Interview with Claire Snyman: My Colloid Cyst Changed My Life

Claire Snyman was diagnosed with a Colloid Cyst when she was 34. She has turned her experience into a book and then went on to start a blog. She has gone on to be a speaker and advocate for patients and a healthcare collaborator.

Claire Snyman from Canada was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour. A Colloid Cyst.

In 2010, Claire Snyman mother of two from Canada was thirty-four when she was diagnosed with a Colloid Cyst. Her diagnosis all came about when she was going to the doctor for vertigo attacks and headaches.

“My first thoughts were of my family. I felt numb. As part of my treatment, I became part of the group of ‘watch and wait’ brain tumour patients around the world who are monitored with yearly MRI scans” – Claire Snyman

Claire talks about how hard it has been having to just wait on regular MRI’s and never being able to just move on. To cope with this she started to raise money for brain tumours and also joined a Facebook group for, individuals with Colloid Cysts. it has really helped her with her journey.

Two years after her diagnosis, Claire’s brain tumour doubled in size, her brain was swollen and she had to have emergency brain surgery.

About 3 months after her brain surgery she had many emotions still and she wanted to put them into a journal. She found it a release and her journal began to get bigger and bigger. 6 months after her diagnosis she started to see a psychologist. At the time her therapist said ‘You should turn your journal to a book’. Claire Snyman’s book ‘Two Steps Forward – Embracing life with a brain tumor’ came about.

In 2013 Claire came onto the Aunty M Brain Tumours ‘Brain Tumour Thursday Radio Show’ to talk about her book.

Here is the podcast interview

Now Six years on I have asked Claire to give us an update on how she is getting on.

Hi Claire, How are you?

They say when one door closes, another door opens! After my surgery, I had to change certain aspects of my life. As a result, I wrote a book and that lead me down many new paths, adventures, meeting new people and ultimately collaborating in the health care environment for better outcomes for patients and health care teams. So, I now work part-time in this area as a consultant, I still write and speak at several events. At the same time, the best part is being a wife and mom at home!

What motivates you?

Being part of making a difference, being part of a team making a difference. For me personally, that means being part of making health care sustainable for the future and inspiring people to put their health in their own hands.

Who is your personal hero or are your heroes?

My personal heroes are my husband and my neurosurgeon, Dr Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa.

What would you say is the most exciting thing you’ve ever done since your diagnosis?

Prepared for and given a TEDx speech in front of 2500 people.

Here is Claire’s video:

The T.E.A.M Approach For Empowering Patients

“Track, Educate, Ask, Manage” – Claire Snyman

What is the toughest challenge survivors face?

Adjusting to the new normal in life both mentally and physically and realizing that this may take a lot longer than you ever anticipated.

Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnosis’s?

  • Breathe, take it one step at a time. Make sure you look for ways to be your body’s own advocate:
  • Track your medical records/tests/appointments,
  • Educate yourself about your new diagnosis,
  • Ask Questions (as many as you need to!) and Manage your health (set objectives for what you would like your health care team to help you achieve).
  • Find a support group to attend – that was critical for me in my patient pathway.

Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know… anything?

I used to trout fish as a child in South Africa where I grew up – I still love being out on the water – nothing like just the river and you (and the fish).


Claire Snyman what an inspiration! it is amazing how Claire has turned a terrible life-changing experience to such a positive outcome.

Keep reading to find out more about Claire on her blog  and connect with Claire on social media: Twitter and Facebook Page

You can also buy a copy of ‘Two Steps Forward’ HERE

Claire Snyman was diagnosed with an in-operable Colloid Cyst, a non-malignant brain tumour when she was 34. She has turned her experience into a book and then went on to start a blog. She has gone on to be a speaker and advocate for patients and a healthcare collaborator.



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