"Doctors could have taken a formulated approach to cancer treatment. But instead, they listened to my concerns and created a plan individual to my needs."
– Rebecca Webber, wife, teacher & vocal performer
As a music teacher, Rebecca tells her students there is no such thing as a stupid question. So when doctors discovered she had a brain tumor, Rebecca quickly became her own best expert. She says successful cancer treatment resulted from skilled physicians who listened to her concerns and provided reassuring answers to her questions.
Rebecca first suffered a grand-mal seizure only seven weeks after getting married; Rebecca's husband, Garth, found her convulsing in bed. He rushed Rebecca to the ER where they diagnosed a brain tumor between the frontal and parietal lobes of her brain.
"Inside I panicked," Rebecca says, "Everything I knew about brain tumors I had seen on ER. I thought I was going to die."
Though Rebecca's tumor was a slow-growing Grade 1 tumor that may have existed since her childhood, doctors worried its location could cause irreversible damage to her speech and motor skills.
"I trusted my doctors explicitly," Rebecca says. "I knew if there was any treatment in the world, it was available to me right here in Utah." The morning following her seizure, Rebecca underwent comprehensive brain surgery performed by one of Intermountain's nationally ranked neurosurgeons.
One and a half weeks after her surgery, Rebecca began walking on her own. She also began speech therapy sessions to exercise her brain and recall vocabulary. As a singer, Rebecca wondered if she would ever perform again, but says encouragement from doctors and family gave her the motivation to keep trying.
The nurses at Intermountain made me feel normal," Rebecca says. "When the doctor removed my bandages, the nurse took time to braid the hair that I had left." Rebecca says they listened to her wedding stories and even asked to see pictures of the event. Each year after her surgery, Rebecca valiantly checked off her success as a cancer survivor. "It had been a challenging road," Rebecca says, "But I felt confident I had overcome the worst."
Then three years later, a routine MRI showed new growth on Rebecca's tumor. "I was devastated. I didn't know how I would remain strong through a second fight with cancer," Rebecca says.
"My doctors could have taken a formulated approach to cancer treatment," Rebecca says, "But instead, they listened to my concerns and created a plan individual to my needs." Rebecca's oncologist recommended a light chemotherapy treatment, which consisted of taking oral medication five days per month.
But Rebecca struggled with what doctors discovered to be psychosomatic side effects related to her chemotherapy. Because of her extreme anxiety, doctors recommended that Rebecca pause chemotherapy treatments for a short time and receive counseling for her emotional needs.
Several months later, Rebecca felt prepared to resume treatments. However, new MRI's showed her tumor had remained stable. Doctors continue to monitor the tumor's growth, but say Rebecca can look forward to a bright future.
"Today I have a greater sense of reality, a confidence to share my opinion, and an ability to take advantage of the moment." Rebecca says. "For years, I wouldn't sing because I was afraid of what might happen on stage. Today I approach life differently; I make the best of every opportunity."
Rebecca says she is proud to be back on stage. Her most recent performance was with the Salt Lake Children's Theater. She says, "I don't want to be known as Rebecca Webber, cancer survivor. I want to be known as Rebecca Webber, wife, teacher, and vocal performer."