In March of 2017, I was seen by an Audiologist for tinnitus (ringing of the ears) in my left ear. As part of their standard procedure, before officially diagnosing it as tinnitus, the Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) department required a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of my ear canal. During this MRI, the radiologist noticed a lesion in my brain and immediately called me in to have two additional MRIs specifically of my brain. It was incidentally discovered that I have a grade II glioma in the insular cortex of my brain that is approximately 4.1cm x 1.7cm. As much of an annoyance as it is to live with an ear that constantly rings, it very well may have saved or prolonged my life.
At this time, I have had a three month follow up MRI and the tumor has not visibly grown. It is growing, though currently at a slow enough rate that it is not visible. This is a good sign as it still remains a grade II and hasn’t progressed to a III or IV. The neurosurgeon I am working with is an expert in insular cortex gliomas and recommends we remove the tumor within the next three to six months. The insular cortex is extremely difficult to operate on as it is surrounded by the major blood vessels in our brain. Brain surgery is always risky, but with it being a deep brain tumor, it makes it much more difficult and even in the last 5 or so years was considered inoperable. Some of the risks i face are stroke, paralysis, coma, death, infection, bleeding, vision problems, or deficits with speech, motor, or sensory perception. It’s extremely scary.
These tumors tend to grow slowly for a period of time and then speed up their progression, which then they’re classified as a grade III or a grade IV ( Glioblastoma) if it begins creating its own blood supply for food essentially. There are really two methodologies for treatment of these types of tumors in the insular cortex. Either you wait and watch (surveil) or surgically have it removed. Both methods pose significant risks, though ultimately the studies have shown surgically removing the tumor provides a longer survival rate. The actual survival rate is unknown since every patient is different, but the statistics show the earlier it is treated, the more effectively it can be managed for the long term and I have the potential of living a long life. If not, then I could have simply a few years to live. The science shows that if it is removed as a grade II, the remaining cells that are unable to be resected will continue to act like a grade II and slowly grow instead of rapidly growing if I decided to wait and it had progressed to a grade III or IV. They can then be treated with radiation and possibly chemo, depending on the type of glioma, to kill or slow the growth of the remaining cancer cells.
I don’t know what my future holds though I know that I will deal with this the rest of my life, however long that may be. Most importantly for me though is that through all of this, my daughter is not burdened by my condition. I like many of us have standard bills and debts including a mortgage, student loans, auto loan, credit cards, utilities, phone, etc. With the potential risks involved and the recovery from surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, it may take a significant amount of time before I am able to work again. There is also the possibility that I potentially could never recover from the deficits of surgery. This will put me in a significant financial burden which will not only affect me, but more importantly my daughter’s quality of life. While being treated, I will be unemployed and I will not be able to cover my current bills or any unforeseen medical or other unknown expenses.
I have never been one to ask for a handout in my life and I am reluctant to ask for any assistance now. I ask only because my daughter is the most important thing in the world to me and ensuring I can come out of this healthy and financially stable to provide her the best life possible is my priority. The unknowns of treatment or tumor progression are extremely scary on their own, though I have to do it to hope for the best long term prognosis.
I will (or a family member will) update this post with current information as to when I have the surgery scheduled, overall how it went, and how all treatments are going. I hope to keep you all informed as I go through this process and hope that in the end I have only good news that can hopefully inspire someone else in a similar situation as mine.
Regardless of whether you do decide to donate to my fund, I appreciate the time you took to read this and hope you have a great day and wonderful life. Thank you to all.
- Brenda Norts
- chris chandler
- Jon Boyer
- Richard Moothart
- Rita Rooks
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