Odette Pringle had learned to tolerate her headaches but when her vision began to blur, she became concerned. A new pair of reading glasses didn't seem to help, and before long, her eyesight grew so cloudy that the world around her was in a constant shade of grey. She went to an ophthalmologist, who thought the problem might be due to cancer; following an MRI, it was soon discovered that Odette had a benign brain tumor growing out of her pituitary stalk and pressing on her optic nerves. About 80% of the growth was removed surgically and the remainder was treated with radiation therapy five days a week for nearly six weeks.
"It's common to hear the words 'brain tumor' and 'radiation' and start to panic," said Odette, 47. " She added, "I have a seven year old daughter and was busy watching her while I was undergoing treatments. I'm grateful that I felt well enough to still be a mom."
Odette decided to have the tumor treated away from home in Los Angeles, California. She and her daughter took temporary residence nearby while she underwent treatment. "As I would lie still on the treatment table each day, watching the machine rotate around me, I'd often listen to jazz, or some other kind of music I had asked for," said Odette. "I was surprised that within two to three minutes the treatment sessions were complete. Sometimes it may have taken a few minutes longer to setup, but that was it. I thought the treatments would've taken longer."
Odette's brain tumor had been growing intermittently since birth but had begun to press on her optic chiasm and compromise her vision. The headaches that she had endured most of her life were also attributed to the brain tumor. Only a few weeks into her treatments, Odette's vision returned to normal and the headaches began to subside.
"My overall experience was rough at times, but receiving radiotherapy wasn't bad at all. I tried to make the most of it with my daughter by going to movies, riding bikes at the beach and visiting friends each day when my sessions were through. It's been important to stay positive for myself and my family."
Varian would like to thank the Center for Radiation Therapy in Beverly Hills, CA for their assistance in the preparation of this story.