makes it very challenging. Her oncologist, Dr Carillo, is a wonderful doctor it seems so far and is a neuro-oncologist which we were told is a pretty rare specialist. Also Hoag Hospital, where she will be treated,is a top rated hospital in neurology and brain cancer and happens to be a 10 minute drive down the coast from my moms house! This is a huge blessing in itself! I will be updating on her treatment progress over the coming weeks here. She will be doing daily radiation M-F for the next 3 weeks along with Chemo and we are determined to beat this! My mom is a strong, amazing woman and if anyone can beat this she can!!
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts all for your support and encouragement for my mom during this time. Please pray for strength and healing for my mom through this treatment ❤️