Two years ago, Lambda sister Lauren McGrath was diagnosed with a rare type of brain mass called an arachnoid cyst. For years, her neurologist and different technicians missed the cyst on her brain scans. It was so large that she could even see it when it was pointed out to her.
McGrath’s symptoms developed from migraines to the inability to walk or drive because of constant dizziness. But she ignored her symptoms and began driving to her summer job. One day, she forgot where she was going and even where she lived.
The pressure in McGrath’s brain was too much for her body to handle. She finally found a doctor who diagnosed the problem. She underwent a successful eight hour surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital where they removed the cyst.
The recovery was slow and hard. But McGrath is feeling much better and says she has a “pretty cool-looking scar” on her scalp to show for it. Unfortunately, her story is not rare, especially for women.
Brain tumor symptoms are often overlooked in women and discounted as stress, anxiety or an effect of hormones. It is hard for McGrath to know that much of her life could have been different and easier if the mass was found before it could cause stress and damage to her cranial nerves. She is one of the lucky few who got away without many symptoms, but others are not so lucky.
If McGrath had waited one more month before surgery, she would have lost all hearing in her left ear. She is now a fundraiser for the National Brain Tumor Society through its annual DC walk in May. The money raised goes to research on rare cases like McGrath’s and development of newer, less painful treatment methods.
As a senior at John Hopkins University, fundraising is an important way for McGrath to celebrate the fact that she has been given the gift of health and is able to graduate on time despite her setbacks. If you can donate even a dollar, it will make a difference. She believes brain disease is preventable and treatable, if we work to find and support solutions.
“My Delta Xi Phi sisters helped me live through this challenge, and I know we can help others too!” McGrath said.
Visit her Web page to donate and feel free to pass on the link to family and friends.