I had a little cranial scare over Easter 2018. This is my story and I invite you to read along as I work to recover from surgery and get down to tackling what I now face - Brain Cancer. Yep, I have brain cancer. I figure that I should get that out there right away so you can all process it because it is just a little overwhelming and I fully appreciate that. You probably should say it out loud too. It actually kind of helps. It is totally surreal and I get that you will have tons of questions that I am happy to answer because I'm a little curious about how this all happened myself. But, first things first - here is what we know:
1. I have what is called Oligodendroglioma with anaplastic features - WHO grade III (oligo-dendro-glioma if you need it phonetically like I do) 2. That is a mouthful so after a family conference, we decided to name it "Jimmy". It is too tough for Ben to pronounce the full name so he thought Jimmy fit well. To any Jimmy in my life, no disrespect at all!! 3. Most importantly, Jimmy is not welcome at this time (or ever really), so we are going to work on killing Jimmy. 4. We are going to use CaringBridge to communicate. Read it if you want but know that it may be a wild ride as this is new to us.
The lead up - In 2015 I saw a neurologist because I had my first migraine, or so I thought. There was no vision or aura or any of that but it laid me out and I attributed it to menopause, did not do a scan and got on estrogen. I may have had one or two more short spells over the years, but was feeling good. At the end of February of this year I got another headache so I was doing what many migraine sufferers do and was laying low, taking OTC meds and "putting a rag on it" which is something my mom would have told me to do. Long story short, this one didn't go away. It wasn't present all the time but it would flare in the front left part of my head and throb to the point where I would have to stop and collect myself. It was starting to impact our family and I was getting annoyed so, at the urging of my sister, I did go back to see a neurologist on Friday, March 30. We got on the books for an MRI for Saturday, April 7 and I got myself a prescription for some migraine meds. All was well in the world...until it wasn't. We celebrated Easter in Mankato on March 31 at my dad's house with family. There was a good crew there and we were excited to all be together. At some point, I was in the kitchen and started to slump down. Ben (my son, age 11), Paul (my husband), and Gator (our dog) were in the basement so, fortunately at least Ben did not have to see any of this happen. My sister grabbed me and got me a chair, my cousin grabbed the phone and became the dispatch extraordinaire, and the wild ride started. I did not lose consciousness, did not hit my head, and did not have a seizure - all of which are great things.
I got a CT scan in Mankato, they found a mass, I took an ambulance to the U of M, had surgery on Monday, April 2, the mass was drained and part of the tumor was removed but not all of it because there were blood vessels feeding into it and the surgeon did not want to risk paralysis or a stroke, for which I am exceptionally grateful for. I was released on Wednesday, April 4 and am recovering from surgery phenomenally. Something to note is that the head doesn't have pain receptors so I am in zero pain and that is why I came home so quickly, with my wits about me and now I am starting to go just a little bit stir crazy. Again, another really good thing.
We see the first oncologist next week and away we go.