“It was a big shock,” says Gloria Harden when asked about her diagnosis. Harden was told that she had a large tumor in her brain after seeing her doctor for vertigo, dizziness and loss of balance. “I was very disturbed by my symptoms,” she says, “and I couldn’t remember things. My family thought I had Alzheimer’s.” But she went with her instincts and had her symptoms checked out by her primary care physician.
· Personality Change
· Increased Intracranial Pressure
· The likelihood of developing a tumor increases steadily with age
· An estimated 62,930 cases of brain tumors will be diagnosed in 2010
· Brain tumors are the second-leading cause of death in men under age 40
· Brain tumors are the second-leading cause of death in women under age 20
· After the initial brain scans, further testing will be necessary (depending on the specific location of the tumor)
· Ask questions; find out where the tumor is located, what treatment will be needed, etc.
· Allow close friends or family to accompany you on your doctor visits
· Know the risks involved with any procedure to make an educated decision about your course of action
“The doctor called me in to show me the results and he just said ‘Okay, here’s what we have.’ I looked up and all I saw was that big white tumor,” she recalls. “But I just felt so at peace about it. Serenity came right over me.” Harden was told that she needed to see a brain surgeon and her primary care doctor put everything in place. “I didn’t have to do anything. My doctor said he had a friend in neurosurgery so I knew I would be in good hands.”
But according to Harden, she never had a problem. “I woke-up and felt better than I had in years. No headache, no nausea; I didn’t even need pain medication.”
Harden had brain surgery and left the hospital four days later. “I never got down about it and I think that’s how I recovered so quickly. I stayed positive from the moment I saw that tumor,” she says. Harden was lucky; the tumor in her brain was not cancerous but that doesn’t make it harmless. According to Harden, the tumor affected every aspect of her life. She went from an active senior to “not wanting to do anything at all.”
Harden is a fighter who loves life. “Everyone has their battles. I still have battles, even now,” she says. “My motivation was to get back to the way I was before. Everyone was amazed at how quickly I recovered but I knew I wouldn’t be in there for as long as they thought.” Gloria still rolls her eyes thinking about how the hospital staff told her she would need therapy.
Her story comes at the perfect time for Brain Tumor Awareness Month. She wants to remind people to check with their doctors if things don’t seem right because it might not be a factor associated with normal aging; she also wants people to “love life and be at peace”- just like her.
Additional resources gathered from: the American Brain Tumor Association