May is Brain Tumor and Brain Cancer Awareness Month! This is one of MY Ribbons that I wear proudly and I know it shocks many people when I casually say yeah I have a brain tumor or 2. Which I always follow up with, I always dreamed of living with a foreign body ….. I just figured he’d be French, Italian, Irish, Portuguese, or the like. LOL
Y’all must know by now my theory on life is that Laughter IS the Best Medicine. Meghan Trainer can tell you it’s “All About That Bass,” but I say It’s All About That Laugh, bout that laugh, Positive Attitude”
I thought about how to start this next part and just kept coming back to …… Here’s My Story, to which has caused me to turn on youtube to watch the Brady Bunch intro. haha But seriously folks, this is my story and that of Bambi that saved my life
In 1995 I was working at the Warner Bros. Studio Stores in Atlantic City, NJ, just downstairs from Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. (the Raintree Forest Cafe is there now) Assistant Manager, if you please, in charge of the backroom …. they did let me out on the floor too LOL. In love with all the stuffed animals and Queen of Plush Mountain, think Elmyra from the “Tiny Tunes.”
September and we were moving the store around and doing inventory, long night and closing up the shop. It was around 2am when I left and on the Atlantic City Expressway headed home. Roads were quiet, hard to see and then just out of your worst nightmare ……… Deer In Headlights!
They say you should just go ahead and hit the darn animal, it’s usually more damage and problems when you swerve and they might be right about that.
However, I swerved, first to the right (and I wasn’t going that fast, yet) and down the side of the road I went. HOLY CRAP! Shaking my head and a bit freaked out I hit the gas to try to get back up the side and on the road and yeap, Suzie Lost Control of the car.
I ended up racing across the road to the center aisle to which my car did a lovely 180 turn on that now flattened grass and the tree helped me stop the car. Thankfully, looks up to the sky, Not a single car was on the road during this nightmare.
My first car, a beautiful white VW Jetta, nice and heavy car and no there was no airbag then. The seatbelt pulled tight and I would walk away with just a bruise from that seatbelt across my chest and a bit of a headache. That’s what I thought is all I walked away with.
Then this nagging headache started, I’ve had them in the past here and there. This one, well this was lasting for days at a time. Trip home and to the Doctor in Sept., oh must be some stress let me do some manipulation and crack your neck. Cool, and all gone. Till October ……. same thing and Doc. same thing. November, I’m seeing a trend and yes again that’s all the Doc did, but gave me some stronger pain pill.
~ Side note, with everyone I worked with being married with family I could only get either Thanksgiving or Christmas, I came home for Thanksgiving and will never forget because that was the last celebration I’d have with my Grandma. ~
Through Grandma’s illness, I tried to forget about my head, kinda hard to do that but there was important things and people to think about. December’s trip the Doctor was much the same and the New Year came. With 1996 brought a Blizzard and Grandma left us early January. I will tell everyone and maintain for the rest of my life, that Millie left us so she could have a talking to God and shoo shoo me back in a little over a month.
With the loss of my Grandma and my birthday coming up, I was fed up with these headaches. People would think get some rest it will go away …. NOT …. they only got worse when I would lay down. A trip to the ER in the Atlantic City area, that doctor gave me a shot of some strong stuff, according to him. That strong stuff did NOTHING for me.
~ Side note, love the movie, Kindergarten Cop, but got really sick of a couple of my friends telling me over and over ……. “It’s Not A Tumor”
Finally this trip to my Doctor and he’s going to do a Cat Scan, on my sinuses. I told him that’s really nice but I want you to scan my entire head and neck. Good thing too that I pushed because he would have treated me for a deviated septum and missed something much MUCH Bigger than that.
I didn’t get the call, it was left on mom and dad’s machine. The call I got was from mom, trying to sound normal. In the office at work, mom says to me, Suze you need to come home, Dr. L wants you to have another test. My response, Mom it’s the yearly inventory and the other managers are off to the California conference so it’s all on me, can’t he wait. Mom says no and finally she says, they found something.
MRI visit was an interesting experience, a cross between what is going on and feeling like going into a torpedo tube. Walking out of the room, there’s a whole hell of a lot of people looking at the screen. I trip and then walk into the left wall (though I’m walking straight no turns) the one tech says, “Do you walk like that often?” Me being me says nawww the wall jumped out. Then I looked at all their faces and took 2 steps backwards and said, well actually lately I sure do. He says, “well that would be expected, come have a look, you have a massive tumor growing in your head.”
Well to say mom and dad were upset would be the understatement of a lifetime. Me, I had one good cry, can’t say I was shocked, maybe a bit surprised by the size of it. Mad as hell for sure because you see because my Oncologist KNEW this could happen. At least 1% of children treated the way I was for Leukemia got brain tumors. All the times she focused on my weight, don’t get me started on why I HATE the words Obesity and Thyroid, I was complaining about headaches. I told you above I had them often, I’d see her, once a month, then every 3 months then every 6 months …… since I was 9. “How are you this month Suzanne?” Well, I’ve had headaches, I fell and sprained this ankle, I fell and sprained that ankle, I’m all bruised from walking into doors. “Ok well I’m concerned about your weight.”
I won’t say she missed it, ok never mind I WILL Say She Missed It. The part that pisses me off the most, is that she never warned us. never told me this could happen, never said a word about what to look for. I will never name her in public, but I did put her out of business. She never answered this simple question. 1% of all patients? 1% of that hospitals patients or 1% of her patients had this happen. To me those are 3 very different numbers. I wrote papers afterwards and it was totally confirmed some years later by St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital that Children with Leukemia (treated the way I was) get Brain Tumors.
The size of mine gave me no choices to look things up, no choices to ask around, we literally opened up my healthcare provider book and picked a name. That Doctor tells me when I ask (because of work and wanting to donate my own blood) Not to wait longer than a month for surgery. I wasn’t scared, upset and pissed yes, but scared no, because it hit me as I saw a vision of my Grandma that she was gonna make sure it was ok.
Surgery was set, Mommy, Daddy, Stephen, John and Kevin were all ready to be there for me. My brother, John, took me to the movies the Saturday before to see, “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” Little did I know that would be the last time I would hear anything music or movies or TV again in stereo. It’s a great movie and yes no doubt about it when those questions are on Jeopardy or the radio, I’m the first to answer what year it was released, who starred in it, what’s the name of the symphony.
As I am here typing this, that surgery went as well as it could. It was a Meningioma a slow growing tumor that was there for at least 5 years, probably longer. It took up all the empty space you see in photos of the head and brain, back by the neck wrapped around my brain stem. Yes, I lost my hearing in my left ear, but most people don’t even notice, just don’t try to talk to me too much in noisy restaurants. My eye likes to close and my smile is a little uneven, but ask my mom and she’ll tell you all the actors, new anchors and performers whose mouths are a bit off.
Sure there’s been other side effects including a second and third bought with my Grey Matter. But I’ve met so many tremendous people along the way and some …. HELLO GORGEOUS, Doctors.
Life is roller coaster, ups and downs and we must learn to live with them and through them. No need to look into the Why this happened to me, the What If’s, those will drive you crazy. Yes get mad if you want, yell now and them (not directly at someone, I like to just yell at the ceiling) a good cry now and then won’t hurt ya either but Laugh and Live and Love everyone around you as much as you can whenever you can.
May Is Brain Tumor / Brain Cancer Awareness Month, Our Color Is Grey …….. Show Your Support! You Can Wear Grey, Dye Your Hair Grey, Put On A Grey Ribbon, Share My Story ….. go ahead I dare ya LOL I thank you for your support and for reading today’s blog post. In the words of Forest Gump, That’s All I have To Say About That.
This isn’t a Scare You story, It’s not a Warning Story, It’s not even a Bashing Story …….
This Is My Story xoxo