I Am Strong… and It’s My Birthday!

My name is Janine. I was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, a rare, “benign” brain tumor, four and half years ago. And today is my birthday.

Where should I begin…

Facial numbness on the entire left side of my face… You know, that truly horrible feeling you have after you’ve been to the dentist and gotten a shot of Novocaine, except it NEVER goes away!

The sensation of hauling around concrete on the left side of my head…

Inability to chew food on the left side of my face… Yep, the teeth on my left side have seen no action for five years…

Facial twitching and spasms on the left side of my face… I am still terrified when these happen.

Drooling is so humiliating and gross…

Dizziness is so inconvenient when you like cute shoes…

Feeling like the world is spinning like a top while I am absolutely still… also a deterrent to cute shoes… (And don’t try this when you’re driving!)

Total loss of hearing in my left ear, except…

For the nonstop and vexing — did I mention, really vexing — buzzing, beeping, roaring, or ringing in my left ear. Sometimes, it is so loud I can barely hear myself think and what thoughts I do have are about ending my miserable existence…

Unbearable hypersensitivity to loud noises and sounds in crowded places, i.e., restaurants, airports, movie theaters, malls, everywhere these days… Seriously, it is like hell has invaded my brain.

Migraines that last for days at best or weeks at the worst — that’s right, weeks, and then leave me with a headache hangover for another week… Shoot me!

Physical exhaustion…

Extreme mental fatigue… No one has any idea. No idea. No idea.

The loss of ever experiencing again a single moment of peace or my beloved silence… except

When I sleep and even that eludes me…

Yes, I have lived with these symptoms for the last 1,643 days… 39,432 hours… 2,365,920 minutes… four and half fracking years.

I am strong!

Yes, two MILLION, three hundred and six-five thousand, nine hundred and twenty minutes, which is rather amazing to me when I remember how I prayed that I would be able to endure these symptoms for six months until my treatment of choice, Gamma Knife, “cured” me.

Hmm, silly me.

Sadly, I am not cured. And I will never be cured, so I’ve been told by my oncologist neurosurgeon.

And this stinking, rotten “benign” brain tumor is really not so very benign at all. Besides all the daily bullsh*t I cope with, if the growth of my tumor does not stay halted, it will press against my brain stem/cerebellum and interrupt vital functions, say like, breathing — and I kill me.

So brain surgery — sometimes, I still can’t believe I have a brain tumor — may be part of my not too distant future.


BUT I am here today! And today is my birthday, so Happy Birthday to me. And, if I may, I would like to say to myself: “I am so proud of me. I am stronger than I ever thought I could be.”

Call to action: Do you believe in your own strength? Has your strength been tested?

Check out my post from last week: I Need to Soar.

4 thoughts on “I Am Strong… and It’s My Birthday!”

  1. I have been with you from the beginning, and I have to say you are the strongest woman that I have the privilege of knowing. I have become stronger through your strength. My constant prayer is that God will continue to give you the courage to go on from day to day, because all things are possible through him. He can and will shrink that tumor. Amen.

  2. Thank you Janine, for your strength and courage through this trying time. If I could change places with you I would. You have been my best friend for many years, and you are the woman that I love. Thank you for your constant love as well.


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