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Shawnee Mission School District teacher shares brain tumor survival journey, raises awareness

Lisa Joerling
Posted at 9:46 AM, May 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-29 10:46:18-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One Shawnee Mission School District teacher is working to raise awareness during Brain Tumor/Brain Cancer Awareness Month by sharing her personal brain tumor survival journey.

"I remember the doctor saying we found a mass and then I don't remember anything after that," Lisa Joerling said.

This local teacher is a survivor.

"I was 19 and I was a sophomore in college. I was going to K-State and I woke up one morning and my whole right side was numb. My speech was slurred, all the way up from my foot to my mouth," she said.

A trip to the ER later, everything changed.

"They did a cat scan there and found out I had a golf ball-sized tumor in my left parietal lobe," Joerling said.

That summer, she spent her time in the hospital. Her treatment was one that might scare most, having brain surgery awake.

"My tumor is called a ganglioglioma and so it's kind of borderline benign, borderline grade one. The next week, I had an awake craniotomy to remove the tumor. That was a crazy experience," Joerling said.

Years later, she sadly ended up back at the doctor's office again.

"In 2018, I had a small recurrence. They are kind of watching a flare spot and they think I might have partial seizures in this hand, so I was on seizure medicine for a while," she said.

This survivor is doing great now. With this new lease on life, she is helping raise awareness about brain tumors for the local nonprofit, Head for the Cure.

"I had always loved running 5k's before and then joining Head for the Cure kind of put my passion for exercise and running into a passion for brain tumor awareness," Joerling said.

She wants to share the message of never taking your health for granted.

"I was just living a very normal life and then this happened to me. It can be very unexpected. You can be virtually walking around with no symptoms and not to scare anyone, but take care of your body and yourself," Joerling said.

Head for the Cure will have their annual KC 5K on Aug. 28 at Corporate Woods.