Gamblin, 62, had never experienced a migraine and seldom any type of headaches at all. But she couldn’t imagine what else could have been causing her severe head pain and the “roaring” noise in her ears she had been enduring for a period of three weeks.
“I thought I was having migraines,” Gamblin said. “I wasn’t sure what a migraine was, but I would have roaring in my ears. It sounded like motors running.”
It turned out that those headaches and noises she experienced in October 2011 were symptoms of a cancerous brain tumor or astrocytoma. Four days after she was diagnosed, Gamblin underwent 7 1/2 hours of surgery to remove the tumor at Houston’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Gamblin has been cancer-free ever since and will be among those honored at the Goliad County Relay For Life event to be held April 6 at the Goliad Courthouse Square.
“I’m just thinking, ‘OK God, what do you have for me now?’ ” said Gamblin, who beat Stage 1 ovarian cancer in 2007. “There’s got to be a reason I’m still around.”
Gamblin volunteers for the Fannin United Methodist food pantry, which serves approximately 100 families throughout the county. On Oct. 17, 2011, she had just finished her food deliveries when she decided to go to Dr. Mark Heard’s office in Goliad to see if she could some treatment for the pain.
“I got through at about noon and I thought I would just run in there to Dr. Heard and see what’s going on,” Gamblin said. “Maybe I could some medicine.”
Gamblin described her symptoms to Dr. Heard, who told her she definitely wasn’t suffering from migraines and suggested she immediately undergo a CAT scan.
Gamblin and her husband, Dan, went to Cuero Community Hospital for the CAT scan. On the way back to Goliad, Gamblin received a cell phone call from Dr. Heard.
“He asked me if I was driving and I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Well, pull over. We need to talk.’ ” Gamblin recalled. “He asked me if I had the disk of the CAT scan. I told him he didn’t tell me to get it. He told me to go back and get it.”
The radiologist told Dr. Heard to get in touch with Gamblin immediately.
“You either have a brain bleed or a tumor,” Dr. Heard told Gamblin.
“I asked him if I was going to die right now,” Gamblin said. “He said no, but then asked me where I wanted go.”
Gamblin, who had beaten Stage 1 ovarian cancer in 2007, knew Houston’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center was where she wanted to be treated.
“I had already their number and I just called them,” Gamblin said. “We drove up there that night and got checked in at about 10:30 p.m. That was a long night.”
Three days later, Gamblin underwent surgery.
“It was in the ventricle, which in between the layers of the brain,” Gamblin said. “There was old calcified blood and a tumor. I laid in ICU for a week with a drain in my head.”
Gamblin was not able to get out of bed without help.
“I was thinking that I was just driving my car and delivering food to people the other day,” Gamblin said.
Fluid was drained from Gamblin’s brain for four days. Her bed had to be kept at a 30-degree angle so the fluid would drain properly.
“They said this type of tumor is found in children,” Gamblin said. “They said I could have had the tumor for a long time. It’s a very slow-growing tumor.”
Gamblin underwent physical therapy to make sure her motor skills were normal. Four days after the surgery, she was released to go home.
In February of 2012, Gamblin had a check-up MRI at M.D. Anderson and it detected a spot where the old tumor had been.
“The doctor was very alarmed,” Gamblin said. “I went back for three months in a row to another MRI and it wasn’t growing. The doctor backed me off to every three months.”
Gamblin went for an MRI last November and received a shock.
“The doctor said, ‘Look at the MRI from three months ago,’ ” Gamblin recalled. “I did and I said, ‘Yeh, there’s the spot.’ ”
The doctor then showed her the MRI was just taken hours earlier.
“There was no spot,” Gamblin said. “I went again for my last MRI on March 3 and the spot is gone. I’m healed. It’s a God thing.”