In 2011 I found a WHO Grade II Astrocytoma (brain tumour) by complete accident. In 2019, that brain tumour recurred and helped me realise the profound effect it has had on my life, and how grateful I am to Dr Charlie Teo for extending my life.
I initially found the tumour because I cracked a tooth on a peanut M&M. My dentist failed to detect my need for a root canal and I was sent on a wild goose chase around the doctor's offices of Sydney seeking a cause for the agony inside my mouth and face.
I saw a range of surgeons and travelled interstate to seek opinions. Each surgeon but one felt the tumour was too difficult to remove. I hated the idea of doing nothing, and was very fortunate to meet Professor Charlie Teo.
Dr Teo performed a craniotomy. He removed the entire tumour and it was a relatively easy recovery. I was also felt extremely fortunate that the biopsy revealed that the tumour was low grade.
In mid 2019, I had one of my regular follow-up scans. The tumour had grown rapidly, and crossed into multiple lobes of the brain. Dr Teo removed the entire tumour the very next day.
It’s incredible to think that had events not unfolded the way that they did; had I not cracked my tooth on that Peanut M&M, had the dentist discovered what my problem was, or had the GP not sent me to see a neurologist, my life would be completely different.
I pray that a cause and cure for brain tumours is determined soon. In the meantime, I am going to enjoy every moment I have with my husband and children, and dedicate myself to raising awareness and funds for brain cancer research.
In the aftermath of my experience having a recurrent brain tumour has been a great deal of introspection. Facing the trauma of the diagnosis and surgery but also seeing the silver lining and learning to be grateful for the outcome and the people who helped me achieve it. In particular, Dr Charlie Teo, the neurosurgeon who has operated on my brain twice.
Gratitude is a useful and important habit for us all. In this project, I set out to encourage as many people as possible to find their own sense of gratitude, while also raising funds for brain cancer research at the Charlie Teo Foundation; a trailblazing charity working towards a cause that is exceptionally close to my heart.