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Last fall, in a matter of less than 24 hours, Jennifer went from wondering if her third grade daughter, Laura, needed glasses because she was having troubles reading her school work to watching Laura go into life-saving surgery to have pressure-causing fluid removed from around her brain. It was a terrifying turn of events and Jennifer could hardly believe this was their life?!
The 3T-MRI had revealed that, in addition to the fluid around her brain, Laura had a large tumour that was engulfing the middle of her brain. A small portion had protruded out and was now putting pressure on her optic nerve causing the vision loss. Just days after the initial surgery to drain the fluid, Laura was going back up to the operating room with the hopes that surgeons would be able to biopsy the tumour and remove what was safe to be removed. Since the tumour was so deep in her brain, and it appeared to have been there a long time, it was hard to know how the brain had reorganized itself to accommodate the mass.
Fortunately, the surgeons were able to remove about 20% of the mass and it was determined to be a slow growing, benign tumour. Sadly, after surgery, while she could still distinguish light and some colour, Laura’s sight was almost completely gone. (Ever the optimist, Laura quickly asked if this meant she could get a guide dog!?) Those were difficult days as they came to terms with what this all meant, but they were reassured that with some chemo, the tumour could be kept at bay. It is hoped that as Laura grows, her brain will grow and find new pathways to restore her sight.
Understandably, Laura is not very happy about all that has to happen to her at the hospital, however one of her favorite things to do is collect beads of courage. Each colourful bead is a celebration of another milestone or procedure passed. In January, Laura returned to her school – white cane in hand – and proudly showed her classmates what she has experienced on her road to recovery.
Laura finished 13 weeks of chemotherapy in December and is now visiting the hospital for a monthly dose of chemo for at least a year. An MRI in November revealed that all was stable. She is schedule for another one this month which the family hopes will continue to show the same.