Message 1 of 1
I just read an email about a childhood brain tumor and immediately thought about my cousin. She died in 1986 at the age of 12 as a result of a brain tumor. I remember when we were very young, she complained a lot about headaches. My aunt would simply give her an extra-strength Tylenol and send her to her room. It started when she was about 8 and I was 9. We spent a lot of time together. She always spent the night with me. Her biggest problem was bed-wetting. I couldn't understand why a child her age couldn't control it, that is until she was rushed to the hospital one night. She had spent the night with me and was up crying most of the night. When I turned on the light, her chocolate face bore a red tint and was swollen terribly. I immediately called my mom into the room, who took her straight to the doctor. Before the doctors scanned her brain, they knew it was cancer. She endured 2.5 years of agony that resulted from several brain surgeries, surgeries to insert and change feeding tubes, chemotherapy and radiation. She gained a lot of weight because of the treatments. The one thing that surprised me was that she never lost her hair. It remained long and thick. The only hair she did lose was the hair that was shaven behind her right ear when she had brain surgery. She went into remission for a while, so the doctors discontinued treatment. Not even two months later, cancer returned with a vengence. It was much more aggressive. It grew so rapidly that even radiation and chemo couldn't stop it. So, they stopped all treatment. First, she became too weak to walk and was wheeled around everywhere she wanted to go. Next, she became bedridden and had to use a catheter. Then, she couldn't talk and had to write everything down. Finally, she lost the ability to hold a pencil. We had to guess what she wanted. It was terrible. She clung to life as long as she could. It may sound weird, but it seemed that she held on for so long because she didn't want us to suffer. She never once complained about any of the suffering she endured. Although my aunt never told her she had cancer, I know in my heart that she knew what was wrong with her. She handled it with more strength and courage than any adult could. I feel in my heart that if action had been taken much earlier, she'd still be here.