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Brain Tumor Awareness

What I learned about brain tumors in 2022

Personal Story about my tumor

Photo by Nils Wagner on Unsplash

Most people believe to have a brain tumor removed you have to have open brain surgery or a craniotomy.

Why wouldn’t you believe that yourself? I did. If you remember a little from science class then you know the brain is surrounded by the skull which is bone. This leads us to believe that a craniotomy is needed to get to the brain and remove a tumor. But that is not the case.

What comes into play is:

  • the location
  • the size
  • the type

Because brain tumors vary in location.

The location of the tumor provides key information about treatment.

When I was told I had a giant pituitary tumor, my family and I assumed a craniotomy was necessary. On the same day of my diagnosis, I met with my neurosurgeon. He explained the procedure I needed was an endoscopic transnasal resection of the pituitary adenoma (a transsphenoidal surgery). This meant they would go in through my nose.

I would explain this again to family and friends worldwide because they all assumed I needed a craniotomy.

Not all brain tumors are one-size-fits-all.

Some tumors are giants, some are large and some are small.

Depending on the size of the tumor, it may not be removed. They explained how some pituitary tumors are treated with radiation when they are smaller and away from the optic nerves. In my case, I had a golf-ball-size mass (4.2 cm x 3.3 cm) taking over the pituitary that’s the size of a pea. The size was causing vision loss and radiation was not an option.

Let’s not forget the type.

Other treatment options, besides surgery, are available based on how the tumor acts

I had blood tests done to see if my tumor was a secreting or non-secreting tumor of the hormone prolactin. While my levels were high, they weren’t high enough to be a prolactinoma. They mentioned how certain drugs could be prescribed to reduce the size of the tumor, but not an option in my case.

Remember, I had a giant tumor that was causing vision loss. So, we had to act fast.

Remember brain tumors are not created equal.

You’d never think I just had brain surgery because I have no visible scars.

In fact, my neurosurgeon reminded me recently:

  • That he did do brain surgery on me and to give myself a lot of grace, rest, and be patient.
  • I have no scars but what they did is:

“minimally invasive on the outside and maximally invasive on the inside.”

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

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

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