After weeks of daily migraines, Lauren Pace from @xolaurenpace went in for an MRI.
Brain mass. Brain surgery.
Her strength and grit is inspiring to say the least. She shows the good and the ugly and has had such a positive outlook on her situation. Her story is full of trust and faith. Below are excerpts from her Instagram account:
”I had a migraine every single day for two months. And even when I could get the pain to subside, the brain fog was overwhelming.
I have called this brain fog — mom brain or pregnancy brain. Who knows for years it could’ve been Earl just lurking up there.
Yesterday as I was working and cramming my brain full of information, old blogs, sorting through some pretty amazing articles and sources that I’ve worked on— I’m just amazed.
Amazed that my brain was able to finish my thesis with a bleeding mass. That I was able to graduate with my masters while also raising two kids. Working, projects.
My body took a big hit this year with the mass, it’s issues and the issues that are being resolved as I recover. But I keep pushing through. I keep fighting to get out of bed soon, exercise my muscles.
Pretty much growth can only happen outside out comfort zone. Was it easier to lay in bed with my migraine? Yes. Did that benefit my family? No. So when Maelie cried after nap— I HAD to get up. It’s always easier to take the other route.
I just have this impression to say - God doesn’t give us ailments so we can Netflix and chill for weeks. He wants us to rest and re-prioritize. But He also wants to push us further physically, emotionally and spiritually then we’ve ever gone before. I like the go go go. I like filling my time with my family, friends and work. When that luxury of time was filled with pain— my comfort zone went again and I had to PUSH through.
2020 is gonna bring its own set of challenges to me and to my family and friends. And like I said a few days ago, this is God’s way of building us into the person, wife, friend and parent we need to be. 🖤
There's been something that's been weighing heavily on my mind. Literally. (This is my new joke—I just can’t be so serious all the time)
I wasn’t going to share til I knew what this was. But I need your prayers, good vibes and distraction. NOW.
When I went for my precautionary MRI last Tuesday I got results I was not expecting, they found a mass, bleeding, old blood and swelling. I don't know what it is, my PCP doesn't know exactly what it is and the neurosurgeon may not even know yet. It could be so many things, one of them a tumor.
All I know for sure is this: This 1.1 cm mass is not normal (see it lit up). There is 6.5x5.3cm of swelling. And there is bleeding.
It is causing my migraines, blurry vision, low energy probably.
I've been hard on myself the last 8 weeks with headaches because "I have a headache" when a friend asks me to go out seems like such a cop-out. My patience has been shortened, I am not the mom I want to be all the time... and that hurts me. I've let my house get messy days at a time. I have to take naps in the middle of the day. Or just lay on the floor while the kids play. This whole time I've been pushing through a brain mass. A freakin' brain mass and swelling.
I'm very anxious. I don't get ANY more information until next Thursday. This is literally all we know. I have hope that this will be a good prognosis. The journey to get there might be very painful and hard, on me, my husband, my kids, my family & my friends. But I have so many amazing people in my corner. The kindness that has been shown already as I deal with this news strengthens me more than you know.
When I kept having migraines for 7 weeks. Me and my family all agreed I should get a scan just to rule things out. My amazing dr thought so too. And it was scheduled. We were not expecting to find a mass.
And definitely not expecting to go 9 more days without answers. I’ve been unofficially told it’s brain cancer, it’s a tumor, it’s a blood vessel situation (with fancy names). In my head I have been trying to stay positive. But some nights I think about recovering from a brain surgery while my kids grow up in front of my eyes. 3 months is a lot of growth and development in a little toddler.
I’m silly mom. Fun mom. Playful mom. Snuggly mom. Do everything with my family mom. Sitting in my bed watching it. It’s overwhelming. And even though it might be what’s best for me. Trying to take this all in this week has been exhausting.
That’s without the thought of chemo, radiation, letting it grow and waiting.
Literally so many options, opinions, possibilities.
And did I mention it’s in the brain— so personality changes, memory loss.
Ugh you see where this is going. Anxiety and this mysterious mass is a dark hole. Nights are the worst.
But this morning I started out telling Charlie I have an owie in my head that needs to get better. He gave it a big wet kiss. Snuggled me til I was ready to get up. And we spent the day doing things we love like a normal day. I went out with friends and danced for hours. At one moment I looked around the room and saw people living, smiling. We didn’t know who had cancer, broken bones, broken hearts... We were there in that moment. Scares like this really make you think about your priorities and your blessings. And just LIVE.
This is the scariest week of my life. But I’ve also really felt strengthened & loved & that feeling of support is going to sustain me no matter what the diagnosis.
10/9 Journal Excerpt:
"I’ve cried a lot. Thinking about the possibility of what it is. The healing that is to come. And mostly the worry for what it’ll do to my role of being a wife & mother to my young kids." ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
"I haven’t been showing up 100% and that’s been hard for me. Well, I’ve been walking around with a brain mass. So now it’s time to embrace it head-on — haha get it"
"Wow. I don’t know what to say. The anxiety, fear." ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
"Even though it’s all been incredibly hard— there have already been some sacred moments and experiences."⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
"I don’t know why this is happening, but the timing of it seems very purposeful."⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
First, I can't even help myself from cracking jokes to deal with this... IN MY JOURNAL & that makes me LOL.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Second, I wrote this after I came out of the temple. The rest of what I wrote were impressions, warmth, love & peace that I felt in the midst of one of the hardest things my family has had to process. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Two verses of scripture I read inside: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
D&C 25:4 Murmur not because of the things which thou hast not seen, for they are withheld from thee and from the world, which is wisdom in me in a time to come.
10 And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better.
The prophet had just told us at #generalconference to study D&C 25 to learn how to access the power of God in our lives.
On this particular day, these verses stood out to me. The Lord has a hand in all things. And even though I don't know WHY this brain mass/swelling is there or even what the heck it is. I know that the Lord has prepared me for this. I know that blessings will come from this. They already have. And as I have really prioritized my life -- taking work off my plate, saying no, putting friends, family, date nights FIRST -- I have had some really special moments. I feel so much love. God is good.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I'm out of allotted words, but I have plenty more thoughts to come.
Yesterday was hard for me. PHYSICALLY.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The ibuprofen masked the head throbbing, but the exhaustion was beyond real. In bed off and on all day. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I got into another neurosurgeon at Huntsman Cancer (this word TERRIFIES me) Institute for next week for two opinions. I asked the MA if he said if it was a tumor or what... She replied, "he said this is a weird one."⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I'm like, no, "I'm talking about the mass, not me" JK. Clearly the mass knows its living inside a crazy girl.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
But the amazing thing is, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday -- the anxiety has been gone. Waiting 9 days to find out if you have cancer, a brain tumor... a blood vessel situation... a plan for brain surgery. That's scary, IDC who you ask. BUT, regardless. I have been filled with so much peace. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Why? Because of GOD and YOU. Your fasting and prayers has filled my heart and soul. YOUR FAITH is sustaining me. No matter how big or small you feel your faith is... you have asked GOD to show up for me. And he has, with angels from heaven and earth. ⠀⠀
“...it’s not about having strong faith. It’s about having faith in a strong God.” -Multiply Goodness Account
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I can and you can too. ONE MORE DAY & we get the first opinion at what this sucker is.
I know God has a plan for me.
I believe strongly that I am going to be ok.
But that doesn’t mean the process to getting better is going to be easy.
It doesn’t mean I don’t cry and cry and cry some nights just overwhelmed with the healing process, and mostly what that is going to feel like and look like for my babies.
Some moments this doesn’t even feel real. I just had headaches. And now I’m looking into the road ahead of repeat MRIs, seizures, brain surgery.
A friend sent me this song by @jjhellermusic:
“Is there a way to rewrite the story?
Is there a way to stop a slow motion emergency?
In the unknown
You are not alone”
I truly feel a part of a slow motion emergency. But I know I’m not alone. I guess my point is. You can be super strong in your faith. You can be super strong in knowing God has a plan for you. You can be super strong with dealing with hard news... but it doesn’t mean you don’t get to fall apart. It doesn’t mean you don’t get to cry yourself to sleep.
I cry in gratitude for my beautiful life & in grief for Earl (mass) coming in and changing things.
The Lord is refining me and I will come out of this STRONGER. But, I can also be sad, worried & grieve.
These feelings of sadness and anxiety and love, help me prioritize what’s most important and make decisions & hug my family tighter and tighter. 💔❤️ hug your family tight.
Cry if you had a hard day.
It doesn’t make you ungrateful or unfaithful, it means you feel pain.
You are strong, even if you need to fall apart sometimes.
Being vulnerable changes us.
This last week I have felt better physically than I had the 8 weeks previous. There were even THREE times in those 8 weeks I would've gone to the ER probably, but I didn't want to get out of bed... and thought of moving made me more nauseous. Crying, 3 different drugs spaced every 3 hours. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
NOT. A. MIGRAINE. nope, brain bleeding... and swelling... UGH.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Two differences from this last week and the EIGHT before.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
1. I have been told that there is a really abnormal/interesting/weird mass in my BRAIN⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
... you'd think I'd feel worse, now that it's not just a bad headache... now that you know I know I have a 6.5cm circle of swollen brain matter and blood in my brain....⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
But that's where #2 is the real kicker in all of this:
2. I have told YOU that information -- and thousands of you are praying for me by name. handfuls of you bringing me meals, putting my name in the temple, sending me care packages. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I hope you know. You stopping and praying for ME by name... is physically and emotionally CARRYING me through this.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I'm so glad I opened up even though so much of this is unknown and I don't know my treatment plan. I could've completely gone under the radar on this but was given a priesthood blessing... telling me I would CONNECT with people through this. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Opening up. Accepting help. Hearing your stories. Crying with you. This is changing me. Only five hands are shown in this print, but THOUSANDS of hands are holding me up.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
When I was in college, I had a whiteboard above my bed that had my schedule for the week and to-dos. Above the lists, I had a "mantra" to live by. I needed it as much then, as I do now.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
"Are you counting your days or making them count?"⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I didn't realize how much this thought process would serve me in so many trials/circumstances later to come.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Instead of waiting to find a bf, a husband. Or waiting to graduate. Waiting for Summer, vacations, weddings. Waiting for the weekend. Waiting to get pregnant. Waiting to have the baby. Waiting for the migraines to go away. Waiting for the dr visit or brain surgery or what have you.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Make all the days count.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Make the sick days count.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Make the painful days count.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Make the last two weeks of pregnancy count.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Make the week waiting to find out what the mass in your brain is COUNT.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
There are joyful and painful parts of all our journeys. We can't wait for our circumstances to change to find joy even in our most painful season. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Russell M. Nelson -⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Believe me, sadness hits me lately like a bag of rocks. There's a lot going on in my life (and the brain mass was the big fat cherry on top). But, I am trying my very best to make all my days count. Even if its snuggles in my bed and a few extra "I love you's."⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
For more on Lauren’s story, please check out her Instagram page @xolaurenpace
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