Angela Lee, 43 from Atlanta, Georgia was diagnosed with a Pituitary Adenomas in July 2018. Emergency Room Travel Registered Nurse shares her brain tumour story and how she now is on a quest to learn more from the brain tumour experts: This includes The Pituitary Foundation, Endocrine.org and The National Brain Tumor Society so she can help spread awareness.
How did you find out about your diagnosis?
After celebrating our second wedding anniversary on July 3, my husband began telling me, something was wrong due to my mood swings and constantly being brief with him during a simple conversation.
I started observing my husband’s claim but still reluctant to accept it. I was over the age of 40 years old, an African American Female, so I thought my body was going through early menopause. Then I figured that maybe my recent Uterine Fibroid Embolization procedure in March 2018, may have manipulated something with my hormones.
I made an appointment with a local family doctor that specializes in dysfunctional hormones. My abnormal lab work of T3, T4 diagnosed me with an underactive thyroid and extremely high prolactin level that required an MRI which confirmed my diagnosis of the pituitary adenomas.
My care was with a multidisciplinary team of physicians made up of my family doctor, neurologist and endocrinologist to achieve the best predictable outcome for my health condition.
“40 years old, an African American Female, so I thought my body was going through early menopause” – Angela Lee
What were your symptoms?
I had several symptoms prior to my Pituitary Adenomas diagnosis. For a year I didn’t have a menstrual cycle and had frequent excruciating headache, nausea, profusely sweating, hair loss, breast tenderness, insomnia, depression, mood swings with outburst crying episodes, low libido, lack of energy and unexplained weight gain.
How are you doing now?
Great at the moment, my life is a roller coaster ride with side effects but I push through by remaining positive as well as holding on to God’s promises to heal me as stated in Mark 11:24. I visit the doctor every six months to make sure the pituitary adenomas is responding to the medication, if not Transsphenoidal surgery is the next option.
I am currently being treated for my pituitary adenomas with Cabergoline 0.5 mg half tablet bi-weekly and Hypothyroidism with Unithroid 100 mcg daily.
What is the toughest challenge a survivor’s face?
My toughest challenge was getting up every day pondering those “What if” questions while procrastinating from living my best life. The power of acceptance!! It was difficult for me to accept that I was once completely healthy now living with some the size of a grape inside my head. SCARY! Once, I accepted that God had trusted me with this assignment, I realized this fight wasn’t just about me but the lives that will be touched or inspired by my resilience.
Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
I use the acronym: A.S.K.
A– Amplify your goals by embracing that one thing that you feel is hindering you from fulfilling your dreams,
S – Seek support or surround yourself with positive people that can be a cheerleader, pusher, loyal confidant and energizer when you feel like giving up and
K – Kick those negative habits such as making excuses why you can’t change your mindset for eating high fattening foods, not exercising being too busy to take the time to indulge in self-care and accepting an invitation for a pity party.
What do you do now in your life?
I am an Emergency Room Travel Nurse saving others lives while sacrificing my own. My job requires me to work in a high demand environment, caring for people that are critical to minor acuity that is depending on me to provide extraordinary care to them.
I am also researching alternative ways to make healthier choices since my diagnosis. I am on a quest to learn more from the experts: Pituitary Foundation, Endocrine.org and The National Brain Tumor Society so I can help spread awareness.
I want to provide support, any valuable information to improve our lives along with exploring treatment options.
This health condition affects women, men and children from various ethnicities, age and demographic. I have never heard of this diagnosis during my nine years as a registered nurse since this has happened to me, now I inform my patients with those similar symptoms to ask for those specific lab tests, TSH, T3, T4 and Prolactin, to rule out pituitary or thyroid issues.
This pituitary adenomas causing hyperprolactinemia disorder is often misdiagnosed or given inappropriate treatment because there are no clinical implications mostly hormonal until it’s detected radiologically.
What motivates you?
The Neurologist informed me that I could possibly lose my sight. I went deaf for a moment as he continued to talk about the side effects associated with this condition. I saw my entire life frozen as I fought back the tears, thinking, what about my unfulfilled dreams? I made a decision after I accepted this condition was now attached to me so until God decided otherwise, I turned The Brain Tumor into my WHY…..
I can’t afford to procrastinate anymore.
Who is your personal hero or are your heroes?
- First, God!
- Then my mom who has given so much of herself so I can chase my dream of becoming a Professional Transformational Speaker.
- I want to meet OPRAH this year!!
- Kodi Lee, a contestant on American Got Talent, with him being blind lead on stage by his mother, impacted me as I was sitting there crying. It was God’s confirmation that even if I lost my sight, I could still pursue my dream, that was an eye-opener for me.
- Mr Daymon John, Mr Grant Cardone, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Pastor Toure’ and Sara Roberts.
- Mr Gregg Leakes, a Cancer Survivor, he encouraged me after I was newly diagnosed and uncertain of what to expect.
What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?
I became my cheerleader rooting for myself to WIN the biggest GAME of my life, trusting God wholeheartedly. I named my pituitary adenomas, SAM, biblical meaning “God has heard.” Now, that I am open about my current health condition, it is quite interesting how I found the tenacity to continue to empower others without disclosing my unfavourable news. I documented my journey through pictures and videos keeping them hidden in my cellphone.
What’s next on your agenda?
I will continue to host monthly health challenges on Facebook to get people involved with being conscious of engaging in self-care. Becoming a World Sought Transformational Speaker and A Self-Care Advocate while spreading awareness on both my brain tumor and hypothyroidism. (here is the link Facebook)
Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know?
I am an Emergency Room Travel Registered Nurse. I witness wave patterns begin and end which is my main reason I campaign for people along with myself to chase your dreams before it’s to late.
My mission is to use my medical expertise along with my personal experiences to empower and educate individuals. My desire is for them to become an active participant by adding a self-care regimen to their daily routine such as report all symptoms to the doctor immediately not use Google to self diagnose, create a gratitude journal, a count my blessing jar, take 15 -30 minutes to meditate, research Groupon for travel deals and create a vision board or bucket list.
Conclusion: Thank you so much, Angela, for sharing your Pituitary Adenomas story and showing us how much you are doing in your life. What an amazing journey you are on.
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