Phillips’ brain tumor inspires ‘Going Gray’ effort

Published 3:00 am Thursday, May 26, 2016

Mara Phillips battle against brain turmors inspired her co-workers’ “Going Gray” campaign during the month of May.

Mara Phillips battle against brain tumors inspired her co-workers’ “Going Gray” campaign during the month of May.

Mara Phillips has had pseudotumor cerebri for 16 years. It was only diagnosed two years ago. Today, Phillips is facing a brain surgery from which she could not awaken or during which she might wake up.

“If the tumor had been found sooner, it could have been treated and I might not have had to have surgery at all,” Phillips said. “My condition had been misdiagnosed for years. It took a brain surgeon to find the tumor.”

When Phillips was in sixth grade she began having “migraine  headaches” and suffered with them throughout high school and on into young adulthood. At age 24, Phillips was diagnosed with pseudotumor cerebri.

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“What that means is that it acts like a brain tumor but there’s no mass,” Phillips said. “Cerebral fluid collects in greater amounts than normal and causes pressure. That pressure can cause swelling of the optic nerve and cause you to lose your vision.”

To reduce the pressure from the collecting cerebral fluid, Phillips has to have the fluid drawn off every three weeks.

The spinal taps reduce the amount of fluid temporarily. But surgery is necessary to reduce the volume of fluid long-term.

“After all those years, I finally knew what was wrong with me but the surgery that I need is still a year away,” Phillips said. There are risks involved whether she has the surgery or not.

“I could lose my eyesight but I’m at a higher risk not to have the surgery,” she said. “I’m scared but I have hope. With the surgery, there’s  no guarantee but the risks are greater not doing the surgery than the risks of doing it.” Phillips paused.  “I have the cutest kids, ages three and five …” Her voice trailed off but quickly picked up as she talked about the need for greater awareness of brain tumors and the need for greater support of that area of research.

Phillips works at Pike County Ford and she initiated a “Going Gray” campaign in support of Brain Tumor Awareness Month, which is May. “I went to my boss and asked about beginning a brain tumor awareness campaign here at Pike County Ford,” Phillips said “I told him it’s good to care about everything. It’s good to care about cancer and heart disease, but what about those of us who are suffering with brain tumors?”

Given the go-head, Phillips went home and surfed the Internet and ordered “Going Gray” pins and wristbands for all employees of Pike County Ford and for family members and friends.

“We’ve been ‘Going Gray’ all month long and I hope we are raising awareness of brain tumors,” Phillips said. “At Pike County Ford, gray is our color. It says ‘What about brain tumors? What about us?’”