At the age of 13, her life as a normal teenager came to an abrupt end when a brain tumor the size of a grapefruit was discovered near her optic nerves and pituitary glands. ďMy eyesight started getting real bad and I went to several doctors before an MRI showed the tumor. Within a week, I was in surgery,Ē Neuroth said.
Her surgery took place on May 16, 1992, at the Childrenís Hospital in San Diego, Calif., where they removed as much of the tumor as possible. Neuroth said she was concerned with how much hair they would have to shave off the top of her head prior to the surgery. ďThey spared me most of my hair,Ē she joked.
Six months later, she was back in surgery removing excess fluid that had built up on the brain and to install a shunt. ďThe shunt was in case the fluid would come back,Ē she said. ďIt would be a means to release the fluid without undergoing major surgery again.Ē
In February of this year, she underwent a third surgery at Abbott Northwestern in Minneapolis to remove the shunt and another cyst which had formed behind her eye. She was in surgery seven hours.
ďThere are two nodules left and one is on the optic nerve,Ē she said. ďDoctors didnít remove the one nodule as it would have left me blind.Ē
ďIf any new cysts form or if the nodules should grow, Iím told Iíll need a low dose treatment of chemotherapy. The chemo is a last resort treatment before surgery,Ē Neuroth said.
Neurothís grandparents moved to the Paynesville area three and a half years ago. Her grandmother is a bus driver with Paynesville Motor and Transfer and her grandfather works for Dale Johnson in construction.
After her first two surgerys, Neuroth lost interest in school and work. ďI missed a lot of school and had a hard time focusing on school,Ē she said. Her parents decided a change of scenery was what she needed and sent her to live with her grandparents two and a half years ago.
When looking for a new doctor to keep an eye on her tumor, Dr. Tom Sult gave her grandparents a list of doctors to check out. She reports to Dr. Bergman, a neurosurgeon in the Twin Cities, every three months to make sure everything looks good. Her next doctorís appointment is in late August.
Even though the surgeries went well, Neuroth had a hard time dealing with her appearance. ďI was very self-conscious about my scars and lack of hair where there should have been bangs. Iím finally getting up enough nerve to be seen in public without my hat,Ē Neuroth added.
ďI was excited after the second surgery as my hair grew back nice and long. Now I have just enough to cover the scar. I call it Ďmonkey hairí as it is still short and goes in every which direction,Ē she said. The only side effect she has from the surgery is she canít smell anything.
ďI have to trust my family to tell me when Iím wearing too much perfume or when something smells good or bad. It is a minor problem compared to what could have happened, I could be blind right now,Ē she added.
ďIím looking forward to my senior year in Paynesville as it is going to be fun. With luck, I wonít have any more problems and I can have a normal school year,Ē she said. ďLots of people donít know what itís like going through something like this. Itís a reality check which made me grow up fast. It made me realize life is fragile and you have to take one day at a time.Ē
Neuroth works at Jimmyís Pizza as a delivery person and is quickly learning the Paynesville area.
After being crowned Miss Paynesville, Neuroth called home to California to tell her parents the news. They were really proud, she said. ďI owe all this to Erin Pelton, as she encouraged me to give the pageant a try. I went into this Ďblindí, as I had no idea what I would be doing,Ē Neuroth added.
ďEverybody was a little bit nervous going before the judges, but they made it easy for us to be ourselves and to relax,Ē Neuroth said.
Itís been a week since the coronation and Neuroth still has a hard time believing she is Miss Paynesville. ďI look down at the crown and recall a dream I had as a little girl about being a queen someday. I still canít believe it came true,Ē she said.
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