Christyn Luu: Life After a Brain Tumor

As a 10-year-old girl living in Anchorage, AK, Christyn Luu enjoyed doing what most normal girls did at her age.  “Reading, listening to music, hanging around with friends, and going to the mall,” is what Luu lists as her hobbies.  While enjoying her childhood, running around and playing outside, her family saw her as a healthy child. All that changed when she suddenly could not hear from her left ear and developed poor vision in her left eye.

Christyn Luu, born on September 14, 1993, was a healthy, newborn child.  She grew up in a traditional Vietnamese home with her father, mother, sisters and brother.  It was when she was in fourth grade that her health seemed to have changed.  With the knowledge of change in her physical sensations and appearance, Christyn’s parents, Trian Thi Tran and Cam Luu, brought Christyn to a doctor for a check-up.  “She was partially deaf on the left side and unbalanced- no obvious signs- took to the doctor and had testing.”  It was soon discovered that a tumor had grown in her brain.  Christyn explained, “we went through multiple check-ups, lots of MRI’s, CAT scans to check the size of the tumor and what initially was going on.”

The diagnosis changed the atmosphere in the Luu household.  “I felt bad even though I did not know it was that bad, but when I went to Seattle, I found out it was way worse,” said her father, Cam Luu, 60. There was not much anyone could do but support Christyn though her ordeal.  Prayer, care and love was given to young Christyn in hope for a healthier future.  “I talked to her when she came home. I liked to be with her all the time,” said Tran.

After diagnoses, Christyn and her family were told that the brain tumor would become critical if surgery did not take place very soon.  They were warned that Christyn would experience paralysis if she did not have surgery to remove the tumor within a month after she was diagnosed.  Action was taken quickly and Christyn was flown to Seattle, Washington to successfully remove the dangerous tumor.  It was a weeklong process for the operation.  The first surgery took 14 hours and the second was 12.

Christyn’s mother also told her to not be afraid of her problems and the way she looked.  “I believe in Holy Mother of Guadalupe, and I promised her I light a candle for her every week until I don’t live here anymore- I pray to Mother Guadalupe that my kid will be healthy.”

A one-month recovery was needed in Seattle before Christyn could return back home to Anchorage, AK. Christyn’s father was not able to stay full-time but could visit her every other week due to work obligations.  After surgery, Christyn noticed that there was something different about how her body felt.  “I couldn’t feel the left side.  Definitely wasn’t as strong as the right, after surgery.  The nerves were kind of non-existent- I couldn’t feel anything,” she explained.

Today, Christyn studies as a sophomore at the University of Alaska Anchorage with full learning abilities. She still experiences facial palsy, which is a weakening of the nerves on the left side of her face. She is unable to fully open her left eye and her mouth turns down slightly.

Just like any other college student, Christyn has a career choice and goals of her own that she is pursuing.  “Psychology.  I am now in my second year in college at the moment.”   Finally, she was asked how she personally feels about herself today, after having experienced a moment in life that is so rare.  “I still feel self conscious, but I don’t have trouble fitting in.  Not a lot of people really notice or say anything.”

With the help of her loved ones to guide her and stay by her side, she was able to get through this experience and is now living a young, healthy life.