Learning to live after a brain tumor at a young age

April 4, 2013 10:13:31 AM PDT
Eight years ago, at the age of 26, a young woman was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Now she is a mother of a 5-year-old and she is well and active thanks to the support from a non-profit organization.

Information from the American Brain Tumors Association encouraged 35-year-old Juliana Schafer to look at her options for dealing with disability.

"When I was diagnosed in 2004 I went through two years of chemo and it reduced the tumor size to half but I still have the tumor presently that is not causing any problems," Schafer said.

It all started when she woke up the day after Thanksgiving with a migraine.

"I went into the ER because I had horrible head pains and they did a CAT scan just to make sure there was nothing else wrong with me and found a large mass," she said.

ABTA President and CEO Elizabeth Wilson says education and public awareness is essential.

"There are so many people that when they learn the diagnosis for the first time they 're in shock they're confused they're afraid and may time they begin to think in terms of getting effects in order but increasingly with advances in research and treatment the ABTA also fund we're seeing an increasing number of survivors," Wilson said.

Schafer learned about ABTA at the hospital.

"Then of course went on the website right away to get all the information that I could about my type of brain tumor and about you know treatment options," she said.

The organization is a great resource for patients, according to Wilson.

"One of the things we found with brain tumor patients and caregivers is that they're looking connect with people who are living under similar circumstances so the ABTA is a resource for them to connect with others," Wilson said.

In addition to being a wife and mother, Schafer stays active.

"I've done the 5k for the ABTA the last 8 years," she said.

Schafer says she still gets migraine headaches but they are not related to the tumor. She also goes in for MRI every six months.

For more information, visit www.abta.org.