Lufkin woman survives brain aneurysm, advises others for early diagnosis

Lufkin woman survives brain aneurysm, advises others for early diagnosis

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Rhonda Cates was practically care free, as she hugged her two beautiful daughters. But, fifteen years ago, Cates had much more weighing on her mind.

"I had a migraine for seven days," said Cates. "And, by the third day, I was so sick with it, I couldn't do anything, function, nothing."

Doctors told Cates that they knew something was wrong, but couldn't tell what it was. It finally too and MRI, with contrast, to get a solid answer.

"They started running back and forth," said Cates. "I told my mother, who was with me, you don't wait for an x-ray. Something's wrong. There's something in my head. Oh, I have a tumor."

It wasn't a tumor, but it was just as dangerous. Cates had been living with a brain aneurysm, that had been slowly growing since she was born.

"I go back to see the neurosurgeon and he tells me, you need to have brain surgery," said Cates. "And, everything was like a whorl wind."

The surgery would include the surgeon going in to where the artery was ballooning and place a clip at its base, to keep it from bursting.

"Sixteen hours it took to get through the bone," said Cates. "It took six hours to get through here. When they got up to it, it was too big for the clippings that the doctor normally puts on it. So, Dr. Peterson had to build two clippings to put on the aneurysm to deflate it."

Cates' daughter, Jayce, doesn't remember much except a general fear for her mother.

"So, it was really hard because at six, my mom is my best friend and she still is my best friend," said Cates' daughter. "It was tough to go through, even after surgery, I was terrified to even look at my mom because she had staples all in her head and stuff."

Cates' daughter said that she values her mother even more because of what she went through.

"To think about now, being 21 and looking back, I don't know where I would be, if I didn't have my mom today," said Cates' daughter.

To Cates, it's all about taking one day at a time.

"I've learned to deal with the sight," said Cates. "I have straight vision, but I have nothing on the peripheral part. My whole left side was affected. After nearly fifteen years, I still struggle."

Since her surgery, Cates has let what happened to her help others.

"And when somebody tells me, they've had a migraine, I'm like, did you go to the doctor," said Cates. "Did you have something done? You need to do something because, if you don't, you could be in my situation."

Cates also said she lends support to others through a brain aneurysm Facebook page.

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