One year ago today I gained more in perspective than I lost in grey matter. Today marks one year since I underwent a six-hour craniotomy, during which I was completely coherent and awake for forty-five minutes. It still baffles me that it took longer to fill out college applications than it did to sign my life away in paperwork. Last year September 4th was the first day of my senior year of high school, and I spent it in the ICU instead of going over course syllabi.
My brain tumor was in the left insula, a nub tucked in between the frontal and temporal lobes, which is the speech and language hub for most right-handed people. I was told my ability to speak would be severely compromised after surgery, if I were even able to even talk at all. In the weeks leading up to surgery I secretly practiced writing the alphabet with my left hand in preparation for possible right side paralysis. I was proud of how I lived my life up until that point, and knew that regardless of the outcome of surgery, my ripples had already spread around the world.
I emerged from surgery with phenomenal results. I have no visible side effects other than a scar hidden by my hair, the only remnants of the fifty stables that were once there. Under the surface of my head are four plates and eight screws. Their presence and varying textures on the side of my head serve as a daily reminder that nothing I face in life will be more difficult than that surgery. Although not a week goes by without a seizure or headache, working memory difficulties, and energy challenges, I would not choose to alter my circumstances. These obstacles make me a more comprehensive person. I now take the time to realize and appreciate the capabilities I had prior to my surgery, as well as what I have acquired over the past year since.
Today, I am officially ONE YEAR stable. Brain tumors are the second leading cause of cancer related deaths for those under the age of eighteen, and here I am, still standing and navigating a college campus (NBTS). My next MRI, part of my every four months MRI regimen, takes place in two weeks. Thank you to everyone who has cheered me on with support and encouragement over the past year.