Overachieving Teen Followed Neurosurgeon Michael Edwards to LPCH
But amid all her activities, Trina also squeezes in numerous visits to doctors and physical and speech therapists, including regular trips from her home outside Sacramento to see neurosurgeon Michael Edwards, MD, and neurologist Paul Fisher, MD, at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital (LPCH).
She has brain cancer and, thanks to Edwards, she’s alive.
By the time Edwards first saw Trina three years ago, other physicians had diagnosed her symptoms as migraine headaches, allergies and asthma.
Then, during her 7th grade graduation party, she became confused and off balance. She couldn’t stand or sit up. The local doctor gave her fluid and sent her home. A few days later, when her eyes started to cross and pop out, her eye doctor ordered a CT scan and referred her to Edwards. He spotted a tumor on Trina’s brain stem and, the very next day, removed as much of it as he could. If he hadn’t acted quickly, Trina might have died within a few days.
Jennifer Branaugh, Trina’s mother, views Edwards as her ‘angel.’ “If it wasn’t for him taking notice, I would not have a 15-year old daughter,” she says. “I would follow him to the ends of the earth.”
But the Branaughs didn’t have to go that far to see Dr. Edwards after he took a position at LPCH in 2004. When Trina’s tumor began to grow again during that summer, the family willingly brought her to Palo Alto.
Dr. Edwards inspires their confidence. “Not only does he speak to you at a level you can understand, he will also talk to you like you’re his peer,” says Branaugh. “He does the same with my daughter.”
In October, 2004, Edwards operated on Trina again. This time, he was able to remove the entire brainstem tumor. “Radiation and chemotherapy had put it in a little pocket so he could grab it,” says Branaugh. “It came out really easily.”
Trina was up and walking after a day. In the months since then, she has gone through physical therapy similar to stroke rehabilitation, and she returned to tenth grade in January, 2005.
Trina’s not out of the woods yet. “Dr. Edwards described this to us as a marathon,” says Branaugh. But Edwards will be the Branaugh’s doctor as long as Trina needs him.
Through it all, Branaugh says, Trina has continued her busy life. And her parents expect her to do 15-year old things, like empty the dishwasher and take out the garbage. She rolls her eyes at these requests just as any teen would. As her mother puts it, “If she can get through these teenage years, she’s going to be phenomenal.”