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Mary Ann
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ANAwareness Week


In or around 1982, I was invited to attend a unique conference.


A large Seattle based re-insurance company had selected a group of 25 business women from around the country to visit their Home Office and enjoy several days of events designed to educate and entertain us. My employer had no qualms allowing me to attend, especially since all expenses were paid by the hosting company.

Though I had achieved some career success by that time, it was infantile compared to the impact of business women on today’s global opportunities. At thirty-something, I was excited and also a bit anxious, hoping there was no quiz when I arrived.

Once checked into our luxurious individual hotel rooms, the group enjoyed a reception and overview of the days to come. The two events that caught my immediate attention were:

  1. Georgetown University Professor speaking on “Potty Parity”

(Very interesting and entertaining, sorry I don’t recall her name)


  1. Dinner cruise on the Puget Sound


As we moved into the second day of our conference, new faces became immediate friends and I recall a group of about 5 of us staying up half the night exchanging work “war” stories and girl talk.

The last evening of our stay was celebrated with the highly anticipated dinner cruise. The vessel’s dining area revealed round tables glistening with lovely candlelight, flowers, and pristine linen. My assigned seat was between two attendees I had noticed earlier.

I turned to the one on my right for a brief introduction and then met the attendee on my left. I have a standard statement prepared for anyone seated on my left, at a table, on an airplane, bus, etc. So I turned to Sally and said, “Since you’re sitting on my left side, I need to warn you that I’m totally deaf in that ear. So, if you’re speaking and I’m ignoring you, please just tap my hand to get my attention.”

She took my hand, looked into my face, and then said, “Did you have an Acoustic Neuroma?” “How on earth did you know?” I responded. She then explained that her best friend back in Pennsylvania, Ginny Fickel, had the same surgery in 1977 and also had no hearing in one ear.

What a coincidence you might say. I say it was God’s grace. There were no MRI’s or CT scans when I was diagnosed in 1975 and had surgery 4 weeks later.  Though these tumors are not usually cancerous, they can overtake important nerves as they grow leaving the patient with lifetime challenges. Today, an Acoustic Neuroma is often diagnosed prior to the appearance of symptoms. For instance, after a car accident an MRI is performed and a small unexpected AN is diagnosed and watched or treated.

Sally was well informed about the surgical procedure and accompanying details. She further surprised me when she revealed that Ginny had recently started a national support group for AN Patients. There was so little information available for us as the surgical procedure was only performed by a few doctors in the country. Ginny’s desire to help other patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options has been fulfilled.

Over the years the ANA has grown to serve nearly 5,000 members including patients, families, friends and health care professionals. Thank you Ginny!


Please join me in celebrating


ANAwareness Week     May 8 – 14 , 2016


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