Laken Stout: My Epidermoid Cyst Story

Laken Stout, diagnosed with an Epidermoid Cyst, a brain tumour, faced chronic migraines, pain, and hearing issues before a seven-hour craniotomy in January 2024. She talks about the struggles she faced, mental and physical trauma. Laken, now a mother of two, urges thorough research, questioning, and persistance when dealing with a daunting diagnoses. Motivated by family and faith, she wants to encourage others and advocating for better mental health care, she underscores the crucial role of online communities.

“I am still healing, but so far so good! It’s a process, but I am here every day, making the best of it that I can.” – Laken Stout

What is the toughest challenge survivors face?

I think the toughest challenge survivors face is healing from mental and physical trauma. Not only does having a brain tumour take a physical toll on your body before surgery (or treatment), but also after during the healing process. However, the mental pain can almost be worse. You have all these worries and thoughts of “what if” that starts to creep in after your initial diagnosis, and depending on the length of time between diagnosis and surgery/treatment… that starts to build up. In my case, it is a matter of unpacking all of that now that I am in recovery. I found out I had my tumour in September of 2022. I found out I was pregnant in December of 2022. My surgery was then held off until after my daughter was born. That was a long time (one year and four months) to sit, worry, and wait. And that left me with a lot of mental scars that I am now working to heal and overcome.

Epidermoid Cyst

Any advice for people or loved ones who get daunting diagnoses?

  • Do your research. There are online support groups for brain tumours; some are even dedicated to specific brain tumours.
  • Ask your medical team 1,000 questions until you feel confident with the treatment plan set in place.
  • Most importantly, pray. If you’re a believer, then I am telling you… prayer carried me through all of it.

What motivates you?

My two beautiful children, my loving husband, my wonderful family and most importantly, my faith.

How has your life changed, if at all?

My life has changed in so many ways. But the first way that comes to my mind is my empathy. I can now relate to people and situations that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

Is there anything else you want people to know?

I think mental health care for people who are either getting diagnosed today, going through treatment, prepping for surgery, or waiting on the results of their yearly scan is SO IMPORTANT. There has to be better education and treatment for people dealing with really real and raw anxiety and depression relating to these types of conditions. The health system, as it stands, sends us home to “deal with it” silently. That is why I am so grateful for the online communities where we “brain buddies” can band together to support each other because WE NEED IT.


Who is your hero?

God and Jesus Christ, for sure. I would not be here without them. My other heroes are my grandmother and my father. I was raised by a single father who provided everything for me after my mother abandoned me as a young child. My grandmother (my father’s mother) then stepped in and became a mother figure to me. I wouldn’t be who I am today without their fierce devotion, guidance, support and love.

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

Hmmm… Well, if you know me well… then you will know this, but I absolutely love where I am from… The Appalachian Mountains. I love to learn the “old ways” from the elders in my area or by reading literature dedicated to education on Appalachian culture from our food, clothing, music, all the way to our beloved “cryptids.” Haha! I love learning about the history of faith and spirituality that came out of these mountains and the way that people persevered to survive in one of the poorest regions in America. I think the Farmer’s Almanac and the traditional “wives tales” are absolutely fascinating.

What gift would you give to a person diagnosed with a brain tumour?

First, the best gift you can buy for someone in this situation is your EDUCATION. PLEASE educate yourself on your loved one’s diagnosis and walk this journey with them. Granted, you cannot walk this road for them, but you can be their shoulder to lean on so that they don’t feel isolated or alone through their journey. By educating yourselves on what is occurring in their brain, you’re taking the load of the responsibility off of them to educate you. Let’s be honest- they may not be ready to fully disclose or accept the diagnosis initially, and your understanding and empathy will be their biggest blessing.

As far as an actual material gift, there is nothing you can ever buy to make the pain of getting diagnosed with a brain tumour go away, benign or malignant. But, as a survivor, the gifts I received coming out of recovery were priceless: cards from my church family and people who had been praying for me; my church even did a meal train so that my family and I didn’t have to worry about cooking dinner for the first few weeks,

and self-care items. The self-care items helped give me a sense of comfort during recovery because everything hurts, and there’s a sense of depression that comes after having a massive surgery. Your pride has taken a hit because you have battled all of this, and now half (if not more) of your head is shaved and stitched together.


In the end, Laken’s journey is like a guiding light for anyone dealing with similar struggles. Her strength and push for better mental health care are an encouragement for patients to tackle their own paths with courage, faith, and a community mindset. Let’s cheer on Laken’s victories, knowing that her story is a wellspring of inspiration for everyone weaving through the intricate landscape of brain tumour recovery.


Laken Stout brain tumour story

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