My brain tumor story: From caregiver to patient

As a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Puerto Rico, I always tell my patients that in any situation, no matter how hard or difficult it is, there’s always something positive that we can learn. Now, I know how true this statement really is. I learned this first-hand when I started dealing with brain tumors in the summer of 2014 — first as a relative, then as a friend and finally, as a patient myself. Along the way, I developed more compassion for my own patients and learned the value of a good support system. Here’s my story. My father-in-law’s brain tumor On July 23, 2014, our family received the devastating news that my father-in-law had a brain tumor. It was glioblastoma, a very aggressive type of brain cancer. His neurosurgeon told us that because of the tumor’s location, it was too dangerous to perform surgery in Puerto Rico. He referred us to MD Anderson’s Sujit Prabhu, M.D., for a second opinion. Less than 24 hours after we reached out, Dr. Prabhu responded. We made an appointment with him and arrived at MD Anderson’s Brain and Spine Center two weeks later. My father-in-law was scheduled for surgery right away. His craniotomy took place in the BrainSuite®, a special operating room with an integrated MRI, something not all hospitals have. Dr. Prabhu and his team were able to remove most of the tumor, giving my father-in-law a chance to live longer with better quality of life. We were so happy with the surgery that I told my husband, “If I ever get something in my head, I want Dr. Prabhu to...