Fran White sits for a photo in her home office in Oxford on Friday. Over the last year White has struggled with a brain tumor and surgery, and found faith to be a big help in getting through the experience. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

A few weeks after major brain surgery, Fran White asked her husband, on a scale from one to ten, how she seemed to be functioning. The answer was an easy nine, at least.

Just a few months earlier, White’s husband gave a much lower rating when she asked. She was unable to drive, had chronic fatigue, and little to no memory — all stemming from a brain tumor diagnosis.

His answer, as well as the support and faith from her local church community and others, pushed White forward with treatment.

White, 72, lives in Oxford and had suffered from hearing and balance issues since a car accident in 2013, and had sought out various medical opinions.

As she pursued it, more symptoms began showing up, which led to the life-altering diagnosis this year. On Labor Day weekend, an MRI showed White had a meningioma, a tumor that forms on membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord just inside the skull. (White’s sister had one a decade earlier.)

The good news was that, like many meningioma’s, it was noncancerous. The bad news: it was impacting her daily life. If not removed, the symptoms would only get worse.

She went to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and a few weeks later was scheduled for brain surgery.

It was then that she began getting cold feet, but found a community willing to rally around her. White is member of the Oxford Advent Christian Church, and the church community, along with her friends and family, helped her stay positive. A Facebook page updated the community on her treatment and progress.

“I felt like I had thousands of people praying for me throughout this process,” she said.

White grew up just outside Boston, moving to Maine 26 years ago. She’s been a clinical social worker for 38 years, doing Telehealth therapy.

When White was still having second thoughts about the surgery, her husband stepped in, describing what he saw as a decline in her ability to function. She decided to go ahead with the surgery. She later found out that the tumor was impacting eight of her brain nerves.

From that point on, she said, “I was at total peace” with the process. Due to COVID-19, she would be alone in the hospital.

“I thought God is going to take care of my husband, my son and me, no matter how this turns out,” she said. “I kind of just went in with my faith. I’m typically a pretty anxious person. Prayer works.”

The next day, she woke up from surgery and immediately recognized a difference.

“I was better already, even though this was an in-depth, seven-hour surgery,” she said.

It’s been 11 weeks since the surgery, and White said her recovery is still hard to believe. She was out of work on a three month medical leave, but is now scheduled to go back on Jan. 5. All of her clients waited for her return.

“I really feel very blessed, very fortunate,” she said. “I more than have my life back.”

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