In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

August 27, 2019

‘Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way:’ Bride Walks Down the Aisle After Brain Surgery

By In the Loop
Christina Anderson and her husband Brandon Jensen.

Christina Anderson and her fiancé, Brandon Jensen, were on their way to happily ever after when a CT scan revealed a tumor on Christina's brainstem.


Christina Anderson and her fiancé, Brandon Jensen, were on their way to happily ever after. They "both had good jobs they enjoyed," had just bought their first home together in Watertown, South Dakota, and were "busy making plans" for their Aug. 10, 2019, wedding. But in the midst of it all, as the Fairmont Sentinel reports, Christina's head began spinning.

"I started getting a bad case of vertigo," she tells the paper. "It got so bad I went to the emergency room." After being given medicine and "some neck exercises to do," Christina left the hospital and went straight to the nursing home in Watertown, where she works as a nurse. "I thought I could do my whole shift," she tells the Sentinel. "I thought just because I was dizzy was a dumb reason to stay home."

Part-way through her shift, however, Christina's dizziness returned, this time worse than before. A co-worker rushed her back to the Emergency Department. "They gave me some medicine to stop the world from spinning," Christina tells the Sentinel. "And they ordered a CT scan." What that CT scan found is something Christina never saw coming: She had a golf-ball-sized tumor on her brainstem.

That was the bad news, it turns out. The good news was that the MRI of Christina's brain showed it may be a benign tumor known as a hemangioblastoma. Still, it needed to be removed, and it needed to be removed as quickly as possible so Christina could get back to living her life and planning her wedding. For that, she turned to Manish Sharma, M.B.B.S., a neurosurgeon at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato. "A tumor that size in that part of the brain in that location with the symptoms … surgery was essentially life-saving," Dr. Sharma tells Fox 9 News.

Just three months shy of her wedding date, however, Christina issued a stern pre-op challenge to Dr. Sharma. "She had a wedding to go to and she said she was not having her hair cut," Dr. Sharma tells Fox 9. "So that was our first fight already."

Dr. Sharma obliged, managing to "perform the surgery and take the tumor out while cutting the least amount of hair" possible. Christina's road to recovery then began in full force. "She bounced back very quickly," Dr. Sharma tells the station. "She left the hospital quicker than expected and walking, and pretty determined to get better."

Christina was also pretty determined to rid herself of the walker her care team "suggested" she may need to help her walk down the aisle. "That wasn't even an option for me," Christina tells the station. "I was going to get rid of that thing. One way or another, it was going."

And thanks to her determination and "self-described stubbornness," it did. "Walking down the aisle on my wedding day was very important to me," Christina tells us. "With the help of my care team and the rehab exercises they had me do at home after my surgery, I just set my mind to it and made it happen. Where there's a will, there's a way."

You can read more about Christina and her will to recover from brain surgery here, here and here. Then chime in by sharing your comments below before you use the social media tools to share this story with others.  


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Tags: Brain tumors, Dr. Manish Sharma, Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, Patient Stories

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