My name is Frankie, a friend and colleague of Laurie's of many years. We worked together at Walmart pharmacy for 10 years and then both began careers at Cigna thereafter. We are in our 17th year there. Laurie has requested me to assist her with her Caring Bridge site. I will help post updates when she is not feeling up to doing so on her own.
Laurie was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2007 after suffering seizures in the overnight hours of her birthday, June 29. Laurie did not come to work that day and failed to call in. Because I had known her for so many years, I knew immediately that this uncharacteristic behavior meant trouble. After contacting her mother and sister, we found Laurie at her home, disoriented. We took her to the ER where a scan revealed a mass in the right frontal lobe of her brain. She was diagnosed with a Grade III Anaplastic Astrocytoma. What a ridiculously crappy birthday present! After enduring many rounds of targeted radiation therapy and the oral chemo Temodar, Laurie beat the odds and enjoyed a clean bill of health until a recent setback. Concerning symptoms gradually emerged, with the most significant occurring around the weekend of May 4, 2019. Laurie attended her monthly weekend Air Guard drill but felt fatigue, headache and left leg cramps. Thinking she was suffering from dehydration, she did her best to increase her fluid intake. The following morning, she slept through her alarm and was late for drill, the first time in the entirety of her 30+ year career.
Laurie's symptoms became more bothersome to her as the work week began. She felt very tired, foggy and experienced tremors in her left hand. Typing was difficult as she would lose control of her left hand, especially the left ring finger. She responded to an email I had sent. Parts of the email did not make sense, some letters in certain words were repeated several times. This struck me as very unusual as Laurie is typically very precise and conscientious with any and all of her work and communications. I emailed her back, asking her to clarify some of her remarks. But she never responded. I thought that her day must be terribly busy so I left her alone.
On the morning of May 10, Laurie's sister Lisa (aka Myra) called me with bad news. Laurie had suffered seizures again, in the middle of the night. The first was around midnight. She was conscious during the seizures, terrified with no control over her body and had difficulty breathing. The first seizure caused her to fall out of bed. When the seizure subsided, she crawled into the kitchen to retrieve her phone and called Lisa. Lisa called the ambulance and rushed to Laurie's house. Unfortunately, she forgot her house key so the first responders were forced to break the door down. During this time, Lisa had Laurie on the phone as she was suffering another seizure. Lisa could hear Laurie gasping but was helpless to assist until entry could be gained. Laurie was transported to Sanford ER where she suffered another seizure. This time, she was able to warn those around her that one was coming. Her left hand/arm began to shake uncontrollably. Then a grand mal, then lorazepam was administered to calm the seizure,
My heart sank as Lisa shared this news. Scans showed a mass in the same area of the brain as her prior cancer.
Laurie was put on Keppra to help prevent further seizures and dexamethasone to reduce the swelling and inflammation of the area of the brain where the large mass was. A hospitalist expressed surprise at the fact that Laurie was fully conscious and aware during each seizure. Very unusual.
Laurie stayed a few days in the hospital, then was discharged to rest at home until surgery to remove the mass. Dr. Gust, the neurosurgeon, resected all of the tumor and said he was fairly confident that the orange-sized mass was a benign meningioma that was induced by her past radiation treatments, He also took a bit of tissue from the old 2007 tumor site to test for cancer. Laurie is recovering from this surgery nicely in preparation for another cancer journey. The cells from the old tumor site are positive for Grade III Astrocytoma.