Thursday, April 30, 2009

To Biopsy or not to Biopsy....

So, the question of the day is, "Is it worth the risk to biopsy the tumor to find out what it is?"

Jodi talked to Dr. Couldwell again yesterday for just a few minutes with this question in mind. Tolan and Jodi will meet with Dr. Couldwell on May 11 to discuss all the options for a biopsy. She could have had the biopsy performed next week, but with Dr. Couldwell out of town until the night before the proposed procedure, there would be no time to find out the options and discuss the risks vs. benefits of the procedure before heading to the OR. So, once again, it will be a matter of time. Waiting isn't fun, but it is better than being too hasty (can't be too cautious when it comes to the brain).

Hopefully in the next meeting, they will talk about the different procedure "paths" (where they will go in and how they will navigate to get to the tumor), as well as risks vs benefits discussion. The risks are many, but the benefit of finding out what we are really dealing with and how to treat it is very appealing.

So, in the meantime, Jodi is hoping for more good days where she can do a few things for herself and her family. She has an appointment on May 7 with Dr. Shelton, an ENT in Salt Lake that will likely perform the biopsy with Dr. Couldwell if they proceed down that path.

Hopefully the next week will also bring about the connection with the Johns Hopkins team so they can begin reviewing the case, as well. Wish there was more concrete info to update, but these things are slow going.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Note from Jodi

Good morning, everyone. This is Jodi. I just wanted to take a minute to express my love and gratitude to all of you.

As I sit at my computer this morning, the sun is streaming through the windows. I can feel the warmth on my skin and it feels wonderful. I feel very full of love and appreciation for all the prayers, fasting, temple trips, well wishes, good thoughts, positive vibes, friendly visits, yummy meals, beautiful flowers, sweet cards, tasty treats, nice calls, friendly emails, text messages and uplifting stories.

Honestly, it is very humbling to know of the hundreds of people that are praying for me. I feel a but guilty hogging all the blessings. I know there are so many people in need of love and miracles. I wish every person could feel the outpouring of love I have felt from each of you.

This weekend I struggled as I prayed to my Heavenly Father. The words just weren't there. I didn't know what to say or how to feel about this challenge in front of me. All I could do was ask for help. I have been very limited in what I have been able to do for several weeks, as the pain and pressure in my head forced me to remain in a "laying down" position in order to feel relief. Even though my prayers were far less than adequate, all of yours have made up the difference. The last 2+ days I have felt so much better and I have actually been able to be up and functioning for periods during the day. No doubt, this is one of the miracles we have been seeking.

In just a few minutes, I will be leaving for the Huntsman Cancer Center for another test. I will get to spend the day with my father-in-law, Larry, and I am really looking forward to this time. I love Larry and cherish the few moments we spend visiting together. I felt the same way as I visited with my mother-in-law Kay last week as she helped with the kids while I rested. I would never have asked for it in this way, but the visits and calls I have had with each of you are huge blessings in my life. These are times we may not have spent with each other in other circumstances. How blessed I feel that you are each sharing your lives and time with me. Thank you.

My mom is on her way out the door with my little Daven and Casen. They are heading to the playground at the mall. My children are getting to spend time with their grandma and my whole family has been blessed and enriched by all the help, love and support. My dad constantly updates us on all the people doing so much to support us.

To Tami, my sister, thanks for staying positive, talking to me about normal stuff and being a rock in my life. To my sister, Kristi, I love you and am only now beginning to understand some of the challenges you have experienced. Perhaps now I will be more sympathetic. Thanks for listening. My sisters and mom are my best girlfriends in the world.

I want Tolan to know that he is my everything. He may not have known what he was getting into when he married me, but he becomes more amazing everyday. All my love...

Today my heart is full. Thank you to all those supporting my parents and family members. The Polynesian Cultural Center and BYUH family has been amazing in their support and love. You cannot possibly imagine how much it means to all of us. I don't know whether or not my planned Hawaii trip will happen this summer, but I hope someday soon I can thank each of you in person. (Depending on how things progress, I may have to use the "I have a brain tumor" card to get out of my non-refundable tickets...) Hopefully, miracles will continue and I will be in Laie to watch my mom and brother, Brandon, graduate from BYUH!

OK, this is already much longer than I intended. What I really wanted to say is thank you, I love you and may God bless each of you, as He has blessed me and my family.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A little more news

The last few days have been mostly waiting...Jodi and Sherri stayed at home all day on Monday because there were supposed to receive a call from Dr. Couldwell. After many tries to his office, they were never able to get through, but didn't dare leave and miss the call. This was frustrating for Jodi, as each day she feels like her life is "hanging in the balance".

On a positive note, she had a really good day, and felt well much of the day. She had visits from good friends and neighbors, which always makes her smile. Loni (DeFriez) Jay came and spent the morning visiting and helping with the kids so Sherri could run errands. Rose Bell and neighbor Catalina came by with wonderful wishes and wise words. Neighbors Cindy and Mark brought over a yummy pasta dinner which just about everyone ate (Wow!) so mealtime was good, too.

The long-awaited phone call never came yesterday and by the time Tolan got home, Jodi was getting restless. She hadn't left the house in almost 2 weeks, except to go to the hospital or doctor's appointments. So, Tolan took her to the mall. They have borrowed a wheelchair from Jodi Carlson, a good friend who had a stroke last year. Jodi C is walking again now and was kind enough to let them use her chair while it is needed.

Jodi can still walk, but the vertigo is so intense, her walking is hampered by her brain as it makes everything spin. So, a stroll in the wheelchair takes much less focus and effort. Tolan spent nearly 2 hours shopping with Jodi (she said he was very patient with her!!) as she tried on clothes. In the end, she was exhausted, but had fun feeling "normal" for the first time in weeks!

Today the phone call from Dr. Couldwell finally came.

Good news -- He said the test results for MS and multiple other "disease" illnesses came back negative (though MS is one of those hard-to-diagnose possibilities that is nearly always there).

No News -- They still do not what what she has. It does not fit into any "category" that yet makes sense.

Good News -- Dr. Couldwell told Jodi that he has many people looking into her case. He took her information to another set of doctors this morning and they all discussed it together. Though there was no consensus, he continues to involve people and look for answers. He assured her they will continue to look.

Test news -- They recommended a test for another disease, Sarcoidosis. This disease is an auto-immune disease that causes the immune tissues to clump into small masses that resemble tumors. In many parts of the body, this disease can be treated, if it appears in the brain, it is dependent on location.

Next steps -- Tomorrow Tolan's dad is taking Jodi back to SLC to the Huntsman Cancer Center where they will test for Sarcoidosis. It is a simple test and results should be back in a few days.

Dr. Couldwell also is setting a date for a biopsy of the "tumor". It won't be for at least 10 days, but he wants to get her on the schedule so they can finally figure out what "IT" is. They haven't talked about risks/benefits or surgery routes, but will do so prior to actually going forward with a biopsy. But, by putting her on the schedule, at least a plan can be put into motion, even if they later decide against the biopsy. Much prayer and many discussions with the doctors and family will take place before any decision is made.

In the meantime, Jodi is asking her docs at the U to work with a team at Johns Hopkins. Jodi's friend, Clark, has opened up this door with some of his contacts so they are pursuing a course of action that will let the Hopkins team see all of Jodi's information, scans and test results. Hopefully someone there will have more ideas.

The family continues to be overwhelmed by the love and support they feel. Thanks to everyone for their help, meals, calls, visits, cards, babysitting, etc.

Jodi doesn't want to miss anyone who has helped, but specifically wanted to say thanks to Tamee for all her pick-me-ups... plus Brittany, Annette, Cami, Andee, Cathy, Wendy, Jeanette and all the 8th and 5th ward friends who are doing so much everyday. Jodi is also sooo grateful for her family....can't say thanks enough to parents, siblings, in-laws, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. Love to all.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Message of Thanks

This is Tolan. I just want to say thanks to everyone. We’ve had so many phone calls, voice mail and email messages and visits that we’re not keeping up very well and it may take us a little while to get back to you but we do appreciate the support. The meals and support from ward members, family, and friends has been overwhelming and we sincerely appreciate it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

ENT Report

Jodi had an appointment at with an ENT at McKay-Dee Hospital this morning. She and Sherri (mom) went to the hospital while Kay (Tolan's mom) stayed at home with the boys.

The visit did produce some new information, though not much more in the way of a real diagnosis. The previous tests did come out well, meaning Jodi currently has no hearing loss or facial nerve damage to this point. The ENT explained a few points about the tumor, its location and effetcs.

* The tumor is on the outside of the ear canal, in the brain, but butted up against the bone that creates the ear. Therefore, it is wedged between a "rock" (bone) and a bad place (brain stem). The tumor is essentially flattening the nerves, making them thin like paper, hence, causing the vertigo and imbalance. With no where for the tumor to go, further symptoms may arise as valuable "critical" space is impeded by the tumor.
* Though there is still no "name" for it, the ENT believes it to be one of 3 potential types of tumors, all of which are similar enough in characteristics that they could be treated in like manners. His three potential options for Jodi's tumor were:
1) Wait and see -- this is only a good option if the symptoms are not severe enough to impede normal life. Given the severity of Jodi's current symptoms, waiting for a year to take another look doesn't sound appealing.
2) Surgery
a) Through the ear canal - this possibility is the most direct route to the tumor, but surgery would leave Jodi completely deaf in the right ear. Only a good option for those who have already lost their hearing.
b) Around the ear - This is a tricky path to navigate as doctors would have to go through the facial nerves and around the auditory canals to get to the tumor. This could result in facial paralysis or deafness.
c) Mid fosa (?) - This is above the ear, cutting a section of the skull and moving the brain to reach the tumor. It is a "better" path, but still not direct and still close to all the auditory and facial nerves. Likely the recommended path if surgery is the option. Some specialists in the area have done this with success in navigating the critical areas around the brain stem.
Though these are all surgery options, the entire tumor still couldn't likely be removed, as it wraps around and "seeds" into the stem, therefore making complete removal highly unlikely.
3) Gamma Knife - A radiation treatment precisely targeted at the tumor. It would not remove the tumor, but would stop its growth and potentially shrink it. However, these tumors have a high likelihood of returning and if you radiate the brain this early in life, it has the possibility of making it harder to fight a more aggressive tumor that could reappear in 2-30 years. Plus, radiating any part of the brain causes the chance of damaging critical tissue cells in the surrounding areas.

So, none are perfect options, but those appear to be the facts. Jodi has another appointment set up with more specialists in SLC, who work specifically with these kind of tricky cases. Sadly, the earliest appointment isn't for a few more weeks...perhaps with more persistence and calls, things can be rushed.

After the ENT appointment, Jodi and Sherri went to visit Jodi's friend at the hospital. Paul is the director of cancer services and one of Jodi's favorite people on earth. Paul was wonderful to boost her spirits, while simulatenously giving her some "real life" wisdom to contemplate and process regarding the whole situation. She is clearly beginning to realize this may not be an "easy road" that she just takes care of then pops back into normal life. This may be a longer hike with a few steeper time to get the hiking boots on and worn in!

Still, Paul was the angel of the day, with his bright smile and warm caring embrace. :)

She was dizzy at home all afternoon, so she and Kay took the chance to just sit and visit while Jodi rested.

Her young women Lisa and Megan brightened her spirits with calls, along with voice mails from Jason, her sister Kristi, her dad and other friends and family. Her friend Kelly also had some wise words, from someone who has had many traumatic experiences herself...these "understanding" words definitely help when trying to cope. Cami Hall took the kids and visited for a while, too. It is all of this that keeps them all going.

Neighbors Curtis and Vener brought over a yummy dinner and Jodi's appetite finally returned. She tried to eat enough tonight to gain back the 8 pounds she's lost in the last 10 days. Hopefully she succeeded. Hopefully a nice, peaceful night for Tolan and Jodi to spend at home with their little family.

Jodi would also like to invite everyone to pray for so many others who are in need of help right now...she doesn't want to hog all the blessings! So many friends and family members are in need, let's all pray for each other!

Pictures of Angels and Miracles

These are a few pictures of the angels who administered at Jodi's house over the last few days...a yard full of balloons from the YW and a yard full of birthday party from the whole neighborhood. True service in action!

When the balloons arrived in the front yard, Jodi had only been home from the hospital for a few hours and was still feeling pretty "off". The balloons and smiling faces were a huge lift to her spirits.

Daven's spirits were lifted as well, by lots of flying cotton candy,
balloons and fun presents. Thanks to all!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Daven's Birthday (and no more answers yet)

April 23 is little Daven's birthday. With the hectic crazy things that have been going on, the birthday approached without much warning. But, the neighbors and friends recognized that a 2nd birthday cannot go on without a party. So, they brought a party to Daven!

Right after the kids got out of school, Kathryn showed up with a cotton candy machine, Jeff and Andee brought balloons and the whole neighborhood full of kids (somewhere between 25-40) showed up for treats. Many kids and parents came over to visit and brought Daven gifts and presents. It was truly unbelievable. Jodi's mom made her a nice bed outside so she could witness the whole event and marvel at the party that was brought to her home. It was amazing.

Today was a much better day for Jodi, though she clearly doesn't know what to expect for the new "normal". She had hoped to function well, now that the spinal headache was gone, and was disappointed to see how dizzy she still was and how little functioning happened. She was also very sick to her stomach all day. This could be because of the steriods she is on for the tumor, but it could be just the stress of the week. Regardless, she had hoped to feel better and is still hoping to be doing better tomorrow. It was still a much better day, and that is a blessing.

She got a call from the doctor's office, and they simply let her know that they know she is still waiting for answers. They will call when they have any news to still waiting.

Tomorrow she is scheduled to go back to McKay-Dee to meet with an ENT and hear the results of her tests yesterday. The early indications suggest she does not have any major hearing loss (or maybe any at all), despite where the tumor is sitting. She also does not have facial paralysis or nerve damage, but all of these things could still come if the tumor continues to go untreated. Hence, the need to figure out what it is and what the treatment plan will be!

So, everyone keep praying for answers and looking for solutions. She is hoping to be more functioning tomorrow and hopefully hear back from the specialists soon.

Tests and More Miracles

The appointment at the University of Utah turned into a bigger ordeal than anticipated. Tolan and Jodi went in for the appointment and Dr. Couldwell, the specialist, started by saying he wasn't even sure what to call "it", meaning he wasn't convinced it was even a tumor. Not wanting to rule anything out incorrectly, he decided on the spot to admit Jodi to the U Hospital for tests. Within minutes, she was moved to the building next door, into the Neuro Acute Unit to begin testing.

Tolan went home to be with the family and Jodi started a plethora of tests at the hospital. These were not at all pleasant and she says they seemed to be designed for exactly what she couldn't handle at the time. When she came out of one tough go round, Tolan and the kids were waiting in the room to see Mom. It was emotional for her and for everyone. Lots of loves and hugs went around the room. The family stayed for a while, then it was back for more testing for Jodi.

After several blood draws and pin pokes, it was about 9pm and she thought she would get to eat and go to bed. But, to no avail. A doctor came in and wanted to do a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) right then and there. So, she curled into a little ball and assumed the position. Not a fun procedure, followed by a Horrible "recovery". A spinal headache ensued, which is described as the worst migraine you can imagine. It was supposed to last for a few hours, but in Jodi's case, it lasted for 5 days. Apparently, the hole didn't seal after the puncture, so fluid continued to leak inside her body for days. Any movement at all (outside of a lay-down flat, do not move at all) position caused pain so severe she was completely debilitated. She remained like that throughout the rest of the hospital stay (which no one notified her was unusual!!!). Nurses brought pain killers, but nothing was done or said to indicate that something was wrong or anything could be done.

When she was released from the hospital, she was completely incapicated. Tolan was quite concerned since when he left Jodi at the hospital she was at least functioning, and when he picked her up, she couldn't even lift her head.

Results from the weekend of tests are still coming in. Numerous opinions and erroneous diagnoses were given by a variety of well-meaning residents who were anxious to share their knowledge. This was another rollercoaster in itself. But, in the end, Dr. Couldwell assured Jodi that even though he didn't know what was wrong with her, he would keep working on it until they figure it out...she is in his charge and is to listen to no one else (for the time being). (At least no more residents.)

After being home in bad shape for a few days, the family was getting very worried if this was Jodi's "new" normal state, in bed, flat out, unable to move. It was a very scary situation.

In walks another angel and miracle. Jodi's former neighbor, Stacey, stopped by to check on her and see how things were going. Stacey is a nurse and upon hearing about Jodi's new symptoms knew immediately that a spinal leak was creating the new headaches. The answer, she said, was a blood patch, a simple surgical procedure to seal the puncture wound from the original spinal tap. In walks another angel. While Stacey was still at the house, another nurse friend, Kathyrn, who works are the hospital concurred with the "diagnosis" and immediately began phoning the appropriate doctors to make things happen. It was too late at night for anything that evening, but the angels and miracles were already in motion...

Wednesday Jodi and her mom went to the hospital for another series of grueling tests. They were particularly difficult because of her headaches. They "drowned" her head and filled her head with water, giving her vertigo, then tested her (4 times, 2 times in each ear) to see if she could function in this vertigo state. It was an awful experience that made her feel even worse.

After the tests, she was supposed to find the doctor to talk to about getting a blood patch. More angels and miracles... Jodi could not even sit up at this time. They found her a bed and she waited to see the doctor. The doctor had no record from the U about the spinal tap (it wasn't even entered into their systems yet), had no authorizing physician to perform a surgery, and there was no record she was even there, as a patient. Phone calls were made, papers were signed, and angels made everything happen.

Jodi was in a complete "stupor" unable to do anything, but everyone around her took care of it all. Her mom signed papers, doctors made calls, technicians started IVs and a nurse and doctor pulled her into an open OR and did surgery. Just like that. No being on a list, no all just happened. One doctor and one nurse stayed in the room. She said the nurse turned to the doctor and said, "Doctor, we are here to perform a blood patch on Jodi Brown. Do you concrur?" "Yes," said the doctor. "I guess we better write this down somewhere. Get me a piece of paper to sign." Just like that, it happened. Within 25-30 minutes, the surgery was complete and Jodi was resting quietly in the OR. The doctor didn't even know where to put her, so he and the nurse arranged her a place in the OR, covered her with warm blankets and stayed by her side on and off for 2 hours as she recovered in peace.

These men were true angels. They did what needed to be done without question or hesitation. By the time it was over, Jodi was able to get off the bed for the first time and hug the doctor and the nurse.

Angels are working all around the family. Neighbors and friends have taken care of everything. Kathryn stayed at the house with the kids, calling doctors at the hospital. Wendy picked up kids from school and Andee brought in dinner. Cathy brought groceries, Cami watched kids, Cami and Brittany came by and everyone has pitched in to help. The young women Jodi works with at church came by the house and put dozens of balloons with get-well wishes in the yard. When Tolan escorted Jodi out front to see, the girls flew out of the cars and into her arms for loving embraces. They were heaven sent...angels all!

Then The Miracles Started

Prayers and miracles started happening from the minute that the "news" broke. Jodi and her family have been inundated with calls, cards, flowers, good wishes, prayers and fasting from people ALL OVER THE WORLD, from Utah to Virginia to Hawaii to Hong Kong.

These people have become the angels getting them through each minute of each day. PLEASE, realize that you are angels and keep the miracles coming!!

Angels work in many ways. Some of these angels have helped Jodi's family make connections with those who might be able to help her. One such angel came through Tolan's work...someone told someone else the story. That person was friends with THE specialist at the U, and in a matter of hours, an appointment was set for Friday, with the top neuroscientist in the state. Friends are the angels that make things happen!!

In the meantime, people in everyone's networks started finding out and prayers and fasts have taken place almost daily. The family has received words that literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of people are praying for Jodi and the family. WOW! Students at BYU Hawaii, friends, family, church members, long-lost friends, and perfect strangers have joined in the efforts. Thank you to EVERYONE who has participated in any way. Even your "silent vibes" are getting through. Thank you!

Diagnosis Part II

Jodi and Tolan were supposed to have an appointment with the neurosurgeon on Monday, April 13. Jodi had high hopes and a good attitude all day. Sadly, when the time came, a call was received and the doctor was "stuck" in surgery, so the appointment had to be postponed. Another day to wait.

The meeting was rescheduled for the following day and this time, went as scheduled. The news, however, was not good. Dr. Winters explained 2 things. 1)Normally there are benign tumors and malignant tumors, but in the brain everything is considered malignant (or life threatening) because there is no extra space in the brain for tumors to grow. 2) The brain is all about "location, location, location". In this case, Dr. Winters said, the tumor is in a very bad location.

The tumor appears to be growing in/and/or through the brain stem (almost wrapped around it) making it "inoperable" for all intents and purposes. At the time, he didn't even recommend a biopsy, because the tumor is very small and in such a critical place, there is a huge risk for making things worse.

The next thought Jodi and Tolan had was to "radiate it". Another quick tumor education ensued and it turns out it is far worse to treat a tumor the wrong way than not to treat it at all. If you radiate a benign tumor, it can become active, so it is best not to treat it until you know exactly what you are dealing with.

Conclusion: Don't operate. Don't biopsy. Don't treat it yet. Wait and see.

Not fun news, since Jodi's symptoms have been getting worse.

The doctor suggested other healthcare specialists who might be able to help and said he would take her "case" to the interdisciplinary board for further discussion by the team of experts. He also noted a neuro specialist at the University of Utah who has more experience with this part of the brain and might consider doing a biopsy to find out what it is.... a little hope.

Another very emotional few days trying to get appointments scheduled and find out where to go next.

Easter Weekend

Jodi and Tolan both quickly became "experts" on brain tumors and had Googled every option they could think of within the first few hours and days of the initial diagnosis. Both had independently arrived at a similar conclusion, and the "results" looked OK. From the signs and symptoms, there was reason for optimism and hope.

Saturday Jodi's nephew, Trent, was baptized in Orem, so the whole family gathered for the wonderful occasion. It was a good, but difficult day as everyone had a hard time keeping emotions in check. No one could quite look at each other in the eyes without tears appearing. But it was still a wonderful day.

Easter was not typical for Jodi and Tolan, but Grandma Orgill was there and together it was still a great family celebration for the Savior.

The family had a meeting with the kids to let them know what was going on, though clearly, no one had any idea what to expect for the future.

Tolan's parents were in and out over the weekend and everyone just tried to make sense of the new reality.

Thank heaven for Grandmas and Grandpas who kept things going when the craziness started to set in.

April 10, 2009 : Initial Diagnosis

Jodi drove herself to McKay-Dee Hospital for the MRI nice and early Friday morning, April 10, 2009. She anticipated the MRI would be simply a "Step" in figuring out what was going on inside her head.

The MRI process was not pleasant, but went fairly well. Afterwards, the MRI tech said , "Thanks, you'll be hearing from your doctor in a few days". That message did not linger long. Within minutes, the tech tracked Jodi down with more news. "The radiologist is looking at your scans and he sees a little something. Would you be able to stay and do another scan so he can get a better look?" She pulled Jodi back into the room and pulled up the computer images. "Here is what he is looking at, a little "spot" outside the right auditory canal." Clearly, something was there.

An IV was started and contrast dye was inserted into her veins, which would help illuminate the "spot" on future scans. 30 more minutes in the waiting room and Jodi was back in the MRI. This time, she knew something was really there. Jodi says there is part of her that wasn't surprised at all. She was actually calm during the MRI, even knowing they had found something. Her initial thoughts were, "Of course they found something. I knew something was wrong. Now we can fix it."

Upon exiting the MRI for the 2nd time, the process was much different. The tech, Kim, told Jodi immediately, "There is definitely something there. Go home and call your doctor immediately."

A long drive home alone.

When Jodi arrived home, Tolan poked his head into the garage, getting ready to leave to go to work, after having stayed home with the kids during Jodi's appointment. A simple "How did it go" quickly turned more serious. Jodi explained to Tolan that a spot had been found. One spot. That was all they knew, but it didn't sound good.

Emotions began to roll and life changed in an instant.

Calls to the doctor resulted in futile hours of waiting. The initial call from the doctor was one of those moments frozen in time, "Mrs. Brown, I just don't know what to say..." followed by the "facts" that it appeared to be a tumor of some sort, growing near her brain stem and right auditory canal, close to the 7th and 8th cranial nerves. Jodi jotted down all the medical lingo as best she could then waited again for the office to call back with the "what now"?

Jodi called one friend just to have someone to talk to while she waited. But it still seemed so unreal. How do you wake up one day and find out you have a brain tumor? What do you do with yourself? How can you even try to be normal? What is normal? What do you do? How do you act? Can you even walk outside your house again? What does it all mean? What does this mean for the rest of life?

The emotional rollercoaster started to set in after the initial shock wore off. Words cannot suffice.

By the end of the day, the next step was set for an appointment with a neurosurgeon the following Monday, and the rest of the Easter weekend would be spent waiting.

Health History Leading to the Discovery of the Tumor

Jodi's battle with a brain tumor started in about November 2008. She began having bad headaches, that at times, would become debilitating. She had never suffered with headaches or migraines and wondered what could be causing these bad spells. After weeks of trying to ignore them or work through the pain, she eventually went to a doctor to get some help. Through a series of in-office exams and routines checks, they felt she was having chronic tension headaches that manifested themselves through a variety of different kinds of headaches. Treatment, at that time, was simply through OTC medicines that could provide temporary relief for the pain.

Within a short period of time, Jodi then started experiencing dizzy spells. At first, these were annoying, but they quickly made life more difficult to manage. Dizziness gave way to vertigo and her whole world started spinning. After talking to a neighbor with similar symptons, she went back to the doctor and came out with a diagnosis of an inner ear infection that was impairing balance and motor function because of the vertigo. A variety of Google searches confirmed this theory, so Jodi had to "wait it out" for the 2-weeks to 3 months it would take for these spells to go away.

Though the symptoms varied a bit from time to time, neither the headaches or the dizziness ever left. On good days, she was still able to function "normally" from the worlds' perspective. Most friends, neighbors and family members didn't even know of her symptoms, but she slowly started changing her habits to accommodate for her new weaknesses. She stopped running as part of her exercise routine because she got too dizzy. She started holding on to walls and rails as she walked down halls, and simply tried to be more protective of herself.

After months of unending symptoms, Tolan convinced Jodi it was time to again visit the doctor. This time, she was would not be content until an answer was found. That visit in March resulted in a variety of family history information, follow-up tests and some blood work.

The previous days and weeks had gotten progressively worse. On a "bad day", she was hardly able to walk down the hall or even think clearly. She didn't feel safe driving her car and had other people drive her around if her head was spinning. She was at the point where she recognized something needed to be done, and fast.

When a nurse from the clinic called to give Jodi the "A-Ok" results from her blood tests, Jodi knew they couldn't stop there. Something was really wrong and they had to find an answer. She pressed the nurse to find out the next step. The doctor recommended an MRI at McKay-Dee Hospital. A routine MRI was scheduled for 2 weeks later.

Within hours, Jodi knew she couldn't wait, not even 2 more weeks for the test. She was having a very bad day and couldn't even walk a straight line. So, she took matters into her own hands and called the hospital. She spoke with "Nancy" in radiology and begged for an earlier appointment for the MRI. Nancy worked her in, for the very next day, April 10, 2009, at 8am.