Amazed, thankful and healthy. One year!

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Amazed, thankful and healthy!

These are the first three words that come into my mind when I think about where I was on this day, one year ago. I was preparing for what could possibly be one of the greatest trials of my entire life, brain surgery. Little did I know the road that was ahead of me. A road filled with plenty of bad days as well as good days, many lessons learned and a constant reminder to never take a single day for granted.

As I sit writing this blog, at a loss for words and (happy) teary eyes, I cannot help but be overwhelmed when reflecting back on this time just a year ago. Learning to walk and talk again, trying to understand why God chose me to take this journey and leaning upon Him, my precious family and close friends more than ever before.

Amazed. Looking back to July 18th, 2013, if you would have told me that in twelve months I would be a healthy and happy twenty year old, pursuing her lifelong dream of reporting by interning at a station in Texas, I would have laughed. Now, as this is my reality, I am continually amazed at the power of our God. He heard every prayer, wiped away every tear and continued to prove that His plans are greater than any we could make for ourselves.

Thankful. There is not a day that passes by that I do not thank God for everyone who has been by my side during this entire journey. God knew exactly what He was doing when He blessed me with two of the most caring, patient and loving parents on the face of this Earth. I am eternally grateful for their love and support in not only this process, but every other one in my life. I always known that I was very blessed with sweet friends but continually throughout my recovery they reminded me just how lucky I really am. I love each of you so, so much.

Healthy. I can truly say that this surgery gave me my life back. The continuous headache at the bridge of my nose, blacking out spells and unexplained exhaustion are all gone! Twelve months is the full recovery period and the only symptom I still have is mild and occasional visual disturbances, which will continue to improve and eventually go away.

Never in a million years would I have guessed that the Lord could take something so challenging and turn it into a powerful lesson and blessing. It is because of this blog that I have had the opportunity to share my story with 30,000+ people from 50 different countries. I continue to pray that this blog brings hope and answers to those suffering with the same symptoms I was before surgery.

To EVERYONE who has lifted me and my family up in prayer over this past year, sent me an uplifting message or came to visit me: thank you! The power of prayer is one of the greatest blessings! I could never put into words how much each prayer during this time will always means to me.

So what is next for me? After finishing up my internship here in West Texas I will head back to sweet home Alabama and then head back to Tuscaloosa. I will return to the University of Alabama in the Fall for my junior year. I am excited to see what is in store for my next year at the Capstone.

I will continue to update my blog every few months! Always remember that the easiest way to contact me with questions about my experience with a pineal gland cystic tumor is by email. My email address is aemontgomery1@crimson.ua.edu!

If my story has impacted the life of just one person, this journey was worth every second. Until next time…

Anna

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It is not uncommon for me to get the question, “What does your hair look like where the incision was made?” Here is a picture twelve months post-op! You can hardly see the incision and my hair is growing fast.

Here are a few pictures from my internship so far! I am loving every minute of it.
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MONTHS 10 & 11

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As I have said in the past, no blog post usually is a good thing! Lots of great things have happened since I last updated.

First, I finished off my sophomore year with a 3.99 overall GPA despite the challenges I have faced since surgery. When I started my online classes last Fall (two months post op), I was afraid my memory and reading skills would never be the same. As He promises, time allowed me to regain all of these things and end the year on a high note!

Since classes wrapped up, I decided to stay an extra month in Tuscaloosa to take an interim course. This is a class that usually would be taken over the course of a semester but instead is packed into three weeks! I loved the class and am now slightly ahead of my scheduled graduation!

I took advantage of a week off before undergoing a tonsillectomy. The tonsillectomy was scheduled for last summer but of course, I was too sick with the pineal cyst to undergo that procedure. I am happy to say the recovery from this has been a breeze!

I will be leaving for Texas soon for my internship and I could not be more excited! I cannot wait to see what God has in store for me out in the Lonestar state as I work with covering Texas Tech football.

It blows my mind to think it has been eleven months since surgery. Not much has changed in my recovery since I last updated! I am doing wonderful. One of the greatest things has been working out. Before surgery, I would get extremely weak and nauseated while working out. Now I am able to complete a workout and feel great afterwards! My vision is still slightly disturbed at times but continues to improve.

I continue to receive emails from people all over the world suffering with the same symptoms I did before surgery. It is my prayer that this blog is helpful to those who are hurting and need answers. Feel free to email me at aemontgomery1@crimson.ua.edu!

I have included some pictures from the past few exciting months!

Much love,

Anna

And he said, the things which are impossible with men are possible with God.
–Luke 18:27

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Last event with sorority sisters before summer!

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Loved going back to watch Bailey be crowned into the Miss Teen Alabama sisterhood.

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So lucky to have met these three incredible women at our Birmingham Magazine’s Most Beautiful People Photoshoot!

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I had so much fun being a judge at the Inaugural Tuscaloosa Bark in the Park Event!

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Honored, humbled and blessed to be on the cover of Birmingham Magazine’s Most Beautiful People Issue. Out on stands now!

NINE MONTHS

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And just like that another month has f l o w n by! The semester is coming to a close and I cannot help but look back and think about the progress that has been made. In fact, last Easter I missed out on the anticipated family activities due to a debilitating headache, which we now know was because of the pineal gland tumor. This Easter has been so wonderful to spend with my precious and healthy family!

When I last wrote I was about to take on Spring Break! My Spring Break was a blast! I spent most of my time in West Texas preparing for my summer internship at KLBK News. I cannot wait to spend part of my summer there! The entire crew is so welcoming. I even came home with a few Texas Tech shirts (No worries dad, no matter what school I cover, my heart will always be in the SEC)

Some other exciting things this month have included a fishing trip with my family, judging the University of Alabama’s Miss Black and Gold Pageant, receiving the Landa Endowed Scholarship, interviewing for a spot to work for ESPNU Campus Connection (I GOT IT!!!!) and going back to the Miss Teen Alabama Pageant as a former titleholder. More exciting news, I was nominated as one of Birmingham’s Most Beautiful People. I was so honored! They held an online voting contest and from 120 people, they are now narrowing it down to 20 that will be chosen and featured in Birmingham Magazine. Isn’t God so good?!

The healing process continues to go smoothly. Not many things have changed since my last post, which is a good thing! I continue to be hyper sensitive to light. Direct light into my eyes can cause a terrible migraine because the optic nerve isn’t healed completely just yet. My memory continues to improve with time. Vision still a little disturbed, but primarily just in natural light.

This week is the last full week of classes and next week will be finals. I have a small prayer request! Please pray for my endurance and memory during these last two weeks during these stressful exams. I am so thankful to be healthy and taking finals but still a little nervous!

Oh one last thing… I just want to take a second to remind everyone who has been by my side during this journey how thankful I am for them. Mom, Dad, Emily, grandparents, friends all over the country, sorority sisters, even strangers who drop in to say they’re praying: it is because of your love I am where I am today.

To God be the glory,

Anna Montgomery

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Reading off the teleprompter at KLBK!

 

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Loved getting to be a surprise guest on Trends and Friends!

 

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Won the family rivalry of who could catch the biggest fish on our trip! 6 pound catfish!

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Em and I fishing!

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Incredible sunset from 30,000 feet in the air on my way back to Birmingham!Image

My little and I at the Miss Black and Gold Pageant!Image

Love this girl! So fun getting to go back and be on the other side of the stage at Miss Teen Alabama 2014!

 

8 MONTHS

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I must say this past month has gone by extremely fast! There have been two exciting things that have happened since I last updated you all. First, after a long process, I have received an internship with Crimson Tide Productions. This is a dream come true! I have already started the internship and love it! I will be covering University of Alabama Athletics and working side by side with the new SEC Network this upcoming Fall! Secondly, I received amazing news last week that I have been selected as the 2014 recipient of the Pearle and Julius Talton Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to one student at the Capstone each year that is majoring in something within the College of Communications and Information Sciences. This means so much to me and I am beyond honored!

I recently had the opportunity to shoot with world-renowned photographer, Fadil Berisha. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to shoot with Fadil! Two weeks ago he came to Birmingham and I got to work with his incredible team. It was such an amazing experience!

This week is my Spring Break! Tomorrow I will be flying out of Birmingham and headed to visit where I will be spending most of my summer, Texas! I cannot wait to visit the station I will be interning with this summer! I will be headed back to sweet home Alabama later this week and will spend the rest of my break relaxing with my family.

My symptoms from surgery are almost all gone! The only symptom I still have now is occasionally disturbed vision. Of course, this will be the last symptom to go but it is still much better than before surgery. I have noticed that the disturbed vision usually occurs after focusing on a computer/phone screen for a long time or while driving. No headaches, no brain pressure, no weakness!!! I cannot help but sit back sometimes and reflect on where I was eight months ago. I am forever grateful for this entire journey and all of the lessons I have learned along the way. Sometimes God gives us the steepest valleys, to be reminded that there is nothing we cannot accomplish without Him by our side.

Little reminder to anyone reading the blog with similar symptoms: please feel free to email me at aemontgomery1@crimson.ua.edu!

Much love,

Anna

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Had a blast watching Alabama defeat Auburn in Basketball with my Dad earlier this month!

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Loving my new job at Crimson Tide Productions!

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Fadil Berisha and I!

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Sneak peek at one the photos from the shoot with Fadil!

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Dreams don’t work unless you do!

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Nothing beats a sunny afternoon with sweet friends!

 

 

 

7 months down, 4 to go!

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The progress I have made in seven months is incredible. From learning to walk again in ICU to sitting here working on schoolwork and feeling great. They don’t say the full recovery period is twelve months for nothing. My biggest symptom/frustration right now is with comprehending concepts. Although reading is much easier than right after surgery, I still have a hard time grasping the main concept and usually have to read things several times to fully understand. Memory is still a bit fuzzy at times but continues to improve.

For the first time in a really long time, I got to go for a jog last week! I must admit, it was extremely tough but I did it! It was one of the best feelings to accomplish this run without getting nauseated or a killer, pounding headache like before surgery. When I get discouraged from not being able to do things the way I used to, I have to remind myself that I am still healing and strength comes with time.

The spots in my vision continue to decrease and my energy level gets better with each passing day. I can tell that my pineal gland is starting to slowly work again! (YAY!!!!!) At the end of the day, I am exhausted and ready to go to sleep which is such a great sign. Some nights I have a hard time staying asleep but I am getting around five to seven hours a night!! School is challenging but going good. It feels so great to be back in the swing of things!

I have some exciting news to share! Just two weeks ago I found out that I will be spending my summer in Lubbock, Texas as an intern for KLBK News! I am so thankful for the so many blessings God has given me, especially over the past few months. Each day I stand amazed at the power of the God we serve.

I continue to receive emails each week from people all over the world who are experiencing some of the same symptoms I did prior to surgery. There is no greater feeling than knowing this blog is a blessing to someone else who is in pain. If you are reading this blog and have the same symptoms, please feel free to contact me via email at aemontgomery1@crimson.ua.edu!

Be blessed,

Anna

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Modeling with my sister at the Tuscaloosa Bridal Show!

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Shadowing my little, Halle, for the University of Alabama Football Junior Days!

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Sorority formal!

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Lunch with sweet friends!

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Typical, being goofy!

SIX MONTHS

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This month marks six months since surgery! The full recovery period from surgery is twelve months. I am well on my way to being 100% healthy! I spent most of December at home for the holidays with my family in Birmingham, Alabama.

This Christmas was extremely special to me because there was so much, even more so than usual, to be thankful for. My family continued our Christmas Eve tradition of dinner at Ruth’s Chris and spending time with my grandparents and cousins. Christmas Day was filled with lots and lots of food, gifts and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. I could not have asked for a better Holiday season.

Unfortunately, over the break I caught pneumonia, which was no fun but was easily cured after rest, antibiotics and breathing treatments. Shortly after I caught pneumonia, my mom caught it as well but a much worse case. She ended up at St. Vincent’s Hospital for a few days but is back at home now and feeling much better.

I am back at school ready to start the Spring semester of my Sophomore year at the University of Alabama! Classes start tomorrow and I am just as excited as a little kid before the first day of school. I am taking a full time load filled with great classes and professors!

As far as symptoms go, everything continues to get better with each passing day. My vision, sleep and weakness are my only complaints. Vision is slowly getting better and usually comes when I am focusing hard on something (looking at a phone, computer, driving, etc.) Sleep is like a roller coaster but any night that I get four hours of sleep or more is great! Lastly, weakness is something that is expected but can only get better if I work for it. I make sure that I am including physical activity and errands along with rest in my daily routine. I have no doubt that by twelve months I will be better than ever!

Each week I receive several emails from those who have read my blog and found that they are experiencing the same symptoms I did prior to surgery. I want to encourage anyone suffering from these symptoms to seek answers from their doctor and reach out to those who have been through the same thing. Although pineal cysts are rare, they do happen! Take charge of your health and do not allow anyone to tell you to just shake it off or give up! This surgery has given me my life back and for that I am forever grateful.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. -Hebrews 11:1

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Christmas Eve Dinner with my family!

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Night of Christmas parties!

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Momma Elf and Baby Reindeer in the Christmas photo booth!

 

 

FIVE MONTHS

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Next week marks five months since this crazy journey began! I wanted to give everyone a quick update.

I know I have said this many times before, but I want to say how incredibly blessed I am with loved ones who have stood by my side every step of the way. As many of you know, this semester took a different direction and was I forced to take all online classes, even though I was able to move back to Tuscaloosa after 10 weeks post op. When classes began (4 weeks post op), it was very difficult and I wondered if I would be able to participate in classes at all. Reading, comprehension, note taking, lectures, etc. seemed almost impossible in the beginning. I had such a hard time completing sentences and learning to write creatively (one of greatest passions) again. The online classes were very demanding and writing papers were a very important part of my grade. I am beyond thrilled to say that I have finished this crazy semester, overcoming all obstacles, with a 4.0 GPA.

As far as symptoms are concerned, there are almost none!!! My biggest complaint continues to be strength. This is something that can be very frustrating at times but I have to listen to my body and remember that this is a twelve-month full recovery period. My biggest frustration comes from being out of breath while doing small exercises at the gym, but I must remind myself of the bigger picture and praise God for my ability to go to the gym without getting a headache like before surgery.

The small lines in my vision become less and less with each passing day. The tumor/surgery related headaches are nonexistent. The constant fatigue is no more! I finally have my life back after several years of suffering and never knowing the cause!

Unfortunately, sleep is non existent no matter how exhausted I am or what time of day/night it is, I cannot fall asleep for longer than 1-2 hours. Some nights I’m lucky and I get 4 hours. My body craves rest so we continue to work with the Melatonin dosage in hopes it will eventually help.

Most recently, I have heard from five other people from all across the world that are experiencing some of the same symptoms I did before surgery. Nothing makes me happier than knowing this blog is of some help to others who are suffering.

It is my hope and prayer that everyone counts each of their blessings, big and small, this holiday season. I know I have so much to be thankful for. :)

Much love,
Anna

I loved getting to celebrate my 20th Birthday with friends and family!ImageImage
Alpha Gamma Delta Christmas PartyImage

Birthday Dinner with sweet friends!Image