Brain Tumor Awareness Month, Day 3.

Today, I’ll share an excerpt from my memoir manuscript, a section I struggled to revise this morning.

You may be able to help me. I mention a 60 Minutes special on OCD, which aired in 1994 or 1995. OCD was one of the many diagnoses under discussion for Matt, before his brain tumor was discovered.

But I’m not positive the show was 60 Minutes—it could have been another show or network. If you read this except and remember the show, I’d love to hear from you. It might help me track down a link or documentation so I can be accurate.

One night, when Matthew was in fourth grade, I watched a 60 Minutes episode on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. One of the subjects was a beautiful blond-haired girl, about Matthew’s age, with multiple manifestations of OCD. She compulsively retied her shoes dozens of times a day, washed her hands excessively, and repeated certain phrases every time she left a room. The next OCD story was different. This child, also a girl of eight or nine, was extremely sensitive to the feel of fabric against her body, with very little tolerance for clothing. In one scene, she valiantly tried to pull on leggings, but dissolved into a fit of hysteria. Her mother poised nearby, looking stoic but defeated, as her child rolled around on the bed, stomped on the floor, and flung clothing across the room, shrieking and whining.

I imagined the effort it took for the mother to maintain her calm. I imagined that if she lost her resolve for even a moment, she would explode. I imagined that because it was exactly how I felt with Matthew.

Did Matthew have OCD? If a film crew came to our house on hockey night, would we be their next story? 


  • 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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