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Woman hopes her story of tumor will help others

Al Musella's Comments: (This is his personal views and are not necessarily the views of the Musella Foundation!)


Posted on: 12/27/2003

[Editor's note: you can buy the book online at: for about $12.00

Woman hopes her story of tumor will help others

Posted on Sat, Dec. 27, 2003
By Jan Jarvis
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

M.L. Dubay tells her story in 100 Questions and Answers About Brain Tumors.

M.L. Dubay was lying on a table waiting for her head to be shaved when the gravity of the situation hit her.

"When people open your head up and start messing around in there, there's a real good chance you're not going to be same person you were when you went in," she said.

"The good news is, I am."

Dubay, who was 36 when she had surgery to remove a golf ball-sized tumor, tells her story of surviving cancer in a new book, 100 Questions and Answers About Brain Tumors. Virginia Stark-Vance, the book's author and a Fort Worth oncologist who provides the medical answers to common questions, asked Dubay to write about the disease from a patient's viewpoint.

In 100 Questions and Answers About Brain Tumors, Stark-Vance tries to give patients and their families the facts they need to deal with a very complicated disease.

There are more than 100 types of brain tumors and plenty of misconceptions, Stark-Vance said. So often, people think of brain tumor, they think of someone who is dead a year after diagnosis, she said.

"You don't hear about those who are still alive," she said.

More than 190,600 brain tumors will be diagnosed during 2003, according to the American Brain Tumor Association. Of those, about 18,000 will be malignant. The five-year survival rate for those diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor is 32 percent.

Stark-Vance wanted to write a book that would give patients and their relatives answers they need to deal with the disease. She answers a variety of questions from what medications are used to treat seizures to how to read a pathology report.

The book also answers the question, "How am I going to die?" Stark-Vance said. Every patient asks it, but books don't address it.

"But patients have this fear that their tumor is going to get bigger and bigger until their brain explodes," Stark-Vance said. "It sounds so scary to them. Fortunately, it doesn't happen that way."

The book is part of a patient education series published by Jones and Bartlett. It is available in stores and sold through

Dubay, who lives in Plano, said the hardest part about writing the book was not reliving memories, but setting aside the time to do it.

Three years ago, she woke up with what she thought was the flu. She managed to get to work, but once she got there, her appearance alarmed a friend who took her to an emergency room. There, doctors quickly found a brain tumor.

A few days later, she underwent surgery to remove the tumor, but she remembers little about the experience.

"I was in shock for a period of time," she said. "I don't think it hit me until 10 days later that I had a brain tumor."

After surgery she had radiation, followed by oral chemotherapy. She has had no recurrence of the cancer, she said.

Today, Dubay is back at work and busy as ever. She attributes her survival to her family, a positive attitude and medical advances.

"Ten years ago, I probably would not be doing as well as I am today," she said. "A lot of times, I think there must be a reason why I am still here; maybe writing this book was one of them."


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