Nearly one year after Johanna's third brain surgery, her tumor has once again returned. Following her September 20, 2011 surgery, Johanna returned to Bend, OR. Because Johanna's tumor is a unique grade four glioma, it was considered likely to return, and therefore Johanna immediately began a daily low-dose regimen of chemotherapy (Temodar). The duration of the treatment was expected to be one year or more. This treatment plan kept the tumor from growing. However, afer six months of daily chemotherapy, Johanna's blood counts dropped to dangerously low levels and she had to stop therapy until her bone marrow could recover.
After several months, her counts were still too low to begin treatment. Unfortunately during this laps in treatment the tumor began to grow almost immediately. Mid July 2012 a MRI showed evidence of tumor growth. Another scan four weeks later showed the tumor had doubled in size.
With the new growth, Johanna has started having symptoms ranging from difficulty with simple math, loss of time sensation, visual disurbances, and reading comprehension. These symptoms come and go throughout the day. Johanna began a new treatment in August. She is taking Avastin, a drug that blocks the growth of new blood vessels which hopefully starves the tumor of its food supply. Every two weeks she receives an infusion and will continue indefinitely if the treatment works. A MRI at the end of September will indicate if Avastin is working. Lets hope that it does!
Because Johanna's brain isn't working correctly Johanna was not able to return to work at Central Oregon Community College this fall. Fortunately even though her brain isn't always working, her legs still are and she has been able to keep running for fun.
"15 years ago I could never have imagined that I would have had 3 brain surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy and now another tumor. But here I am! Through these experiences, I hope that I have become a better person, helped others along the way, and that I continue to embrace the wonderful life that I have been given. The support I have, and continue to receive, inspires me each day! Thank you"
- Johanna Olson