Patient Stories

Brain Tumor Survivor

Deirdre Timmons

  • Deirdre TimmonsDiagnosed with brain tumor at 47
  • Facing a grim diagnosis, she pursued a second opinion that led her to proton therapy
  • Blogs about her treatment experience, She Did Not Just Say That!

An accomplished writer and filmmaker, Deirdre Timmons is a native Northwesterner who leads a busy life between working and spending time with her family. In the spring of 2013, Deirdre was caring for her mother with Alzheimer’s in addition to her normal routine. So when she began feeling tired and forgetful, she chalked it up to her busy schedule, age, and possible early symptoms of Alzheimer’s. It wasn’t long after that she began experiencing regular dizziness, lack of concentration, unexplained weight loss, and extensive bruising. This combination of symptoms seemed odd, so Deirdre sought the advice of her doctor and subsequently began physical therapy for dizziness. When the symptoms worsened, she pursued further investigation.

After MRIs, x-rays, blood tests, a CAT scan, and a brain biopsy, her brain surgeon diagnosed Deirdre with a malignant medulloblastoma brain tumor. Her prognosis: one month to live.

Seeking a second opinion

Shocked by this news, Deirdre, along with her supportive family, sought second and third opinions, interviewing experts and researching treatment options. After meeting with additional doctors and learning there was a cure rate for adult medulloblastomas, Deirdre ignored the month timeline and embraced a new sense of hope. Feeling empowered, she set in motion her plan to beat brain cancer.

After much research, Deirdre decided to combine Eastern and Western medicine for her fight. She was intrigued by the promise of proton therapy. Since much of her brain and her entire spine were going to be irradiated, it made sense to choose a treatment that would minimize collateral damage from photon exit rays, and she decided to pursue proton therapy at SCCA Proton Therapy, A ProCure Center. In addition, she followed guidance from an integrative doctor that included a regimen of specific herbs, an organic diet, massage, exercise, and acupuncture.

The power of protons

Deirdre underwent six weeks of proton therapy. Looking back, she describes her treatment positively. “I actually found the whole radiation process to be pleasant,” she says. “The beautiful building, calming atmosphere, kind staff, painless treatment, and minimal side effects all made for a nice experience. I’m so thankful I made the decision to go with proton therapy for my treatment.”

Following her proton therapy treatment, scans revealed that her tumor has decreased in size and is significantly broken up. Today, Deirdre continues to fight brain cancer with healthful living, exercise, acupuncture, massage, and chemotherapy infusions every six weeks until late summer.

Advice to others

Deirdre strongly encourages others diagnosed with cancer to be persistent and get second and third opinions. She recommends bringing a family member or friend who can help you ask the tough questions when meeting with doctors. She also believes in exploring a combination of treatment options, including alternative treatments.

Deirdre chronicles her journey and varied interests on her blog. Her growing audience spans the globe and comprises cancer patients, cancer survivors, cancer caregivers, military troops, and numerous other individuals grappling with their own personal life challenges.