Thursday, March 6, 2003

Diagnosis: Broca's Area


Dad had to go to Toronto for his pre-operative visit. Another long day - driving, sitting, waiting and returning home. Today the situation is reversed from our last visit. Brian and I travel to Toronto to help Mom and Dad prepare for Dad’s surgery to remove what they decided, through the MRI, was a brain tumour. It is located in the prefrontal cortex, Broca's area, in the left frontal lobe above the basal forebrain.

They know that his language will be affected, as the tumour is in Broca's area, and his surgeon tells us not to worry about that when that happens. It is ‘normal’, they say. They are sure which language skills will be affected but thought that gradually some or all of his language skills will come back. I find out later that the prefrontal cortex affects a great deal of cognitive functioning, as well as language. Dad has trouble retrieving nouns. This proved to be a clue later in 2006 for me. Brian takes time off work. He flew to Toronto to be with my parents for Dad’s preoperative visit. Dad has to have some tests. I am ill with bronchitis and cannot go. Dad has blood taken and other tests are done to prepare for his surgery.

With dad's diagnosis of a brain tumour dad was given an information book published by the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. It provides information about the cell and how cells function. I had done a great deal of work on teaching and the brain and how it functions in order to better understand the minds of my students. Dad's tumour was in the prefrontal cortex which plays an important role in memory, intelligence, concentration, temper and personality. This is a sophisticated part of our brain that facilitates the setting of goals, the ability to make plans and judge priorities. It guides our eye and head movements and sense of orientation.

Dad's cancer is said to below grade hemispheric astrocytoma. He had mixed gliomas classified into oligo-astrocytoma. Treatment usually involves surgery, depending upon the characteristics and numbers of astrocytic cells present.

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