Living With Her Brain Tumour for Seventeen Years

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AK is a 51-year-old Indonesian lady. In 2000, when AK was 35 years old, she had two seizures. She was admitted to a hospital in Jakarta. A CT scan showed a 6.2 cm mass in her brain.

AK was asked to undergo an operation. The doctor said the tumour was too big and it had to be removed bit by bit, meaning AK has to undergo three operations to remove all the mass. The doctor gave her two weeks to decide. AK refused the surgery.

Up to this day, 17 years later, AK is still doing fine. She has been taking two drugs prescribed by the doctor.

  1. Phenytoin: this is an epileptic drug or anticonvulsant. This drug is used to control seizures.
  2. Nitrazepam: this medication is used to treat sleeping problem and also treat certain types of seizures.

AK had been on these two drugs for 17 years and they helped her. AK is a school teacher and she leads a normal life. But if she stressed herself too much she became tired and need to rest.

Since AK had been taking these drugs for so many years, she felt she wanted to try some herbals and get out of these drugs. To this I cautioned AK that she should continue to take the drugs since they have been helpful for her. Why go for herbs?

Before coming to see us, AK went for a CT/MRI of her brain (below).

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The mass measures 6.2 x 4.3 x 4.3 cm. It did not grow any bigger since the past 17 years. No biopsy was ever done, but according to the medical report this is a right parietal meningioma.

This is the recording of our meeting that morning.

 

 

This is the message I had for AK and her husband.

Chris: I am very impressed with your current condition. You have been living with your brain tumour for the past seventeen years. Did you suffer any problems during this time?

AK: I could lead a normal life. I am a teacher and I am still teaching. But when there was too much stress I felt tired. So I had to rest. Then everything was okay after that.

C: As I have said, I am really, really impressed. Then why do you come and see me? I don’t think you need to take my herbs. Just continue to do what you are doing.

Information from the Internet

You can go into the internet and learn more about meningioma.

http://neurosurgery.ucla.edu/meningioma-brain-tumor

http://www.webmd.com/cancer/brain-cancer/meningioma-causes-symptoms-treatment#1

  • A meningioma is a tumor that forms on membranes that cover the brainand spinal cord just inside the skull.
  • These tumors are often slow-growing. As many as 90% are benign (not cancerous) with low potential to spread.
  • But the growth of benign meningiomas can cause serious problems. In some cases, such growth can be fatal.
  • But some meningiomas are classified as atypical. These are not considered either benign or malignant (cancerous). They may become malignant. A small number of meningiomas are cancerous. They tend to grow quickly. They can also spread to other parts of the brainand beyond, often to the lungs.
  • Meningioma tumors can become quite large. Diameters of 2 inches (5 cm.) are not uncommon.
  • Meningiomas represent about 20 percent of all tumors originating in the head and 10 percent of tumors of the spine.

Symptoms

Because most meningiomas grow very slowly, symptoms often develop gradually, if they develop at all. The most common symptoms include: headaches, seizures, blurred vision, weakness in arms and legs, numbness and speech problems.

Treatment

There are three basic options: observation, surgical removal, and radiation.

Observation: Meningiomas are often slow growing, increasing in size only 1-2 mm per year. If the tumor is not causing any symptoms or not impacting on quality of life, observation is often recommended. Symptoms like seizures can be controlled with medication.

Surgery:  If the tumor’s growth threatens to cause problems or if symptoms begin to develop, surgery may be necessary. Meningioma surgery varies from relatively straightforward to highly complex, sometimes requiring multiple surgeons from different specialties. But surgery carries significant risk of side effecta that can decrease quality of life.

Radiation: This can slow or stop the growth of meningiomas. But younger patients (less than 50 years of age) need to be counselled about the risk of developing radiation-induced cancer ten or more years after radiation treatment. 

Prognosis

Surgery: For tumors in favorable locations, up to 85% of meningiomas are curable with surgery. Location, the amount of the tumor left after surgery, and the skill of the neurosurgeon are the important elements in predicting a successful result.

Radiation: Stereotactic radiosurgery stops the growth of meningiomas in up to 80 percent of cases.

 

 

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