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Conversations about Cancer: Living with a brain tumor

Catherine Heidel has lived with a non-operable brain tumor for more than 10 years.
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 11:23 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Catherine Heidel has lived with a non-operable brain tumor for more than 10 years.

“Honestly, I really had no idea what they were talking about because my thoughts were… you’ll just take it out right? I had no clue of what my diagnosis would end up being,” says Catherine. Catherine is one of an estimated 700,000 Americans living with a brain tumor.  This year another 88,000 will be diagnosed. May is “brain cancer awareness” month, and Catherine wants to bring more awareness to it.

“I have and am terrible at pronouncing it…Oligodendroglioma. Basically, my tumor is a slow growing tumor, but it cannot be removed, so it’s an inoperable cancerous tumor.”

Despite her diagnosis, and not knowing what the future holds, Catherine says she lives every day to the fullest.  She spends a lot of her time helping others diagnosed with brain cancer.

“Four years in, I decided to go to one of the support groups at Victory in the Valley. When I went to that…at my first meeting I sat with some people who had been first diagnosed. It just kind of brought all of that back to me and I think then that’s when I realized that me being four years in and having that experience from diagnosis starting with chemotherapy, going through all of that…gave me some knowledge and I could understand. I felt like just to go to that support group and then start to helping out with it. There was a reason why I went to it, and I just felt like I could help people.”

Here are some other statistics:

  • Approximately 71% of all brain tumors are benign and approximately 29% are malignant. -
  • The five-year survival rate for all malignant brain tumor patients is only 35.6%. An estimated 18,200 people will die from a malignant brain tumor in 2022.
  • Brain tumors are the most common solid cancer in people ages 19 and younger in the United States. Pediatric brain tumors are the leading cause of cancer-related death among children and adolescents ages 19 and younger in the United States.

Here are more resources:

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