How A Tumor Changed My Life

Art By: Ariana Bates-Erlich

October 1, 2017
Dear Diary,
I have some bad news. Today I was so excited since the new MRI machine was coming, it was a 3 Tesla MRI Machine, and since I was neurosurgeon I got to use it a lot, but me getting to use the MRI machine is not the point of this entry. At about 10 am I felt my pager start to vibrate. When I got to the MRI room there was a beautiful machine sitting in the place of the old one. “Do you want to try it out,” is what Susie, a second-year resident said to me. Of course, I wanted to try out the machine and the scans, so I layed on the MRI table. About ten minutes later when all the scans were done Susie said in a very shaky voice “Um, Lena I think you should see this,”. As the scans lit up I started to cry in my brain’s frontal lobe there was a big lump that had to be a least 3 inches all around and the worst part was that it was an Acoustic Neuroma tumor so I had about a 10% chance of living more than three weeks so I decided then and there that I would quit my job and do all the things on my bucket list referable to on page 1 of this journal. If you are reading my diary I’m sure you remember the 5 million dollar inheritance I received from my mother after she committed suicide due to depression last year. I haven’t used the money because it makes me feel even sadder, but I think she would want me to use it now. After quitting I went to the lockers and took out the few things I had in mine like a snow globe from Hawaii, a jar of homemade slime from my last patient, and my second favorite pair of pajamas. When I got home I took out my bucket list and what’s listed on it is exactly what I’m going to do:
Bucket List (What I Want To Do But Probably Won’t)
Go to Italy and Meet My Grandparents (Since my mother wouldn’t let me, although she was in a heavy state of depression so I want to meet them)
Fly on a private jet
Go Skydiving
Go Kayaking
Take Yoga Classes


October 2, 2017
Dear Diary,
Today I went to Denver International Airport on United flight 789 and boarded a plane to Milan. When I got to the baggage claim none of my bags were there, I walked to the desk and he told me my bags had been left in Pennsylvania where we had taken a 30-minute layover. I was very frustrated, but I had to get to the hotel since I have a full day planned tomorrow. Other than that I spent almost the whole day sleeping. Pace Fuori*.


October 3, 2017
Dear Diary,
Today I took decided I would take a yoga class. It turns out there was one right by the ocean and I was very excited, so I signed myself up for the yoga class. Apparently Italian women really enjoy yoga because there were at least 50 people there. After having an amazing lunch of Chicken Alfredo I went back to the hotel and turned on the T.V., but every T.V. station was in Italian. In the end, I went on my laptop and looked up kayaking activities in Milan. I found one at night with glow in the dark kayaks and a party afterward. Even though it was something that I wouldn’t usually do since I am quiet and have never attended a party except for Rose Hospital’s holiday party last year. It was so much fun and the best part was the party I met a guy his name is Luca. Even though I only plan to keep him until tomorrow night it has been fun going out there and doing all the things I never thought of doing.


October 5, 2017
Dear Diary,
Today I am going to face my fear of heights and go skydiving, yes, I know what you’re thinking why would you do that? I figure if I’m going to die why not face all my fears before I die. Right before I was going to jump off the plane I chickened, but then Luca, who I now realize would never be my type see explanation on page 5, pushed me out and there I was flying. It was amazing and was so much fun. After we got on the ground I dumped Luca, boo hoo, and headed to the hotel bar. Let’s just say after a long day it was so nice having a glass of wine.
P.S. Tomorrow I am going to see Venice and doing sightseeing, but on the 7th I am going to my grandparent’s house.


October 6, 2017
Dear Diary,
At about 6 this morning I shoved down a bagel and some orange juice. Then I got a taxi to Venice. The whole city was beautiful. In the morning I went to the Scuola Grande di San Rocco an amazing art museum. After a short lunch at Impronta Cafe and had a Caprese panini, it was delicious. Then I was off to the Grand Canal to a) See the canal, and b) To shop around the area. In short, the whole experience was amazing and eye-opening, since I have never spent that much money in my life. After I checked into my hotel and that’s where I am writing from.


October 7, 2017
Dear Diary,
I know that it is only 8 in the morning, but I had to write to you because I am so excited to see my grandparents. I am supposed to come to their house for dinner at 4 pm. Also now I wish I had more time to spend being adventurous and trying new things because I have had so much fun and have never felt so great my whole life. In a way without the money and the tumor, I would have never found my true self.


October 9, 2017
Dear Lena’s Diary,
Today’s entry is from her grandma and grandpa. At 4:30 when Lena still hadn’t shown up we were worried, so we went to the door to see if she was there since we had heard a thud that could’ve passed as a knock. When I opened the door I saw Lena laying flat on her face not moving at all. We called an ambulance as soon as we saw her and 5 hours later it was confirmed that her tumor, which we didn’t know about, had caused a malfunction in her heart, that then resulted in a heart attack, resulting in death. To say the least, we were and still are both extremely heartbroken. Even though we had never met her in person her mother had always sent a few pictures and a small newsletter about Lena to us. When we found this diary tucked into her travel pack we decided to read it since we wanted to know more about her and why she had come to Italy in the first place. As we read the whole story we felt very in sync with her and how she had felt her whole life about everything from her first boyfriend to her mother. The next thing we noticed was her bucket list and there was only one thing not crossed off flying on a private jet. According to her lawyer, she had wanted to be buried in Denver with her mother, so we decided that we would rent a private jet to bring her and us to Denver for the funeral and we are writing to you now from that exact jet.
Grandma and Grandpa

*It means peace out in Italian