From Diagnosis to Discovery: My Journey of Healing and Growth After a Brain Tumor

June 3, 2024

From Diagnosis to Discovery: My Journey of Healing and Growth After a Brain Tumor


They say life can change in the blink of an eye, and that’s exactly how this journey began.


What started as a routine visit to the eye doctor for my yearly exam quickly became a pivotal moment that altered the course of my life forever. Little did I know that behind the routine screening and familiar office setting, a profound discovery awaited, challenging me in ways I never imagined possible. 

Embarking on the road to recovery after brain surgery is a journey filled with twists, turns, and unexpected challenges. As someone who has navigated this path firsthand, I’ve come to understand the profound impact that functional medicine can have on supporting healing and promoting overall well-being. In this blog post, I’ll share my journey of navigating life after brain surgery and how functional medicine became an integral part of my recovery process.

Waking up in a neuro ICU after an eight-hour brain surgery, I was filled with an unexpected sense of empowerment. At that moment, I realized that I had faced one of the greatest challenges of my life head-on and had emerged on the other side. The mere act of opening my eyes felt like a victory, a testament to my strength and resilience in the face of adversity. Every first thereafter, it felt like another mountain had been moved. I will always remember when they allowed me to stand for the first time so that I could brush my teeth. I was a little wobbly, surrounded by people on all sides, and had a wheelchair behind me, but man, was I proud of myself for just being able to stand up. I then promised myself I would never take those things for granted again. That was also what inspired me to start running during my recovery. For the first time, I truly grasped the significance of life. This newfound awareness ignited a fire, inspiring me to change my life. No longer content to merely exist, I was determined to live life with purpose and intention, seizing every opportunity and cherishing every relationship. In the wake of this transformative experience, I embarked on a journey of self-discovery and growth, guided by the realization that this is not my practice life. 

Brain health took center stage in my life, becoming an immensely important topic. What began as a bit of research and casual reading swiftly evolved into a deep dive into podcasts, lifestyle adjustments, and more. During this exploration, I stumbled upon functional health, which ultimately became a pivotal component of my healing journey. The more I learned about the intricate connection between lifestyle, nutrition, and brain function, the more empowered I felt to take charge of my well-being. Functional health offered me a holistic approach to healing—from dietary changes to stress management techniques; I embraced it with open arms, knowing that it held the key to unlocking my full potential for healing and vitality. Here are some of the ways that functional medicine helped me throughout my journey:

A Holistic Approach to Healing:

  • When I underwent brain surgery, I quickly realized that healing wasn’t just about addressing the physical aspects of recovery. It was also about nurturing my emotional and mental well-being.
  • Functional medicine offered me a holistic approach to healing that resonated deeply with my values and beliefs. It focused on uncovering the root causes of illness and supporting the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

Nourishing My Body with Nutritional Support:

  • Following brain surgery, I knew that proper nutrition would be essential for supporting my body’s healing process. 
  • I discovered nutritional strategies that nourished my body and supported my brain health and overall well-being. From anti-inflammatory foods to targeted supplements, I found a way to fuel my body for optimal recovery.

Cultivating Calm and Resilience:

  • Coping with the physical and emotional stress of brain surgery and recovery was no easy feat, but I was able to find strategies to help me through. 
  • Stress management techniques became invaluable during my recovery journey. From mindfulness practices to yoga and meditation, I discovered ways to cultivate calm, resilience, and inner peace amidst the chaos.
  • Incorporating stress management strategies into daily life can reduce stress levels, enhance resilience, and promote a sense of calm and balance during the recovery journey.


  • Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, delivering oxygen and nutrients essential for healing. This enhanced circulation can help reduce inflammation, support tissue repair, and promote overall brain health.
  • Physical activity stimulates neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reorganize and form new neural connections. This process is essential for recovering cognitive function, motor skills, and other abilities affected by brain surgery.
  • Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters that boost mood and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. This can be especially beneficial during the emotional ups and downs of the recovery process.
  •  Physical activity has been shown to improve cognitive function, including memory, attention, and executive function. These cognitive benefits can be particularly valuable during recovery, helping individuals regain mental clarity and focus.
  • Recovering from brain surgery can be physically demanding, and exercise can help improve energy levels and stamina. Building strength and endurance through regular physical activity can make daily tasks easier and improve overall recovery.


Running became my sanctuary, my refuge amid uncertainty and upheaval. In the aftermath of brain surgery, when emotions ran high, and the road to recovery seemed daunting, lacing up my running shoes provided a sense of solace and control. Running became more than just physical exercise—it became a form of therapy, a means of processing my emotions and finding clarity amidst the chaos.

Running also became a metaphor for my journey of recovery. Just as every step forward brought me closer to my destination, each run symbolized progress toward healing. There were days when the miles felt effortless, like I was flying on the wings of hope and determination. And then there were days when every step felt like a struggle, a reminder of the challenges ahead. But through it all, running taught me the importance of perseverance and resilience, urging me to keep moving forward one step at a time.

But perhaps most importantly, running provided a sense of empowerment—a reminder that I was not defined by my diagnosis or limited by my circumstances. As I crossed the finish lines and conquered personal milestones, I proved to myself that I was capable of far more than I ever imagined. In the rhythm of my footsteps, I found the courage to face my fears, the strength to embrace vulnerability, and the resilience to keep moving forward no matter the obstacles in my path.

In life’s journey, some moments test our resilience, challenge our perceptions, and ultimately redefine our paths. For me, discovering I had a brain tumor was one such moment—an unexpected twist in the narrative of my life that would ultimately lead me down a path of profound discovery and transformation. What began as a diagnosis fraught with fear and uncertainty soon became a journey of self-discovery, empowerment, and gratitude, largely thanks to the principles of functional health.

But the most profound lesson I learned from my experience with a brain tumor was the power of gratitude. I am grateful for the wake-up call that reminded me of the fragility of life. I am grateful for the lessons learned along the way—the importance of self-care, the value of resilience, and the beauty of embracing each moment with an open heart. And yes, I am grateful even for the tumor itself—for without it, I may never have embarked on this journey of self-discovery and growth.

As I reflect on my journey, I am reminded of the words of poet Rumi: “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” Amid adversity, I found light. Light in the form of knowledge, empowerment, and a renewed appreciation for the gift of life itself. And for that, I am eternally grateful. I am grateful for the journey, grateful for the lessons, and yes, even grateful for the brain tumor that sparked a transformational shift in my life. For it is through adversity that we discover our strength, and through gratitude, we find the courage to embrace the journey, wherever it may lead.

~Kelsey Geiger