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Triumph After an Intruder of the Brain

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

"My daughter had a stage 2 pilocytic astrocytoma in 2014. It was the size of a golf ball and lodged within her brainstem causing motor issues."

The month of May, designated as Brain Cancer Awareness Month, holds a special place in our hearts. It is an opportunity to remember the journey we have taken and share our story to provide hope and encouragement to those who may be frightened or suffering from brain tumors. Our story, like many others, is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of love and determination in the face of adversity.

In 2014, our lives were turned upside down when our daughter, Brooke, was diagnosed with a stage 2 pilocytic astrocytoma. This tumor, located in her brainstem, was causing severe motor issues and threatened her life. At the time, we didn't realize that a virus she had caught, which led to Bell's palsy and an unsteady gait, would ultimately save her life. It was through these symptoms that we discovered the tumor, after visiting four different doctors. It was Dr. Jindali of Spring Hill, Florida, who finally directed us to St. Joseph Hospital in Tampa, Florida, where Brooke would be cared for by their incredible staff and Dr. Sarah Gaskill, a renowned seventh-generation surgeon.

During this difficult period, our family, including her dad, brother Bryce, and myself, stayed by Brooke's side. I didn't leave the hospital for 13 days. The surgery was successful, but it left her with facial paralysis due to damage to her cranial l nerves 6 and 7. The road to recovery was long and challenging, as she had to relearn how to walk and write. We were fortunate to find a small walker that helped her regain her mobility, and we celebrated every milestone she achieved.

"Yes, I was scared in the beginning, shaved my head as they shaved hers, and prayed that my child would be spared to give testimony."

Throughout this journey, we relied on our faith and love for each other to see us through. As a mother, I did everything I could to support my daughter, including shaving my head in solidarity when her own hair was shaved for surgery. We knew that every day was a gift, and we cherished each moment together. Our prayers were answered, and Brooke emerged stronger and more determined than ever.

Now, Brooke is an unstoppable force, trying out for every opportunity that comes her way. Whether she makes the team or not, the fact that she tries is a testament to her incredible strength and resilience. Her story serves as an inspiration to us and everyone who knows her, reminding us all that we can overcome even the most daunting challenges.

During Brain Cancer Awareness Month, we share our story to give hope to those who may be scared or suffering. We also want to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and seeking multiple opinions when faced with concerning symptoms. Our experience is a testament to the power of perseverance and the importance of staying vigilant in the face of adversity.

As we continue to celebrate Brooke's triumphs, we hope that our story serves as a beacon of light for others facing similar battles. The road to recovery may be long, but with love, support, and determination, it is a journey worth taking.

"Now, she tries out for everything, regardless if she makes it or not, the fact that she tries is a testament and inspiration in itself."

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