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1

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

:

Brain Cancer – Gliomas, Version 1.2016

Melanie

In January 2015, I was 33 years old, married to

the love of my life, and mother to our precious

son. Everything changed when my husband

found me in our bed mid-seizure. Arriving at the

ER, we were flooded with questions—Have you

ever had a seizure before? Any changes to your

vision, seeing spots? Any headaches?—to all

of which the answer was no. After a blood draw

and a CT scan, the doctor uttered those dreadful

words, “your blood work returned normal, but

the scan showed a mass on your brain.” As an

NCCN employee, I knew

what those words meant—

the possibility of brain

cancer. I was transferred to

a hospital that specialized in

neurological procedures.

The first step of my treatment

was surgery. Later at my

follow up, we would learn

that I received a subtotal

resection. The piece of tumor remaining was

less than 5% of the whole tumor. Side effects

were pretty significant—the biggest being slow/

slurred speech. Cognitively, I knew what I wanted

to say but the brain-to-mouth connection was

not working. Walking and writing were difficult

for several weeks post-surgery, but with physical

therapy at home, my ability to walk and write

returned. My follow-up was 2 weeks post-seizure

and the diagnosis was Anaplastic Astrocytoma

Low Grade III Brain Cancer (malignant). A wave

of shock hit me. How could this happen? Is it

hereditary? How long will I have to live?! My main

focus was how do we fight this horrible monster

that invaded my body? The answer was radiation

therapy.

Before the process of radiation began, my family

and I decided a second opinion was a must.

After a suggestion from another physician, we

went to another specialist, who recommended

radiation therapy with chemotherapy. Dealing

with side effects was difficult. But every time my

husband placed a kiss on my bald head, my son

showed his glowing smile, the strength to fight

grew stronger. My goal was to push through all

the treatment and I achieved it!

Now after almost 2 years,

my 3-month MRIs have not

changed since my surgery,

meaning zero growth! Fear

was the hardest emotion

to cut through, but with the

support from many loved

ones, I’m still here. Every

moment with my son and

husband are the blessings

that will continue to help me.

I BEAT BRAIN CANCER!

I hope my story and this guide help you through

your journey. The information and resources

this guide has to offer will assist you with

understanding brain cancer, your treatment

process, and help you to communicate with your

doctors.

- Melanie Moletzsky

Anaplastic Astrocytoma Grade III Survivor

National Comprehensive Cancer Network

Project Specialist, Continuing Education