Astrocytoma survivor: I feel lucky

How often does a brain tumor save your life? In Kellilyn Monar’s case, it may have done just that. She’d planned to be at the Route 91 Music Harvest Festival in her hometown of Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017. But a brain tumor diagnosis interrupted those plans. “I go every year, but because my surgery was scheduled that week, I called to get a refund on my tickets,” she says. When the concert became the site of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, Kellilyn was safely at home, preparing to travel to Houston for her brain tumor surgery. “In a way, MD Anderson may have saved my life twice,” she says. Simple seizure: an early brain tumor symptom Kellilyn had learned she had a brain tumor two months earlier. She didn’t know the episodes of numbness that traveled up her right leg to her face were simple motor seizures. She thought they were spasms from the back pain that had been growing worse for several months. “One day I was getting onto the elevator with my boss, and it happened again,” Kellilyn recalls. “He said, ‘That’s not your back, that’s your head. You need to go to the hospital.’” He turned out to be right: an MRI in the emergency room revealed Kellilyn had a large tumor in the left frontal and temporal lobes of her brain. She had her biopsy in Las Vegas, and learned it was a grade II astrocytoma. But Kellilyn wasn’t comfortable moving forward with further treatment at her local hospital. “They recommended radiation and chemotherapy to treat the tumor, but also said...