Know the Signs of a Brain Tumor
- Alison Cater, 34, is a mother of two who was diagnosed with a brain tumor “the size of a tangerine” after struggling with fatigue for more than a year.
- Cater’s story is an example that if you ever grow concerned about any changes to your health, you shouldn’t hesitate to contact your doctor.
- One of our experts says healthcare guidelines are meant to do the right thing for the largest number of people while using the fewest resources. So, that means you have to listen to your body, educate yourself and know that you might not always "fit into" the mold.
- Brain tumors, whether they are cancerous or not, can be very dangerous and impact brain function.
- According to the Mayo Clinic, general signs and symptoms of brain tumors can include: headaches or the feeling of pressure in the head; nausea; vomiting; eye issues like blurry vision, and more.
She had a brain tumor the size of a tangerine.Read More
“I was then told I had a tumor the size of a tangerine and needed surgery,” she explained.
But the devastating news did not stop there. Cater also found out surgeons would not be able to remove the tumor in its entirety and she likely only had two months to live if she didn’t have the operation.
Cater underwent the 13-hour operation in October 2022, and awoke unable to walk with a squint in her right eye and trouble walking. Sadly, this would not be the last of her treatments.
After discovering her cancer had returned in December, doctors performed another surgery. This time, it was eight hours long.
Advocating for Your Health
“I lost my hearing in my left side and started a shaking tremor in my left arm,” Cater said of her continued treatment.
“I had six weeks radiotherapy, which started in February, along with chemotherapy pills. I am now on just the chemotherapy pills for six months, which is taking every bit of energy out of me.”
Cater is grateful for the treatment she’s received, but she’s more than understandably struggled with its side effects.
“I’ve gone from being an independent woman who worked and loved family days out and family holidays to having everything done for me,” she said. “I struggle daily now with life. I cannot dress myself or do things like make meals, washing or even walk unaided.
“The biggest daily struggle is not being able to get in and out of the bath alone, which is soul-destroying. If I need some fresh air or a change of scenery, I have to rely on my elderly mother, which is so hard for her, or my husband to push me in a wheelchair.”
Thankfully, her friends and neighbors have stepped up to raise money to build her a more accessible shower, install a stairlift in her home and buy her a mobility scooter. If you’d like to learn more about Cater’s story or donate to her fundraising page, click the link here.
What Is a Brain Tumor?
The likelihood of developing a cancerous tumor that starts in the brain or spinal cord during in your lifetime is less than 1%, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. But even though the odds are in your favor, it’s still important to know what signs to look out for.
According to the Mayo Clinic, general signs and symptoms of brain tumors include:
- Headaches or the feeling of pressure in the head. Headaches are the most common symptom of brain tumors.
- Eye issues like blurry vision, double vision or loss of sight on the sides of your vision.
- Loss of feeling or movement in a leg or arm.
- Balance issues.
- Speech issues.
- Memory issues.
- Issues following simple instructions.
- Shifts in personality or behavior.
- Hearing issues.
- Dizziness or vertigo.
- An increase in appetite and weight gain.
If you ever experience one or more of the above symptoms or grow concerned about any changes to your health, you shouldn’t hesitate to contact your doctor. Addressing symptoms early can be crucial in leading to better outcomes, and it’s important you listen to your body when you’re worried something is off.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to seek out multiple opinions if you feel like your concerns aren’t being taken seriously or properly addressed.
Dr. Zuri Murrell, director of the Cedars-Sinai Colorectal Cancer Center, says healthcare guidelines are meant to do the right thing for the largest number of people while using the fewest resources.
So, that means you have to listen to your body, educate yourself and know that you might not always "fit into" the mold.
"The truth is you have to be in tune with your body, and you realize that you are not the statistic," he said.
"Every appointment you leave as a patient, there should be a plan for what the doc is going to do for you, and if that doesn't work, what the next plan is.
"And I think that that's totally fair. And me as a health professional that's what I do for all of my patients."
There are many different types of brain tumors. Some can be cancerous (malignant) and some can be noncancerous (benign). Cancerous brain tumors tend to grow slowly and noncancerous ones tend to grow quickly, but both can be very dangerous and impact your brain function.
Treatment for a brain tumor depends on its location, size and type as well as your age and overall health. Treatment can also vary depending on the number of tumors. According to the Cleveland Clinic, options include:
- Brain surgery (craniotomy)
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
- Watchful waiting/active surveillance
If you’re facing a brain tumor, talk with your doctor about what treatment path is best for you. And consider getting multiple opinions on the matter.