"Love never fails", has been my motto for over 30 years. My huge, life-long brain tumor was 'discovered' in the summer of 1990. Two family doctors determined that I was over-stressed and one even suggested I move since I had been suffering from 'allergy' headaches. Fortunately, after being advised by a retired pathologist and my dermatologist, I asked to see a neurologist and my life-long mystery was finally solved. Nobody knew what the outcome of the surgery would be, I fell into a semi-comatose state in the ICU. When I finally woke up I had no voice, could only whisper, and some paralysis on the left side of my body. My shoulders were in pain for having been exposed to the cold air in ICU.
I would repeat myself again and again which made all the family members nervous and sad. After undergoing rigorous physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy for a full month, I was discharged from the treatment center and my oldest brother helped me continue my rehabilitation at my in-law’s place in the country. My surgery pushed my husband to finally complete his course work and he received his degree before Christmas. My oldest brother went home after I was able to walk without a cane, which was almost exactly two months to the date of my surgery.
We flew to Taipei to visit my family in 1995 and my oldest brother bursted into tears seeing that I had become completely 'normal'. My brain has been assaulted three more times by GKRS (Gamma Knife radiosurgery for three residual tumors) and two full doses of chemotherapy (for breast cancer and recurrence.) In the course of 18 years I have changed my profession four times and been 'released' from more than 10 different positions. I was advised not to drive two years ago after a couple of minor car accidents. My husband worries all the time whenever I am home alone. I might burn down the house. My husband had two stents placed in his heart arteries when he was only 45 years old. He started taking blood pressure medicine in his early 20's, but I think my two brain surgeries added a lot of stress to his heart.
I flew home to Taipei by myself in 1998 when mother was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She was scared of surgery and I had to remind her that, "It’s not a brain surgery!" She’s now a healthy 87 year-old great grandmother. She knows how it is to undergo cancer treatment. She’s been there, done that. When my second brother was diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago, I came across a cluster called HNPCC – Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colon Cancer, which seems to fit our family profile. I had already done a genetic testing for BRCA1-VUS, so I underwent a hysterectomy/oophorectomy.
Since then, my facial skin has looked a lot better and the skin on my lips is no longer peeling. The neurosurgeon I saw last year, after I experienced vertigo, said my MRI looked fine. A central neurocytoma is a slow-growing tumor and I often wonder what could have caused it. After my MRI in Ocober 2010, I was referred to a radiation oncologist and we were quite unprepared to learn that one of the five tumors in my brain has the potential to block the CSF to the third ventricle. There are three options: watch and wait, radiosurgery, or craniotomy again. The hospital has acquired a new radiation method, and is just three miles from the house! How lucky I am!
My life journey has confirmed that faith, hope, and love are the three most important things in life. And the greatest is love! Thank you, NBTS and fellow brain tumor fighters. Your faithfulness provides so much needed hope and love to all of us!