Brain Tumor Awareness Month: Survivor Story

May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month, and one strong cancer survivor is bravely sharing her story of resilience and positivity with our BELLA readers.

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Thank you, Heliana Lisciandra, for sharing and for being an inspiration to so many…

We cannot wrap up May without acknowledging that it’s Brain Tumor Awareness Month as well as National Mental Health Month. I celebrate both because I am a proud 7 year brain cancer survivor (Glioblastoma GBM) currently known as “the worst cancer” among brain surgeons as well as living with bipolar. I do not let that define me in any way, shape or form. Most importantly I am a mother of a 10 year old on the spectrum and a 13 year old. This August my husband Joe & I will celebrate 14 years of marriage. Joe proved his vows to me early in our marriage because he has stayed by my side in sickness and in health also the good, bad and ugly. Life has taught me many valuable lessons like to live every day as your last. You see I have MRIs every 6 months. I have been blessed to having no change in my tumor. In 2014 I did chemotherapy and radiation. This led me to live in a nursing home for almost 2 months. I celebrated my 37th birthday in a conference room surrounded by my parents as well as my in laws and my sons who were only 3 and 5.

Due to the location of my brain tumor it was dangerous to have surgery. I pretty much was a 37 year old child that had to learn how to speak clearly, chew, walk and practice self care like brushing my teeth and wiping myself when I went to the bathroom. My prognosis was 6 months but God had other plans for me. Prior to my diagnosis I was a pharmaceutical sales representative for Pfizer. I have stepped up and taken on the role of CEO of my household which I have to admit wasn’t easy to accept.

Did you know that the survival rate in my age group is 8%? Globally over 241,000 people die each year as a result of brain or nervous system cancer, with GBM being the most common form of the disease. Every year since my diagnosis I fundraise with my team of family and friends for the 5K walk/run for Brain Tumor Awareness. My team, Team Lisciandra has come in 1st place for raising the most amount for research. This year the event is scheduled for Saturday, July 24th at Oak Ridge Park, Clark New Jersey.

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