Brain Tumor Awareness Month, Day 2

Today, May 3, 2018, my son Matt starts a new job.

He’s 31 and has been on his own for awhile, so it may not sound like a big deal, but it is.

It’s a big deal because there were times when my husband Michael and I didn’t know what to expect of our son’s future. You think that way when your child has a brain tumor.

After Matt was diagnosed at age 11 with a pylocytic astrocytoma, we were told he would “bounce back.” Those were the exact words of the neurosurgeon on the morning an MRI answered a question that had dogged us for three years: “What’s wrong with Matt?

The neurosurgeon said that kids with these types of tumors “bounce back.” And we read  stories of kids who did indeed bounce back, rather quickly, and seemingly effortlessly.

But Matt didn’t bounce back. His tumor had gone undiagnosed for too long, and the resulting hydrocephalus was severe. We all had a long road ahead of us, still.

Jumping ahead 20 years, and today, Matt starts a really good job, with benefits and retirement and purpose. 

It’s a big deal and I couldn’t be prouder.


  • An emerging writer in upstate, NY, Karen DeBonis tells her story on her website, in publications like the NY Times, (a Tiny Love Story), in her “Become Emboldened” projects, and elsewhere. "Growth: A Mother, Her Son, and the Brain Tumor They Survived" is Karen’s transformational memoir about the clash between her naive expectations of motherhood and her son's needs, which destroys her confidence and threatened her stability (Available for representation.)

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  1. Patricia Smith Wood on May 3, 2018 at 9:36 PM

    Wow! Congratulations to Matt. That’s so wonderful. Mom’s spend their entire lives (I’ve observed and experienced) worrying about their kids. Your family has certainly had more than their share of that. Perhaps you can take a breath and relax a little now. I’m wishing that for all of you!

    • Karen DeBonis on May 4, 2018 at 9:13 AM

      Thanks for your comment, Patricia! I’ll give you (and anyone else who catches this comment) a sneak peek of the end of my story: In 2017, 20 years post-diagnosis, when Matt made a particular step forward in life, I did that very thing – I took a deep breath when I could finally, truly, relax.

  2. Michael DeBonis on May 3, 2018 at 9:52 PM

    I’m so proud of Matt too! Love you son.

    • Karen DeBonis on May 4, 2018 at 9:15 AM

      We’re two proud parents, aren’t we dear? XXOO

  3. Sarah Dahl on May 4, 2018 at 12:55 AM

    That’s awesome!

  4. Janis on May 4, 2018 at 1:45 AM

    Matthew!!!! Congratulations!! Can’t wait to hear all about your new job!

    • Karen DeBonis on May 4, 2018 at 9:15 AM

      When your head is cleared again, I’ll tell you all about it!

  5. Betsy Brundage on May 4, 2018 at 3:37 AM

    Our daughter was also diagnosed with this at age 11, but only because she fell on the playground, hit her head and had a ct scan in the ER. Four days later she was in surgery and at least somewhat because of the accidental discovery, she was one of those kids that did bounce back. We know things could have been different. Congrats and my best to your son and your family.

    • Karen DeBonis on May 4, 2018 at 9:19 AM

      Thanks so much for sharing your story, Betsy. I’m so sorry for what you’ve gone through, but thrilled that your daughter had a good outcome!! As parents, we naturally worry about things like our kids bumping their heads, and minor accidents, but we never expect what those accidents can lead to. I’ve sure you’ve often thought what a blessing that playground accident was!

  6. Pat Rampolla on May 5, 2018 at 8:56 PM

    We are so proud of you Matt for continuing to grow even though you had such a serious setback. Good luck in your new job😍😍😍😍

  7. Karen DeBonis on May 6, 2018 at 11:46 AM

    Thanks Pat – we’re so proud of him too!!

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