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Librada - Benign Brain Tumor

Librada - Benign Brain Tumor

Librada is busy. She’s a mother of two teenage boys and a spoiled cat, a wife, and a restaurateur with her husband, Benjamin. She is also a community medical doctor for the Bahamas Public Health Department, and once ran the Department’s child abuse unit.

Librada comes from the Philippines and was raised in a family of nine. She went to the oldest university in Asia, University of Santo Tomas: “older than Harvard,” she says, and also the Philippines’ most prestigious, where she studied medicine. She met her future husband when she traveled to the Bahamas one summer.

“I’ve always been flatfooted,” she says, “and in 2012 had reconstructive foot surgery in Florida.” When she experienced shortness of breath after surgery, doctors thought she had a pulmonary embolism. But a CT scan of her brain showed a tumor. Luckily it was benign (non-cancerous). Doctors advised her to follow up within a few years, which she was too busy to do. So when, in 2018, she began having shooting pains in her head, she wondered if it might be that tumor.

“The pain was different from a regular headache,” she says. “It felt like pressure pain. When I finally had another MRI, it showed that the tumor had doubled in size!” She was referred to neurosurgery, but decided to get a second opinion in the United States.

Her husband’s family lives in Seattle, and both her boys – Raphael and Francis - go to high school there, too. Raphael had always wanted to experience American school life, and Francis suffered from chronic asthma that couldn’t be controlled in the Bahamas. So, it was a no-brainer to investigate doctors in Seattle for treatment, so that she could also be with her boys.

Librada with her husband and sons. 

Librada did her research. She wanted the very best neurosurgeon and decided on Dr. Laligam Sekhar at Harborview Medical Center. They had to cut through the bone behind her eye to extract the Type II Meningioma. After surgery, she had the choice of continuing with radiation or not, but her doctor said radiation would help keep the tumor from coming back. “I figured I should do it while I’m still young enough to handle it,” she recalls, so Dr. Sekhar referred her to Dr. Lia Halasz for proton therapy.

Because she didn’t know anything about proton therapy, Librada again did her research. She consulted with her colleagues from University Santo Tomas Faculty of Medicine and Surgery. She prepared herself as much as she could, but she was still a bit worried about how it would work on her specifically. “Proton therapy definitely met my expectations,” she says. “I didn’t feel any pain or side effects during treatment, though the pressure pain still lingers.” Her follow-up MRI looked great.

During her treatments she developed close relationships with her care team. “They even gave me great parenting advice,” she says.

Her RTTs - Clif and Trang - take good care of Librada. 

Getting into the Halloween spirit at the Center. 

Now back in the Bahamas, she admits she is probably pushing herself more than she should be. As a healthcare professional in the public realm, work is often stressful. And COVID has made running a restaurant more difficult as well. But she has a therapeutic routine she follows in the mornings, which involves spending time on her balcony garden, brushing her cat Napoleon.

She also loves to dance. Sometimes patrons at her restaurant ask for music. Just the other day she and her patrons danced to ABBA’s Dancing Queen. Until her next follow-up in Seattle this month, she will continue to garden, Facetime her sons, and spoil her cat.

Family and friends at her Filipino restaurant in the Bahamas.