One year ago on August 23rd, my head was sawed open. An awesome neurosurgeon, Dr. Arnold Etame, took out a huge percentage of a large tumor in my brain. The tumor, classified as a Grade 2 (low grade) oligodendroglioma, had apparently been inside me for 20 to 30 years!

Drive to Moffitt through northern Tampa

To the right is our view early in the morning at the sunrise time. My husband drove my Mom and I to the hospital in Tampa for the whole day full of doctor visits and surgery prep on the day before the surgery.

On the surgery day, I remember being very nervous. Even that day before the surgery and on a prescription, I had my “anxiety” attacks. That I had found out from the doctor that these were seizures; I had a lot over the previous two years. I remember lots of random things on the surgery day. For instance, I remember arriving early in the morning with a few other people going for a surgery. I remember the nice strong support from my husband and mom, even though they were nervous, too. Once being driven in to the surgery room, I was prepped for an “awake” surgery. I felt like sort of an asleep state for a lot of the time, but I did talk a lot. I shouldn’t share some of the things I said! I also remember my neurosurgeon playing a certain song before he started his work, and it was so moving and had the positive energy flowing. Towards the end of the surgery, I really remember waking up – as they hammered the staples into my head and I called for more pain meds. I am sure the 10+ hours was even harder for my husband and mother waiting for me. Once out, I got to see them in my nice, only-me room.  I know I fell asleep very quickly to start healing.

Scary view of the day after the brain surgery

The next day, I had already decided to take pictures. Like this one, some of the pictures look scary, but to me it doesn’t look so bad, considering how long the surgery was and how much of the tumor my doctor got out – 90%! No other doctor thought they would get that much.  You can see that the white cotton was where Dr. Etame entered through my skull to get to the brain.  It’s like creating a door opening. He and his team then went through my brain using many curves and a lot of time, mainly being as precise as possible while cutting out a tumor.

The time at Moffitt for only a couple more days was excellent.  Their team was amazingly nice, but also pushing me in a good way.  For instance, this day after the surgery, they immediately asked me why I wasn’t getting up and sitting in the chair and still in bed while watching the Olympics or eating lunch.

There were a lot of scary things happening at that time. But I am so glad and thankful that it all did happen!!  Sure, I have had some difficulties over the past year, but not as bad as it would have been if that huge, whole tumor was still there.  So, thank you everyone who has helped me get through all of this – even if it’s a Facebook like, it means a lot!!

And since this is my first blog post in a VERY long time, I will do my diary research and put up some blog posts from over the past year.  That way anyone who wants to know about the past year will be able to read about the good and challenging things.

On today last year, I started the day with my daily walk around my neighborhood pond during the sunrise view (see on the right).  Next, shower and get ready for work.  I would be a tad late, because we had the exciting new dish washer installed.  Once complete, I then went to work. The Olympics would open that evening, and I was sooooo excited to watch while cleaning dishes in the new dish washer – lol!


That afternoon, I had another usual anxiety attack, but this time right in front of my manager, Jackie W. I was very embarrassed that this had happened at work.  She knew immediately it was a seizure and (THANK YOU!) took me to the local emergency room for an examination. When I think back, my anxiousness had become stronger and more frequent.  I just thought I should go find a therapist, and I would be OK.  But at the ER, my husband, Mike A, and I found out after an MRI that I had a brain tumor.

While I was very scared, it made me know there was a reason for those seizures and we would get them out of me!  I stayed in the hospital a few days (and watched the Olympics!).  The doctors and nurses there treated me so well.  There was even a great view of Clearwater Beach from there.  While we initially thought I would get my tumor removed as soon as possible, we decided to go get some other opinions to ensure we had the right neurosurgeon for me.


Here I am today; even though still tired at times and healing still in the works, I appreciate every day!! Yes, the unicorn can show that dreams can come true!!


Mask Shopping on Chemo
So, yes, the chemo has made me weak, sleepy, pretty boring.  But I still need to get out of the house for a bit.  I visit to pick up some food and supplies means a strong mask is needed.  I refuse to get sick.  I, of course, ordered an even stronger mask than what the doctors said I need.  Gotta be safe!

My Facebook Post:

Update: Today would have been the end of my radiation treatment, but 2 weeks ago after 4 weeks of zaps, my blood parts went down like crazy. The chemo pills had caused low platelets and white blood cells. Blood is starting to get closer to normal every day now. Then I will soon finish the zaps for 2 weeks. Thank you all for your support!!

(Yes, I didn’t share all of the details that you can see here on my site now!)