2/20/2010 4:30:00 PM Brain tumor brings fear, great acts of friendship Diana Deiley looks back on ordeal with amazement
VVN/Philip Wright Diana and Ed Deiley posed with a homemade get-well card signed by all of the employees at MUHS and many other cards that were sent to her after her surgery for removal of a plum-sized brain tumor.
COTTONWOOD - "This thing had been growing for six or seven years," said Diana Deiley. But she didn't know that a brain tumor - a meningioma the size of a plum -- was growing, spreading its tentacles and compressing her brain tissue.
Diana became aware that something was wrong July 3. "I thought it was vertigo," she said. Then she thought she might have Parkinson's because she was twitching. "It progressed to numbness in the left cheek, lips and tongue." She also had neck pain, which she thought was just a pinched nerve.
Eventually, Wendy Treash, PA, at Family Medical Center, ordered an MRI for Diana.
While Diana was having the MRI a technician immediately knew something was wrong and called her doctor.
"I was just getting out of the machine," Diana said. They sent her right back to Family Medical Center. She said Dr. Colvin tried to break the news gently that she had "a mass" in her brain.
The next morning Diana and her husband, Ed, headed to Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix for a consultation and another MRI.
On Jan. 26, Diana had a pre-op consultation with Dr. David Barranco, a neurological surgeon. The next morning at 6:30 she was headed into surgery.
But the quick timeline between diagnosis and surgery doesn't really tell the story of what was happening to Diana.
A payroll specialist at Mingus Union High School, Diana said she had to go to the school and tell them what was going on. "I was told I had to tell my employer in case something happened," she said. "They needed to know what to do."
Her supervisor, Kirk Waddle, director of finance, looked at Diana and said, "Oh, wow!' "Then he said, "don't your worry about anything,'" Diana said.
"Then Mr. Foist (MUHS superintendent) came looking for me," she said. "He caught me in the hallway." Foist gave Diana a hug and walked her to his office. She said he sat her down and took her hand. "He told me, "I don't want you to worry about anything.'"
That was the second, but not the last time, she would hear those words. "Then John Tavasci (school board president) called me," she said. "He said the same thing, "I don't want you to worry about anything.'"
That was just the beginning of what Diana now refers to as "all the fun at Mingus.'
She called Maria Puzas who is retired from MUHS. "She was my best buddy for years," Diana said. She told Maria that she didn't want Ed to be alone during the six- to eight-hour surgery. So Maria and her husband, David, made the trip to Phoenix to be with Ed and wait for Diana's surgery to be over.
But before Maria headed to Phoenix, she stopped by Mingus to pick up a huge homemade card - signed by every employee at the school.
While Diana was in the hospital, Waddle delivered gifts from school to her home, and neighbors looked after her cat. Once she was home, neighbors, co-workers and family visited. People at work set up a schedule for someone to cook and deliver meals three or four days a week.
They sent many cards and gifts, and one man at work walked to Diana's home to deliver a dozen roses, which he simply left on her front porch.
Her sister Cindy Lehmann arrived from Staffords Springs, Conn., and her nephew, Michael Sapeniza, drove in from Los Angeles. The employees at Mingus even took up a collection for Diana.
"All the employees have been so great," Ed said.
Last week, Diana went to the Mingus School Board meeting, unannounced. "I just had to tell them how I felt," she said. "They've just been awesome. I can't say enough."
Before Diana went to Phoenix for her first consultation, the gravity of her situation struck home. "I had my meltdown and my moment with God," she said. "I got up in the middle of the night and I just lost it. I prayed to God, and I prayed to my dad."
She said one thing that worried her was how she'd be remembered. "I wanted them to remember me with smiles and laughter," she said. "I didn't want to cry in front of them."
Back at the hospital. The surgeons made an incision from Diana's forehead to her crown and down over her earlobe. They removed a piece of skull the size and shape of a large drink coaster.
They got the tumor out, and after waiting two weeks for the lab results, Diana and Ed learned that her tumor was benign. Some people die from meningiomas; others suffer paralysis. So far, Diana's problems have been sleeplessness and excruciating pressure in her head. It also takes her a little longer than normal to write. But she is confident all of these things will pass.
Diana said the hardest part of the entire ordeal was calling her 78-year-old mother, Julia Peterson. "I had to call my mother in Florida and tell her. She said, "Well, you just get it out.'"
Surprisingly, Diana said she didn't have to wait for the lab results to come back to know that everything went well. "When I woke up and Ed was holding my hand, I knew I was going to be all right."
Ed said that he can't really explain all of the feelings he went through. "It was a long 4 Â½ hour surgery," he said. But when the doctor came out, Ed was worried because the surgery was over quicker than he expected. The doctor told him the surgery went well.