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#MonicaRocks One Year Later: Wisdom the brain tumor left behind

A year after being diagnosed with a brain tumor, Monica reflects on her journey and much more.
Credit: 3News

CLEVELAND — A letter from Monica Robins:

Hi Everyone, 

Today is July 2. A year ago today, I received a phone call about 90 minutes before news time that I knew would change my life forever… or so I thought.  

I had a CT scan the day before and the doctor was calling me to tell me I had a brain tumor. I didn’t make it on the news that night. I told my bosses what was happening and went home to tell Deke and start figuring out what I was going to do. Life seemed to stop and be a tornado at the same time. Three days later, I met with a brain surgeon and we made a plan. There was still much we didn’t know about the tumor, but we did know I had a pretty rocky road ahead. I was lucky I didn’t have to have surgery right away, I had time to literally get my affairs in order. I’ll be honest, I went down the rabbit hole a few times, but what brought me out was remembering the stories of hundreds of people I’ve interviewed over the years who shared with me that positive thinking and attitude is just as important as medical treatment. I know now they were spot on. I learned quite a few other things during the past year.  

Being grateful isn’t just a saying, it’s a state of mind and it helped me put a lot of fears to rest and opened my eyes to a different perspective. That included to stop focusing on the things I should have done yesterday, or worry about  what awaits me tomorrow, all I could think of was the next five minutes. Doing that took away a lot of stress, helped me to focus on one thing or task at a time and it truly was a gift. It’s why they call it the present. I didn’t make my diagnosis public for three and a half months. I kept going to work and tried to keep my life somewhat normal, but each week I’d tell a few more people and that was truly difficult. But what I got in return will also get me through the rest of my life. I truly had no idea how many people cared. I didn’t realize the power of prayer and positive healing thoughts really do make a difference. I could feel it. I also didn’t realize that the way I handled my journey might become someone else’s survivor guide. 

I had no time for tears. That night a year ago today, I lost it for about thirty seconds. I'm not kidding. But then something told me to snap out of it and get into warrior mode. The hardest thing and perhaps most rewarding was telling all of you what I was going through.

I really thought that if the universe was going to put me through this nightmare, the least I could do was create a little light, by not only sharing my story but using it to perhaps help others, educate and raise awareness. I wasn’t happy being stuck at home for four months and on those days I had trouble getting out of bed because I was starting to feel sorry for myself, I remembered all of those people who had tougher roads than mine. They were getting out of bed and getting on with life, so I had no excuse. 

I was thrilled when I could finally come back to work and get back on stage with the bands. I thought I would ease my way back into work life but the universe has a pretty sick sense of humor and the pandemic hit. I think it planned all of this so I’d be back in time to cover it. But how ironic, I was sent home again and have been here now another three months. But hey, one thing my brain tumor taught me is that when things get dark and overwhelming, just focus on the next five minutes, open that present if you will.  

As for me, I’m still on the crazy brain journey and MRIs every six months. They didn’t get all of the tumor, so we have to watch it like a hawk. But the ten-inch scar, dent in my head, and three titanium plates I sport in my skull are a constant reminder that if I can get through brain surgery, a pandemic and report and broadcast news from my home for three months, maybe I am a tough cookie.  

Maybe you’re dealing with your own issues, or you’re just fed up with this COVID thing. I get it. But like me, we all have to suck it up and get into warrior mode to beat this thing. (Warriors by the way wear masks when they’re around strangers and keep six feet apart. Just sayin’.)  

I saw a lot of pretty tough warriors in the OR just prior to my surgery and they all had masks on. They’re pretty awesome and I’m eternally grateful that they helped to save my life. So did many of you. For those who just thought of me for an instant, or said a prayer, sent a card or email, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. We’re all connected whether you realize it or not. We’re all a big family. Regardless of where we came from or the color of our skin. Please be safe out there, please be kind, considerate and take care of each other. If I can get through the nonsense I had to deal with, we can all make it through a pandemic with compassion and common sense. Thanks for listening and have a healthy day.  

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