A 27-year-old Florida mother has returned home to her 2-year-old daughter and Air Force husband with "so much hope" after being told less than three months ago that she had about a year to live due to an “inoperable” brain tumor. Stephanie, whose last name has not been disclosed, started blogging about her medical battle shortly after receiving a stage 4 gliobastoma diagnosis.
On Feb. 18, she shared with followers on her blog that she had been experiencing painful headaches that would last a few minutes and then fade away. In January, they stopped fading.
“He pulled up my scans and then we saw it,” Stephanie blogged in February. “Right smack dab in the middle of my brain. A lesion. That’s what he first told us it was. A lesion doesn’t sound so bad. That sounds repairable. But he handed me my paper to leave and it said tumor. I have a brain tumor.”
The following week she was admitted to a hospital for a biopsy and subsequent testing. A neuro-oncologist examined her and told her she had an aggressive type of brain cancer.
“Fast forward 3 days and we have a diagnosis. He told us that on a grade of I-IV I had grade IV glioblastoma tumor. The worst,” she wrote. “And because of the location and the risk, it was inoperable.”
Gliobastoma multiforme is the most common and aggressive type of brain tumor in adults. It’s a fast-growing tumor that causes increased pressure within the skull. Patients may experience headaches, tiredness, trouble speaking, memory loss and issues concentrating.
Less than four days later, Stephanie headed to Disney World with her husband, Michael, and daughter, but, while there, was contacted by a neurosurgeon in Oklahoma who had read her blog and wanted the chance to review her case.
“Even if something is difficult and hard, what I find is patients all have the same goals, which is to be there with their family and live life,” Dr. Michael Sughrue, of The Stephenson Cancer Center, told KOCO5. “We spent many years taking many of these inoperable tumors.”
Sughrue removed 90 percent of the tumor and Stephanie underwent subsequent chemotherapy and radiation, with her last treatment on April 12. On April 18, she shared with followers that she had returned home to Panama City where she will recieve follow-up scans to ensure the tumor has not returned.
“When we left here a few months ago, we left quickly and we left in a state of fear,” Stephanie blogged. “The last time we were here we didn’t know I had cancer, let alone grade IV cancer. My tumor was still ‘inoperable.’ Everything was so different the last time we were here and that energy still lingers. Energy of fear and hope rolled into one. It’s even weirder because I feel like a different person now than I was when we left.”
She said the power of prayer and faith helped her get through the ordeal, and that the experience of accepting help from friends has been humbling.
“I can tell that I don’t have a bunch of toxins being pumped into my body daily,” she said of her recovery. “I just feel better. My head is good 98% iof the time and I’m not even taking Tylenol anymore so my daily pill consumption went from 30 and a shot down to 3 and a special drink (heck yea!!) I still get tired faily easy, but my nausea has subsided (mostly) and that has been the worst of it all."