LIU Post Student Overcomes Two Brain Tumor Surgeries to Graduate on Time
Amanda Walters of Brooklyn has a 3.7 GPA and a determined, upbeat attitude
Morgan Lyle,Assistant Director of Public Relations
LIU Post, Long Island University
Brookville, N.Y. -- When LIU Post held its annual Women's Achievement Dinner in March, the motto for the evening was a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: "You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
One student honored at the dinner identified with that statement more than most. Amanda Walters, a speech-language pathology major from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, endured brain surgery – twice – during her junior year, yet will graduate on time, with a 3.7 GPA, at LIU Post’s 55th Commencement exercises Friday, May 10.
In her eight semesters, she never even filed for an incomplete class.
"The hardships I faced, and still face as a student now as a result of the surgeries, along with chemotherapy and radiation, are something my close peers and bosses know about, along with some of my professors," Walters said. “Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t make a huge deal out of it. But when I sit down and think about all I’ve gone through, I realize I want people to know that if you put your mind to something, you can achieve it."
Early in the fall semester of her junior year, Walters began to experience troubling symptoms -- speech problems, weakness and slowness on the left side of her body. "It felt uncomfortable to lift my left arm up and down," she recalled. "I had trouble holding my pieces while I worked on my ceramics class projects. My left hand had trouble holding my pieces together when I was working on my marine life piece. Worst of all, when I ran my right hand over my left palm I would feel a tingling sensation, almost as if I was running my left hand over a rug and feeling static electricity.”
It turned out she had a tumor – in medical terms, a malignant high-grade glioma in the right front lobe. That first tumor, said Walters, was “huge.” The risky surgery was successful and Walters completed the fall semester despite the challenges of recovery.
Five months after the first, Walters was diagnosed with another brain tumor in the same area, and again endured surgery to have it removed – while successfully completing her coursework.
“I knew from the start of recovery after the first surgery that I wanted to miss as little school possible,” she said. “I also knew that getting my strength back would be best at school where I’d have stairs and walking to class to conquer. I had three weeks recovery for the first tumor, but with the second one, my peers didn't even know I was gone. You don't realize how strong perseverance and a positive attitude can make you.”
As graduation approaches, Walters is still undergoing treatment, but she stays positive.
“I am not one to throw a pity party for myself,” she said. “I have no problem telling people my story, but I don’t look for people to feel bad for me. My story shows that anything can happen, good or bad. And if something bad does happen, good can come from it. This experience has made me grow as a person and as a future therapist."
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