Brain Tumor Survivor, Wife and Mother – 6 Years Later

Tamara Ramage Bruce’s life is full of blessings. In the past six years, she’s gotten married and had two children.

“I’m so grateful and amazed that I can be here,” she says with a laugh after being treated for a rare brain tumor in 2010.

Bruce was a healthy young woman in her mid-20s when she started waking up with hot and cold sweats and had a constant feeling of nausea. Taken to the emergency room by her father, Bruce was startled to be diagnosed with low grade leptomeningeal chondrosarcoma, a brain tumor so rare only a handful of people in the world have been diagnosed with it.

“I had always been healthy until about a year before when I had several bouts of severe headaches,” Bruce recalls. “I remember I joked then that I hoped it wasn’t a brain tumor, but then, when it came true, I thought for a split second that my life was over. I couldn’t believe what was happening.”

At Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Bruce was seen by a skilled neurology team. The team recommended surgery to remove the tumor. In addition, the team took advantage of intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging (iMRI), advanced technology at the time that allowed for real-time image scans of Bruce’s brain tumor so surgeons could precisely remove it without harming surrounding healthy tissue.

“I was happy to be at one of the best hospitals in the world,” Bruce says. “The neurosurgeons were so loving and caring and also calm. I knew I could beat this.”

Two years after her brain tumor was successfully removed, Bruce married her husband, Steve. “We met through family friends,” Bruce says. “My dad used to play hockey and some of his friends had kids Tamara Bruce, Brain Tumor Survivorso I met him that way.”

She also became a certified Montessori educator. A year and a half after her wedding, Tamara and Steve welcomed their daughter, Scarlett, into the family. Their son, Parker, was born in 2015.

“They keep me on my toes, for sure,” says Bruce. “My life is now always active!”

Now more than five years after her diagnosis and treatment for her brain tumor, Bruce says she doesn’t often think about her experience anymore. “It’s kind of like an out-of-body experience,” she explains. “It’s surreal, but it’s something that just happened. I have a lot of respect for the neurosurgeons who were skilled enough to take out my tumor and let me live my life. I have gotten married, I have a family—I’m really living the life that everyone hopes for.”

Tamara does offer one piece of advice. “I would say if you have headaches or nausea, get it checked out.”

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Category: Neurology & Neurosurgery

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Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University Medical Center is the largest hospital in Missouri and the largest private employer in the St. Louis region. An affiliated teaching hospital of Washington University School of Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital has a 1,800 member medical staff with many who are recognized as "Best Doctors in America." They are supported by residents, interns and fellows, in addition to nurses, technicians and other health-care professionals.

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