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

F O U R MONTHS!

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I am just three days shy of four month post-op and things could not be going any better! Each day I continue to gain strength and see improvement. I can honestly say I have not felt this good in almost two years. (Praise God!)

My strength is something I gain back with each passing day. I went to the gym for a small workout last week and it went great! No headache like prior to surgery when doing physical activity.

My visual disturbances are becoming less frequent. I have noticed that I only see the small “worm” lines when I am in natural daylight. This symptom could take up to twelve months to disappear but it is already better than before surgery.

My only frustration lately has been from lack of sleep. I cannot seem to sleep for more than one to two hours at a time. I become physically exhausted from a long day but have such a hard time falling and staying asleep. I am hoping that this will get better very soon!

As far as my personal life goes, everything has been wonderful! It feels so great to be getting back into my normal routine of being a busy bee. Most recently, I have launched a non-profit organization that I founded in 2010, Cleaning Out Closets for Childhood Cancer at the University of Alabama. To learn more about CC4CC and how you can help, visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Closets4Cancer!

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and I hope that everyone is reminded of how blessed they are to be in good health and surrounded with love ones!

Much love,
Anna  

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. -Psalm 107:1

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Supporting my sweet friend, Kelsey Smith, at the premiere of her show on CMT, Sweet Home Alabama!Image

Loved having the opportunity to judge Miss Prattville High with my mom!Image
So much fun being in Bryant-Denny for a big win against LSU!
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Carving pumpkins with my sorority sisters for Halloween!

 

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Nothing like game day at the University of Alabama!

THREE MONTHS

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It is so hard to believe that it has been three months since I was waking up from surgery in California. Today, I am writing this blog from my humble abode in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I apologize for not updating in a while but I have been consumed with schoolwork and social activities. (YAY!!!) Although the road to recovery is not the fastest one, each day I slowly gain more strength and feel the best I have felt in a long time.

As far as symptoms go, everything improves with each passing day. It has become easier to study. Headaches are much less often and less painful than before surgery. Strength grows each day by pushing myself to get out and about! Vision is better, but still has room for improvement. My incision is completely healed! My sleeping is still a little rocky but that will come with time. Overall, there is no doubt in my mind that for the past two years of my life when I was suffering with what I thought was sinus headaches, they were pineal cyst related.

The best advice for anyone who is going through the road to recovery from this surgery is a positive attitude and to set realistic goals for yourself. This past weekend I went to my first Alabama football game of the season! I must admit that I was a bit nervous going into it but it could not have gone any better. I took everything very slow that day and listened to my body. I had a great time and was very exhausted by the end of the day. It feels so good to be slowly getting back to doing the things I love! My goal for the next few weeks is to go to the gym for a light workout for the first time since before surgery!

This journey continues to teach me a new life lesson each day. From patience, appreciation of the small things, and trusting God in the deepest valleys and highest mountains. I cannot thank everyone enough for their continued prayers and support. God is so good!

Much love,
Anna

P.S. Remember if you have any questions about my journey with a pineal gland cystic tumor, feel free to email at aemontgomery1@crimson.ua.edu!

Here are some pictures of what I have been up to lately!!

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Outside Bryant-Denny Stadium with my family! Missing mom in this picture (AKA the photographer)

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So good to be back with my sweet friends!Image
Last week we got our ”littles” in my sorority!!! I love my precious little, Halle!

frands5Recent photo from shoot with Frank Carnaggio!