For updates on Dee, please view Dee's Brain Defenders Facebook page:
Twenty-seven-year-old Deanne Landes, known to her friends and family as Dee, is a beloved daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. She enjoys playing soccer, spending time with friends and family, and spending summers out on the lake. Dee graduated from Indiana University South Bend with a degree in journalism and film studies in 2012.
Since graduating, Dee's life hasn't gone the way she hoped or expected. She saw herself in a media career and also as a world traveler, but has spent the past year in and out of hospitals due to a brain tumor.
Dee's journey began as a routine visit to her optometrist and the doctor told her that she had swollen optic nerves. She saw an ophthalmologist who referred her to a neurologist to get an MRI on her head to rule out a tumor. During this time, her eyesight was getting worse to the point where she couldn't drive/see very well at night. The MRI came back normal, but she was still dealing with the blurred vision and episodes where the muscles in her face (on the right side) would go numb and tense up. These episodes started happening more and more as time went on, so her neurologist ordered a lumbar puncture.
Her first lumbar puncture took much longer than expected because they couldn't get much fluid, but they sent her home afterward with strict instructions to lay flat for the day. Upon returning home, she had a horrible headache and experienced 3 of the "facial episodes" in a short period of time (these episodes would usually only happen once a week). Dee was taken to the emergency room only to be sent home without help or a diagnosis.
After talking it over with her family, she decided the neurologist she was seeing wasn't helping her find a diagnosis or make any progress toward a recovery, so she made an appointment with her family doctor. Her family doctor told her that the results of the lumbar puncture came back and that they finally had a diagnosis for her - pseudotumor cerebri. Shortly after, she had another MRI and the doctor decided her previous diagnosis was wrong and diagnosed Dee with encephalitis, putting her in the hospital for a week in September 2012 with high doses of antibiotics.
After being released from the hospital, Dee thought her life was returning to normal. She returned to work and normal activities only to have her symptoms return within a couple months. Some of her symptoms included debilitating headaches, double vision, nausea, and loss of appetite. This time, her doctor referred her to a neurosurgeon in Indianapolis.
After seeing the doctor in Indianapolis, he said he would discuss her case with his team of doctors and decide on a treatment plan for her. A week later, he called Dee and told her he wanted to perform surgery as soon as possible to put a shunt in her head to drain fluid and relieve pressure on her brain. The doctor also wanted to perform a brain biopsy, but her brain was too swollen, so two days later she went back into surgery. The biopsy was sent off to be analyzed and two weeks later the results came back that she had a rare brain tumor on her right frontal lobe known as an oligodendroglioma.
She went back to Indianapolis on May 6, 2013 for surgery to remove the brain tumor. Unfortunately, the tumor was not a mass, but rather a "mossy" growth that had "fingers" that extended into her brain. The doctor was unable to remove all of the tumor and informed her family that the type of tumor she has will never go away. Her neurosurgeon has informed her that the life expectancy for someone with this type of tumor after they have been diagnosed is about 10 years.
On August 4, 2014, Dee was admitted back into the hospital in Indianapolis due to a pocket of fluid that had accumulated around her brain near her right ear. She had the fluid drained and a new shunt put in and was sent home after a week in the hospital. However, the day after she got home from the hospital, she had a stroke and lost all function on the left side of her body. She was transferred back to the hospital in Indianapolis via ambulance. Doctors discovered that the stroke was caused from her tumor growing back and putting excess pressure on her brain. She will be transferred to a rehabilitation hospital in Fort Wayne soon to start physical therapy and will begin receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatments to try and stop the tumor from growing.
Update as of March 10, 2015:
Dee has completed her rehabilitation after her stroke and underwent her first round of chemotherapy and radiation. Her tumor is considered "stable" at this point, which means it isn't growing but it also isn't shrinking. Dee is now 26 and is no longer on her stepfather's insurance and trying to get Medicaid for her is proving to be a very difficult process, so she is currently uninsured. Because of this, she has had to put off check-ups and her next round of chemotherapy and radiation. She desperately needs to stay on top of her check-ups, MRIs, and treatments, but this delay in insurance has kept these things from happening. All money from the fundraiser will help her get the medications and treatments she needs until her insurance situation is taken care of.
Dee is an extremely independent individual who would much rather spend her time worrying about and caring for others than having anyone focus their attention on her. Please consider contributing to her cause and spread the word about Dee.
Update as of May 31, 2016:
Dee's health has been declining recently. Dee went through rehabilitation after her stroke in August of 2014, but she has remained very weak since then and is legally blind because of the stroke. Recently, her physical strength has deteriorated to the point where she can barely stand on her own and isn't able to leave the house much due to her being a fall risk. Her poor eyesight and lack of mobility have made it so she needs constant care, which is provided by her mother who stays home with her. She needs a wheelchair to get around, but her family's current home is not conducive to her wheelchair and is not handicap accessible. Her stepdad is gone for much of the time for work, which leaves Dee's mom to help her in and out of her wheelchair and in and out of the house for doctor's appointments and visits to her surgeon and oncologist in Indianapolis. This is not an easy job, but her family wants to keep her home with them as long as possible so that she doesn't have to stay at a care facility. Her parents are struggling to juggle their two younger children, maintaining their home, working, and caring for Dee, and this job would be so much easier for them if they had a home that was more accessible for Dee and her wheelchair. Any money raised from this point forward will help Dee and her family find a new home and will help offset medical expenses. Please continue to pray that Dee's physical and cognitive states improve and that her family can find a new home to rent that has more space for Dee's needs. Thank you all for your love and support!