Christina Anderson, a 24-year-old nurse, was three months away from her wedding when she received some bad news: A very rare type of benign tumor the size of a golf ball had grown in the back of her brain.
She needed to have surgery, but the operation would not stop her from walking down the aisle without a walker, neither would it require her to cut off all her hair.
24-year-old Christina Anderson was in the middle of planning her wedding when doctors told her she would need emergency surgery to remove a brain tumor. https://t.co/nAMIKmjjNx
— KEYC News 12 (@KEYCNews12) August 12, 2019
Anderson had been feeling unwell for months while she was preparing for her big day.
“I passed out, got super shaky, headaches, blurred vision,” she said. “It’s like on a merry-go-round that you can never get off,” reported Fox 9.
She eventually went for an MRI at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato.
“It took the doctor a long time to come in,” Anderson said. “So I knew something was up. And she pulled up to me, and she was like, ‘So I’ve got some bad news, honey.’ And I was just like, ‘What now?’” reported KEYC12.
The doctors found hemangioblastoma, which is “a benign, highly vascular tumor that can occur in the brain, spinal cord, and retina. This tumor accounts for about 2 percent of brain tumors. As it enlarges, it presses on the brain and can cause neurological symptoms, such as headaches, weakness, sensory loss, balance and coordination problems, and/or hydrocephalus (a buildup of spinal fluid in the brain),” according to GARD.
Anderson told Fox 9 that her fiancé Brandon Jenson was worried but encouraged her.
“I guess I really didn’t have a choice, honestly. Because it was either I die, which obviously wasn’t an option, or I get the surgery and I stop spinning. So I didn’t have much time to analyze,” Anderson said.
Five days after the discovery of the brain tumor, Anderson underwent an 8-hour-long surgery on May 7.
She received steroids to reduce inflammation and provide extra space for the surgeons to work inside her head.
The tumor was removed, but she had an important question to ask the doctor.
“She had a wedding to go to and she refused. She said she was not having her hair cut. So that was our first fight already,” Dr. Sharma said.
Although she woke up feeling weak and in pain, she was able to walk the day after the surgery.
“It’s an awful tumor and we can’t guarantee anything,” Marilyn, Anderson’s mother, told The Free Press. “He was not going to let us go into it blind.”
“When we found out she had a brain tumor it was so sudden,” said Marilyn. “It was 11 o’clock at night and all we could think about is our daughter was going to die.”
“There was a lot of frustration when I first got out of surgery, because I couldn’t do the things I needed to do,” Anderson said.
“I know it’s their job and they chose the profession, but I felt like such an inconvenience because I knew what it’s like to help other people,” she said.
Marilyn said Anderson didn’t want anyone to feel bad for her.
“She had just such a fabulous outlook,” Marilyn said. “She smiled during the entire thing.”
Determined bride swore she wouldn’t let a golf ball-sized brain tumor stop her wedding : In May, three months before she was set to be married Christina Anderson, 24, from Watertown, South Dakota, was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor that was… https://t.co/UrxjxRsIoY pic.twitter.com/i4sLmKXzTT
— RushReads (@RushReads) August 26, 2019
Anderson remembers that her fiancé slept in a small chair in her room at the hospital, refusing to leave.
She managed to walk down the aisle on her wedding day without a walker, “That wasn’t even an option for me, to use the walker for my wedding. It wasn’t even an option. I was going to get rid of that thing. One way or another it was going,” said Anderson.
— idRomance (@idromance) August 10, 2019