Survivors and Thrivers Week 2 - Stephanie, Meningioma Survivor

Today is #BrainTumorThursday on Twitter - checkout what this means HERE.

It's also the very second of our weekly Survivors and Thrivers articles.

What is Survivors and Thrivers?

Through our ongoing commitment to raising awareness via Twitter each Thursday with the hastag #braintumorthursday, we have had the honour of meeting a lady called, Megan. Megan's Mum has a Brain Tumour and so Megan knows just how important raising awareness is, but, she also knows how sharing survivor stories can inspire others walking the Brain Tumour road.

We have decided to partner with Megan and her blog and each Thursday we will be sharing a story from a brain tumour survivor.

Survivor and Thriver Week 2:

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot nothing is going to get better. It's not." - Dr. Seuss

It is our pleasure to introduce you to Stephanie – a brain Tumor survivor, who had brain surgery two years ago to remove a baseball size tumor.  She not only is an inspiration to the brain tumor community, she is an inspiration to us all.  Thank you Stephanie for sharing your story.  You can read last week’s profile here, about a brave man named Tom McLain, who is also an inspiration.  If you are interested in participating, you will find information at the end of the post.

This is Stephanie’s story in her own words.

“I am stronger now than I was before my diagnosis.” – Stephanie

I hope…

I hope to achieve my dreams and not take life for granted. I also hope that in my lifetime I will see researchers find a cure for brain Cancer and brain tumors.

I wish…

I wish love, happiness and patience to all of those suffering with this disease and the caregivers, family and friends who help them out. I know I could have never gotten through this without the support of my father and my aunt. Plus all of the love and support of my friends who I work with, friends from school, and friends online.
"You never know what you mean to people until they band together to send prayers, good wishes and good thoughts to you during your recovery." - Stephanie

You never know what you mean to people until they band together to send prayers, good wishes and good thoughts to you during your recovery. I never took them for granted per se, but two years later, I know what I mean to them and give it back freely. They even set up a facebook group for me:

I dream…

I dream about living life to the fullest no matter what. I was like most people going through the daily motions of life and then BAM! It hits you right in the face. I thank God every day for being here and I think I still have so much left to do — maybe it’s bringing brain tumor awareness to everyone I know and am going to meet so we can end this horrible disease.

I am (be)…

I am stronger now than I was before my diagnosis.
"I am stronger than I was before my diagnosis." - Stephanie

Artwork by Jennifer Pick.  Click on this link to go directly to the artist’s website.

In the middle of all of this, I was getting my Associates Degrees in Network Administration and Cisco Telecommunications. I had to drop the spring semester and I was only two semesters away from graduating. My Cisco teacher allowed me to make up the class I dropped in the spring so that I could stay with my section for the fall class. She was trying to show me that she believed in me and that I could do it. I rose to the occasion and showed her how determined I was to get back to my so-called normal life. I got a B in both sections.

Diagnosis and Treatment…

My brain tumor diagnosis was a menigioma. For those of you who know about these tumors — they are usually small in size and are benign. Mine was the size of a baseball, required nine hours of surgery to remove it, and is a Grade II Tumor defined by WHO (World Health Organization). My neurosurgeon said it was benign in nature, but Malignant because of the sheer size. He put it bluntly to me one day while he sat in my hospital room, “You shouldn’t be sitting here today, by all accounts you should be dead.” I now have a titanium plate in my head covering half of my forehead all the way back to the top middle of my head. I also had radiation that made all of my hair on the top and sides of my head fall out. It was one thing to know it could happen and another thing to be standing in the shower pulling clumps out while washing my hair. I now have to take Seizure medicine twice a day and my brain is still swollen.

Favorite quote…

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” ~ Dr. Seuss

(I’d never heard it before and @uvmer tweeted it the first time when I joined #braintumorthursday. I just loved it.)

Three things I’d like to share…

1. Don’t think “It can’t happen to me,” because it can. I’m the perfect example of that.
2. Just because people have a benign brain tumor — they are not lucky. It’s still a tumor in your head and it messes with your brain function. (No offense to those who have malignant tumors. I always say there are people worse off than I am.)
3. I just celebrated my two-year anniversary of my brain surgery on St. Patrick’s Day 2012. So far there is no sign of the tumor or sign of regrowth either.

Photo by (c) Megan Oteri - All rights reserved

If you are a brain tumor patient or survivor and would like to share your story, please CLICK HERE to complete our questionnaire.

Thank you for tuning in today and supporting #braintumorthursday.  We look forward to seeing you here at and every Thursday for #Brain Tumor Thursday and on Twitter every Thursday.  Thank you for your time.

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.