Brain Cancer Survivors Show Strength Through Struggles

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It sets in quickly and turns lives upside down — brain tumors are considered among the toughest cancers to treat.

May is Brain Cancer Awareness Month and a North Texas woman who knows the battle firsthand is among those hoping to educate the public.

“You can’t live without your brain, but you can live without breasts,” explained Christina Bader.

Bader has a lighter way of seeing it now, but she was stunned when doctors told her she had a brain tumor in 2010. Then she had more fear and trepidation last year when doctors gave the diagnosis again.

“It is one of the most difficult things you would ever have to go through,” she said.

The first tumor was atypical, one stage from cancer, and the other benign. But treatment has had a lifelong impact on Bader. She says she has a lot of memory issues. In the middle of a conversation she paused and looked a bit bewildered because she lost her train of thought. “You see I just lost where I was going.”

Even Bader’s most fond memories of serving our country during Desert Storm would be forgotten if it weren’t for pictures.

Unlike with other forms of cancer, surgery is the most common treatment for brain tumors.

Doctor Atif Haque is a neurosurgeon with Fort Worth’s Brain and Spine Institute. He said, “We diagnose it and try to control it. Again, cure is not something that is realistic in most patients.”

According to doctors, it’s the location of brain tumors that makes treatment difficult. Dr. Haque put it this way. “So even if we take out everything that looks abnormal we know that tissue that is distant from the part that looks abnormal in an MRI scan can still contain cancer cells.”

Those issues are exactly why Bader fears another re-occurrence with brain cancer might take her away from her family and young grandchildren. Mostly not knowing that I am going to be here to see them grow up and worrying that it’s going to come back again.”

According to the National Brain Tumor Society, there are nearly 700,000 people in the United States today that are living with a primary brain tumor.

Click here to find out more about brain tumors and Brain Tumor Awareness Month.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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