A woman from South Dakota said she refused to let a brain tumor and surgery prevent her from walking down the aisle.
For about a year, Christina Anderson, 24, from Watertown, experienced severe dizziness after her engagement in December 2017 with Brandon Jensen.
One day in May while she was planning her wedding, the room began to turn. Anderson started vomiting and could not walk straight.
She went to a local hospital and underwent a CT scan. Doctors diagnosed her with a benign tumor the size of a golf ball that pressed on the part of her brain that affected the balance.
Anderson, however, was determined to both undergo surgery and ensure that she herself walked down the aisle on her wedding day.
After just a few months of therapy and resolutely refusing the walker, Anderson made her way – without help – to the altar to marry Brandon Jensen on August 10.
Christina Anderson, 24, from Watertown, South Dakota, suffered from dizziness for about a year. Pictured: Anderson, left and Brandon Jensen on their wedding day
After a day in May in which Anderson experiences a particularly bad spell, she hurried to a local hospital. She was diagnosed with hemangioblastoma, a benign tumor that affects balance and coordination. Pictured: Anderson before the operation, left and after the operation, right
Anderson said that when she first began to experience her dizziness, she thought it was because her blood sugar was low.
“I went to the ER every time I passed out,” she told DailyMail.com. “I did diabetes research and they always came back negative.”
No MRIs or CT scans were ever performed until that day in May when she said she experienced dizziness-like dizziness.
“It took a very, very long time for the doctor to come in,” she said.
“An unusually long time amount of time and I thought, “Uh, something’s wrong and the doctor finally came in and said,” Yyes, so we found a mass in your brain. “”
Anderson was diagnosed with a hemangioblastoma, a benign tumor that can occur in the brain, spinal cord or behind the eye.
The tumors account for approximately two percent of all brain tumors, according to the National center for the promotion of translational sciences.
Symptoms include headache, lack of coordination, loss of balance, nausea and vomiting.
Scientists do not know what causes hemangioblastomas, but believe that it can be caused by a mix of genetic and environmental factors.
Surgery is usually the standard treatment. If a tumor cannot be completely removed by surgery, patients also undergo radiation treatment.
If left untreated, the mass can permanently damage the nerves in the brain, leading to a permanent loss of balance.
The tumor, behind Anderson’s right ear, had a diameter of two centimeters and compressed her brain stem, which regulates breathing, swallowing, heart rate and blood pressure.
Anderson underwent an eight-hour operation five days after her diagnosis was made. She quickly started working on her balance, so she didn’t have to walk down the aisle with a walker. Pictured: Anderson’s surgical scar on the left and a scan of her tumor on the right
On August 10, she stunnedly walked into Crocs, walked down the aisle herself and married Brandon Jensen. Pictured: Anderson, left and Jensen on their wedding day
She said her father brought her to the Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, Minnesota, where doctors told her that she needed surgery immediately.
Anderson was determined, despite surgery, to keep the planned date of her upcoming marriage, which was three months away, because everything had already been paid for.
She asked Dr. Manish Sharma, her neurosurgeon at Mayo Clinic Health System, whether she should cut her off before surgery – and he told her she had.
“The only thing that occurred to me was that I didn’t want them to cut my hair,” Anderson said.
On May 7, five days after her diagnosis, Anderson underwent an eight-hour operation.
Anderson’s medical team began to focus on regaining her balance and the 24-year-old was determined not to use the walker on her wedding day.
“I’d crawl down the aisle instead of using the walker,” Anderson said. “They sent me home with it and I kept hiding it. I hid in the bathroom, shoved it into the guest room where nobody looks inside. ”
On August 10, she walked down the aisle in bewildered Crocs to help with her balance and a smart haircut and hairpiece to mask the surgical scar.
Crocs recently contacted Anderson and told her that they want to pay Crocs for the entire bridal party.