Brain Tumor Journey

The 1 Life Event I’m Still Trying to Understand

Esther Ciganda
Published in
3 min readApr 30, 2022


On January 10, 2022, I learned I had a giant brain tumor, a pituitary macroadenoma.

Photo by Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash

I’ll never forget that day and I’m still trying to understand how to act. I’m a strong, independent single woman and all of a sudden found myself having to surrender. It was time to let my family help me out.

But, this wasn’t what puzzles me to this day. I’m trying to understand my feelings of gratitude and blessings.

Are they selfish feelings or not?

We’re never taught to be ready for the day that life may throw us a curveball. And in my case, I accepted the news and not once asked, “why me?”

I’ve been grateful it was me and not my parents or anyone else in my family. It’s this gratefulness that confuses me.

  • Am I being selfish because I didn’t have to worry about someone else?
  • Or am I at peace with it all because I’m counting the blessings I have?

For example:

  • A family to take care of me.
  • A healthy family dynamic.
  • A place to call home.
  • Food on the table & an abundance of water.
  • Prayers and Positive vibes were sent my way from around the world.
  • My tumor wasn’t going to kill me, even though it could have left me blind.
  • My tumor wasn’t behaving on its own and causing other problems. It was growing large in a place where it didn’t belong & causing harm to the gland.
  • My tumor wasn’t cancerous.
  • And on and on.

In this journey, I remained positive throughout. I would let tears roll at night when I would go to bed and listen to messages from friends. Regardless, I was at peace. The surgery to remove the tumor went well and so has the post-op at almost the 3-month mark.

Finally, today I saw a quote that may have lifted the doubt I carry about how I’m supposed to feel.

If we magnified blessings as much as we magnify disappointments, we would all be much happier.” — John Wooden

Since January, I’ve been counting blessings. I have not focused on anything else. By magnifying my long list of blessings, there’s been no room to focus on negativity.

So, even though we’re never prepared for life’s curveballs, what you can control are the practices of:

  • Gratitude
  • Counting your blessings

As a final reminder again as John Wooden said:

If we magnified blessings as much as we magnify disappointments, we would all be much happier.

Esther is a teacher, podcaster, digital product creator, and die-hard fan of the Washington State Cougars, Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Lakers, & Osasuna. She splits her time between the beach city of Hendaye, France, and the farm in Moses Lake, WA. You’ll catch her using 4 languages daily & she’s also a proud tía (aunt).

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Esther Ciganda

If I can do it, so can you | Midlife, Multilingual + Multipassionate Teacher turned Edupreneur at 45 | Daughter of Basque Immigrants & Farmers, 🧠tumor survivor