This year for Brain Tumor Awareness Month, I’m seven years post-diagnosis. It feels like a big deal.

Free brain image in Zentangle style, black and white digital with test "go gray in May" and attribution to emilysuess.com

My Brain Tumor Diagnosis

In February 2017, I was diagnosed with a rare, relatively slow-growing brain tumor. The kind of brain cancer that is overshadowed in the news by stories of politicians with GBM, for example

I believe those stories are important and impactful, but so is mine. So are the stories of all the people whose lives are altered by treatment, bills, and disability and whose names aren’t immediately recognizable.

Every Brain Tumor is Different

Brain tumors can be benign or malignant. They can be in different areas of the brain that affect different processes in the body. For example, seizures are a common symptom of brain tumors, yet I’ve never had one. I am most effected by muscle issues, balance problems, and pain. But there are any number of complications that a patient might report.

Support for Brain Tumor Survivors

Empathy is what I want most. But it’s a very elusive thing, trying to explain to people with actual words what I’m experiencing. I always feel like a failure in the end. There are no words.

But there are specific things people have done for me when my words fail.

The Thing about Early Detection

When it comes to cancer, you hear a lot of well-intentioned people talk about early detection, but that’s an oversimplification for sure. Since pain was and is my key complaint, I didn’t get an MRI when I first sensed something was wrong. what I got was a misdiagnosis and a couple years of Bonus Struggle.

Lacking a dramatic symptom, you might have to push for answers too. I want people who haven’t yet had this fight to try to imagine what it’s like. I want people who are going through it to know I care.

Patient stories matter, and I encourage you to talk about Brain Tumor Awareness Month 2024 with me. If you need free graphics, I shared some here.

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