Brain cancer fighter Vanessa Bishop celebrates with her mother Vicky at the 2021 CCF Gala.

On March 2, 2023, my morning was filled with inspiration. I have written about Vanessa Bishop in the past. But, without fail, every time I see Vanessa, her courage fills me with hope and her positivity pushes me to make an impact, even in the tiniest way. I couldn’t let this visit slip by without sharing how Vanessa continues to lead by example.

I first met Vanessa in June 2019 at the CCF Research Symposium. Vanessa, and her mom Vicki, drove from West Virginia to Maryland to share the journey of Vanessa’s brain tumor diagnoses. View Vanessa’s presentation video.

By that time, Vanessa had been fighting medulloblastoma for three years.

Since that initial 2016 diagnosis, Vanessa has overcome incredible odds, endured surgeries, proton treatment radiation, dealt bravely with five recurrences, and she comes out the other side even stronger. Today, Vanessa lives with pain, yet she does not complain.

Vanessa shared with me that she recently changed oncologists. Ever since seeing her new oncologist, she feels heard, which is so important for any patient, but of course particularly for a patient living with a brain tumor.

Vanessa recently received good news. A recent MRI scan shows no cancer, which is incredible. However, the pain in her neck (brain stem) and brain persists. The new oncologist feels that this pain may be treatment related, so they decided, together, to take a month-long break from treatment. Instead, Vanessa is managing with steroids. Vanessa will resume treatment later this month.

Vanessa, now 27, lives in a terrific apartment in Martinsburg, WV. She lives independently in a delightful community, which is just about 1 hour and 20 minutes away from me (depending on how fast I drive ).

During our visit, Vanessa gave me the most beautiful gift- a personalized photo book memorializing all of our visits. The book includes photos and the most powerful messages. I now keep the book on my desk and look at it frequently.

Some of the messages include:

  • Pain shapes a woman into a warrior
  • The Devil whispered in my ear “you’re not strong enough to withstand the storm”
    Today I whispered in the Devil’s ear, “I am the storm.” -Brain cancer warrior

I left Vanessa, my eyes filled with tears (that she didn’t see), but filled with hope and determination too. Vanessa’s battle with cancer, along with millions of others, is a battle I wish did not exist. But after spending even a minute with Vanessa, I can’t help but to feel more focused, more energized, and more devoted to raising funds ensuring that advances in pediatric cancer research continue. Improved treatments, the promise of survival, and committing to finding cures for all cancer diagnoses is what I focus on every day.  

While she may not realize it, Vanessa fuels me with motivation to ensure that we continue to raise funds to invest in pediatric cancer treatments and cures. Living with a brain tumor must never be a young adult’s best option.





Tasha Museles

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