Facing 3rd brain surgery in 9 months. Still want to hop into that tanning bed?

My melanoma diagnosis came in July of 2011, but in April of 2013 things got a whole lot more serious. The stinking melanoma had spread to my brain. Temporal lobe. Just above my right ear. I didn’t want to have my head cut open. I was scared to death. So after much thought, we decided to do Stereotactic Radiosurgery, which is one enormous dose of radiation to hopefully kill the tumor. It looked good for a while, like it was dying. But it started acting up. It was half dead and half growing again, and the swelling it was causing in my brain was bad. Really bad. It was causing what they call midline shift, where one side of the brain is pushed toward the other. The headaches were insane. I had to let them cut my head open at that point and get that thing out of there or it would have killed me. That was May of 2014.

The surgery went well. We thought it was gone. Again, it behaved for a while, but the stinking thing came back. In the same spot. So in October of 2014, I had a second craniotomy. And then 3 weeks later I had Stereotactic Radiosurgery on another tumor in my occipital lobe. It is deeper in my brain than the first. But the scariest thing is that the occipital lobe controls your vision. Anyway, this tumor acted like it was dying too. Teasing the hell out of me. It was beautifully empty and black on the CT films instead of that solid, ugly white. Sigh. Wish it had stayed that way. But it hasn’t. New glasses and an eye exam in January showed big defects in my visual fields. My peripheral vision had gone to hell because of swelling in my brain from the tumor. A very expensive car accident and an MRI later, and I was on high dose steroids and forbidden to drive. Ugh. Losing my independence at my age really wasn’t at the top of the list of fun and games. Thank God I have a very understanding employer and can work from home, not to mention an incredible husband and family for support.

After almost a month on high dose steroids my vision isn’t improving, and my doctors have come to the conclusion that the only CHANCE, I repeat, CHANCE of getting my peripheral vision back…ever…is to have yet another craniotomy. So off I go to the OR again soon.

And just in case any of the reason for all of this is lost on you?  It’s because I used tanning beds.  All the time.  And it’s because I spent countless summers in the sun, laying in the backyard slathered in baby oil or Bain de Soleil SPF 4 orange gelee.  So please, think twice before you hop into that tanning bed for a “base tan” before spring break, or to warm up from the winter.  You could end up like me.  On the way back to the OR for craniotomy #3.

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