Kendra Pittsley knew something was “off” about her headaches she kept getting in 2007.
“I started having headaches and seizures, so it was a rather scary experience,” she said.
The Massachusetts woman was even more scared when she received her diagnosis of brain cancer and would have to have surgery. Yet even more terrifying was when it came back a year later.
But Pittsley is a self-described brain tumor warrior, who has beat cancer twice. And because it was caught as early as it was, the prognosis was much better than what it would have been if caught later, like with most cancers.
“When we catch them early, it’s easier to remove surgically,” said Lifespan neurosurgeon Dr. Steven Toms. “Often, we find them before they’ve invaded or destroyed critical areas of the brain.”
That’s why for the past three years, Pittsely has been holding events to raise money and awareness of brain cancer, especially after her own battle. She’s already raised thousands of dollars for the American Brain Tumor Association.
“People shouldn’t die from brain tumors just because of a lack of funding,” she said. “So if there’s not going to be money from the government, someone needs to make a difference and try to raise money.”
Now, she’s hoping that Senator John McCain’s diagnosis of brain cancer will bring more attention to the disease as well, as famous figures often do.
“When they get it, then people pay more attention to it, when someone in the public has it,” Pittsley said.
We’re keeping everyone fighting brain cancer in our thoughts and prayers, and hoping they can get the word out to as many people as possible.
Find out some strange facts about cancer we never knew in the video below.
NEXT: See celebrities who are cancer survivors in the photos below.
Edie Falco: Breast cancer, 2004 Falco kept her treatment a secret from her Sopranos co-stars. “Surviving cancer has a way of making you re-prioritize," she's said. In her case, it meant starting a family.
Kathy Bates: Ovarian cancer, 2003; breast cancer, 2012 The actress kept her cancer a secret but after her double mastectomy, she told People magazine: "Breast cancer runs like a river through my family.
Fran Drescher: Uterine cancer, 2000 It took two years and eight doctors before the Nanny star was finally diagnosed. After the experience, she wrote a book and started a cancer foundation.
Rod Stewart: Thyroid cancer, 2000 The rock icon got lucky when his cancer was discovered during a routine scan. He lost his voice for three weeks, and now sings an octave lower than he used to.
Carly Simon: Breast cancer, 1997 After a lumpectomy and chemotherapy, the singer told the New York Daily News she was "stronger than ever. I've always thought of myself as a warrior."
Sheryl Crow: Breast cancer, 2006 The singer, then 44, had just broken up with Lance Armstrong when doctors discovered a tumor. After treatment, she adopted two boys.
Sharon Osbourne: Colon cancer, 2002 The reality TV star had one foot of her colon removed. After discovering she carried the gene for breast cancer, she had a double mastectomy.
Hugh Jackman: Skin cancer, 2013, 2016 Jackman was filming X Men when a makeup artist pointed to a red mark on his nose. It turned out to be basal cell carcinoma. He now gets skin checks every three months.
Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro: Prostate cancer, 2003 De Niro, then 60, credited his complete recovery to early detection.
Christina Applegate: Breast cancer, 2008 The actress was only 36, but she had the BRCA gene mutation--her mom was a breast cancer survivor. She opted for a double mastectomy.
Michael C Hall
Michael C. Hall: Hodgkin's lymphoma, 2010 Hall used a break during Dexter to go through treatment. Getting a Golden Globe two-thirds through it gave him a "shock of positive energy."