Facing your Demons by Barbara Gabogrecan

EBTS makes contact with patients all over the world and recently Barbara Gabogrecan, a brain tumour survivor contacted us about her new website, asking if she could link her site with us and speak about our organization as she spreads awareness about skull base tumours on her Australian speaking tours.  Always eager to add friends for EBTS,  we granted  permission,  and she submitted her story for our Stories. Barbara suffered with a meningioma.  She has encouraging advice for all who suffer from brain tumour post surgical deficits.

Facing Your Demons

Barbara GI have always been a busy person. I thrived on setting and meeting challenges and enjoyed the versatility of my interests. I was an art teacher for over 20 years; I then developed my own successful art business. I bred, exhibited, judged and trained dogs. I founded and ran the association, Home Based Business Australia (HBBA). I was an international speaker and presenter and sat on a number of Government committees. I loved my busy life and always thought that my epitaph would be,  “I wished I had finished that last project!”

However, my world changed in 2011 when I suffered from a stroke and during the CT scan, I discovered that I also had a brain tumour. The stroke was relatively mild but has left me with the rare condition of ‘Alexia without Agraphia’ which simply means that I cannot read, but can write. Connected with this problem, I also have difficulty recalling specific words, names and numbers. Strangely enough, learning that I had a stroke and a brain tumour was not as devastating as discovering that I could not read. As an author and developer of over fifty websites and blogs, I was distraught to think that I could not read. But my silver lining was in discovering the following day that I could write; I just couldn’t read what I had written.

Thankfully, my ability to think clearly and logically had not been impaired, so I immediately set myself a challenge. I would write a book about what I was experiencing in the hope that I could help others who may also be suffering. I even had the title worked out “Thank God I Had a Stroke.” To write the book, my husband, Peter, had to read each page to me as I wrote it. It was a slow and exhausting process. Poor Peter, he would have read the entire manuscript to me at least fifty times over the seven months it took me to write it. But we persevered and now the book has been edited and published and was launched at Parliament House in Melbourne by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health, Ms Ceorgie Crosier, on September 4th 2013.

I had a brilliant surgeon remove the brain tumour which was seven centimeters inside the brain and pushing the brain stem out of alignment. I was not left with any permanent damage, though initially I lost the hearing in one ear, suffered from severe nausea for three months and lost my balance. I would be walking along and bump right into a wall….I still have to be careful as my balance is not good.  Initially I was told to expect to be in hospital and rehabilitation after surgery for up to three months; I was home on day seven!

I attribute my speedy recovery to the following four factors:-

  1. Remaining positive; never wondering “why me”
  2. Caring for and helping other people, even though I was ill myself
  3. Setting myself a super challenge; one that at the time seemed almost impossible to achieve
  4. Concentrating on what I could do, not on what I could not do.

I am still able to do my silk painting and train my dogs. I still run HBBA.   I built a new website and blog,  and am re-vamping another.  I am somewhat slower than what I used to be and have learned to pace myself. I can definitely say “there is still a good life to be had after a stroke and brain tumour”.  Indeed, wonderful things can be the outcome of facing adversity; we just have to confront our demons head on and move forward.

. . .Barbara Gabogrecan,  Australia