Tumor Update

*Trigger Warning—This post may contain the following triggers: descriptions of surgical techniques and physical symptoms*

Yesterday, I met my brain surgeon. He’s a badass who removes about 300 pituitary tumors per year, and he’s also super nice. His name is Dr. Ferreira.

Dr. Ferreira doesn’t fuck around, which is awesome. I want the straight facts and he gives them to me.

The first thing I learned yesterday is that I do not have an adenoma. I have an epidermoid cyst, a relatively rare type of tumor that only accounts for about 1% of all brain tumors.

I also learned that I have an aneurysm, which will make it less safe to have the tumor removed through my nasal cavity. Instead, the surgeon will remove a small part of my skull and do a “keyhole” craniotomy.

Don’t watch this if you’re squeamish:

Here’s the wonderful news: the type of tumor I have may be a major cause of my chronic neck and back pain.

Do you know what that means??? Getting rid of the epidermoid cyst might also rid my body of its chronic meningitis! My tumor “flakes,” and those flakes are released into the spinal fluid and meninges that surround my spine and skull, causing chronic meningitis—headaches, neck stiffness, vertigo, and other symptoms. (In case you’re wondering, none of this is communicable; I can’t infect you ^_^). This tumor is congenital. It’s probably been growing slowly my entire life.

Here’s the not-so-great news: Epidermoid cysts are difficult to remove “cleanly.” Because they tend to flake, it can be difficult to get them all in one surgery. Dr. Ferreira said he has seen patients that need multiple surgeries over their lifetimes, but I’ll stay positive and hope that I’ll only need a few surgeries (or maybe even one!).

So, what’s the takeaway? Bright, shiny hope!
The key is to temper expectations while hoping for the best! xoxo