How did you know you had a brain tumor? What is signs of a brain tumor?

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You know you had a brain tumor, for most types of tumors, taking a sample of the possible tumor is the only sure way for the doctor to know if an area of the body has a tumor. This may be done in a procedure called a biopsy or by removing part or all of the tumor with surgery. 

When I was three years old one of my younger sisters was born, causing our family to have to move, thus causing us to switch family physicians. This doctor was pretty new at practicing medicine. As per usual, I went for my annual checkup with this new doctor.

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Let me just say that the previous doctor I went to was not the best. He never saw anything wrong with me, no symptoms of anything, although my mom had a feeling in the back of her mind that something was wrong because when I was two years old my intelligence was rapidly increasing. For example, I could sing my whole ABCs, name all the colors, shapes, and count to 10 in English, as well as Spanish, at the ripe old age of two. I’m pretty sure that’s not very normal, but I could be wrong.

She also said that I would constantly line things up perfectly. For example, I would move all the dining room chairs into a perfect line, but she just thought it was some sort of OCD and nothing bad. Oh boy.

Back on topic to my checkup with the new doc. Everything was running smoothly until he checked my eyes with his light. If I recall correctly, (this was over 14-ish years ago) my right pupil was not dilating at all. Next, he made me walk down the hallway and noticed I had a very slight limp. There were other signs he noticed but I’ve forgotten exactly what they were.

Since he was kinda new, he brought in the older doc to take a look. After the examination they looked at each other. My mom was also in the room and getting very worried. They knew something was wrong with me. I was scheduled for an MRI a few days later.

After my MRI scan, the technicians and doctors started to panic. The scans revealed that I had a non-malignant (benign) tumor the size of a softball on the left side of my head, around the occipital region but of course also the parietal and temporal regions because it was so big. I forgot the exact name of the type of tumor.

The doctors said that if I had that tumor at that size as an adult, I would definitely be in a coma or dead. They predicted the tumor developed before I was born and slowly grew, while my brain adjusted to it, because of the slow growth.

This was on a Friday. I was immediately admitted and placed on steroids to reduce the swelling before my surgery, which was Monday morning. The surgery itself took eight hours to perform and the neurosurgeon was only able to remove 90% of the tumor without further damage.

The surgery caused many complications. For example, I immediately developed hemianopsia, which is blindness of the peripheral vision. Basically I lost exactly half of my vision, which was on the right side of both eyes, and it was exactly half. It’s pretty hard for most people to understand my blindness and they just reply with “Well can’t you just wear glasses?”

Oh if only it were that simple, Karen.

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After the surgery (which was a success), I was in the hospital for about a week. The surgery caused extreme weakness on the right side of my body, especially my right hand, and near complete paralysis of my right toes, even to this day. I was never able to wear flip flops or flats ever again because I couldn’t build my toe strength back up. This weakness took years of physical therapy to build my other body strength back up.

After I was discharged from the hospital, my mom noticed that my forehead began to swell with fluid. Apparently my left ventricle in my brain had been blocked by the tumor which caused excess fluid in my head after the surgery. I had to get another surgery to have a tube drilled into my hairline to let the fluid drain out.

After that, things began to slowly turn back to normal again. I do believe that the tumor and trauma of it all has stunted my maturity level growing up and I was always a couple of years behind, but I began to catch up — around I’d say 16 — when I ironically joined competitive cheerleading. Most of my teammates were immature but working so hard on that team helped me a lot. My coach believed in me and pushed me. It taught me a lot of things because I had never done sports before then and I was on a high level team. It mainly taught me that anything is possible.

Also, my right hand is significantly smaller than my left one; in fact, the whole anatomy of my right side is different from my left.

The doctors said that I would never be able to drive because of the blindness or it would be very hard. But I am determined. I am signed up for driving classes that includes disabled people and accommodations like special mirrors and stuff. I am starting this summer.

Last March I started my first online business…at the age of 17. It’s called Coral Cove and I sell swimwear, sunglasses, and beach-themed jewelry. It has been a grand success, and I have had almost 500 orders. I also just recently hit 10k followers organically on Coral Cove’s Instagram. THAT’S CRAZY. I am extremely grateful, thankful and proud!

This year at my high school I was chosen as student of the year for the business department of my school. Go Dragons!!

I’m attending college next year, at the University of Tennessee, which is super exciting. I’m shooting for a master’s but I’m contemplating a PhD.

My 18th birthday is May 22. So crazy, 18 years of life. I thank god and am extremely thankful for this opportunity of life. I am a survivor, and I couldn’t be any happier. I empathize for those who have unfortunately lost their life due to a brain tumor. I understand, because I was almost there.

This is my first real story on Quora, if you’ve made it this far thank you for taking the time to read it.

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1 Comment
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