Brain Cancer Symptoms May Have Saved Alexandra’s Life

James Thomas December 10, 2016

Alexandra was 33 and working as an executive assistant at St. James’s Place Wealth Management in London when she was diagnosed with brain cancer. While on vacation in the south of France, she had five grand mal epileptic seizures in a row and slammed her head against a piece of furniture. She was taken to the hospital, where she was too confused to be scared of what they might find. The doctors knew it was serious and ordered a CT scan, which showed a large tumor in her brain. Without these symptoms she may not have caught the brain tumor when she did.

Cancer Detection and Diagnosis

Alexandra’s support system kicked in immediately, and her mother flew to be with her and take her back to the U.K. for a second opinion. She was battered and bruised, wore a black eye and hardly recalled the seizures. But her mother was there holding her hand and reassuring her. In London, the doctors told her that the tumor was located on the front left of her brain, the size of a tangerine and likely 15 to 20 years old.

Alexandra had surgery a week later, and even though the doctors told her the brain tumor surgery was risky and could lead to long-term speech issues, she knew it was better to act and hope. It was a unique procedure that set a precedent in tumor removal, and she was awake for the whole thing, still somehow staying as hopeful as possible. When they were done, they did a biopsy on the tumor and identified it as a stage 1 oligodendroglioma.

A week after the brain cancer surgery, the doctors said she was fine, and Alexandra left the hospital, had champagne with friends and reconnected with her family, feeling healthy and glowing with optimism. However, the doctors informed her that a low-grade oligodendroglioma could grow back. But she felt lucky and decided to do something positive with the luck in her life.

In fact, she began working as a trustee in an organization that brought awareness to those suffering from similar kinds of cancer. Five years after her groundbreaking surgery, a routine MRI scan showed the tumor had returned. There were no brain tumor symptoms this time, and Alexandra was severely shaken. Still, she held onto a philosophy of optimism that she had cultivated when her father died, before her first tumor. She girded herself, prepared for treatment and underwent a second craniotomy wide awake.

Dealing With Treatment

Thankfully, her boyfriend Edward was there with her, providing positive support. It was good to have someone there, to be reminded that this was a step in getting better. After the successful surgery, a biopsy discovered that the tumor had progressed to stage 4 brain cancer. This meant chemotherapy and daily hospital visits. It was a complete and taxing change as she lost her hair and felt the fatigue that comes with the brain tumor treatment. But she was positive and prepared and decided to wear her new collection of hats more regularly.

Hope for the Future

Now, after a month-long break from her treatment, she is scheduled for 12 cycles of chemotherapy over the course of a year. Alexandra believes that this time she will be free of her cancer forever and hopes she will be healthy enough to have children sometime in the future. She has been reshaped by her experiences and surgeries, and it has given her a renewed optimism and lease on life. In that spirit, she has devoted herself to charity and has used her story to remind others that there is always hope.

James Thomas
The Other Side


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