Kathi Goertzen returns to the anchor desk

Kathi Goertzen returns to the anchor desk

On Sept. 23, I was taken into the operating room at Swedish Medical Center for surgery to partially remove a brain tumor called meningioma.

This is the fourth time I'd had this surgery in ten years. Though the tumor is technically benign, it is also atypical. That means it's persistent. And since they're not able to remove the whole thing, it's eventually grown back.

My wonderful family and friends - kids, parents, all my sisters and Pastor Bill - can all tell you I was in that operating room for about six hours.

A lot of people have asked me, "Did you get all that tumor out? Why can't you get rid of that thing once and for all?"

We certainly could get all of the tumor out. The problem is the remainder of the tumor is entwined with a different set of nerves that control swallowing.

Recovery from brain surgery is tough, but I had so much love and support, and so many prayers.

I got thousands of messages in cards and e-mail that lifted me up like you can't imagine. I read them all.

 This time, the tumor and surgery took a different toll. Doctors stretched my facial nerve so far that the right side of my face was pretty much paralyzed.

I started taking pictures of myself in the mirror about a month after the surgery. Believe me, it was hard to even look in the mirror. I wondered if I would ever anchor the news again.

But the number one concern was to keep what's left of the tumor from growing again. So my doctors and I decided to treat it one last time with radiation.

For 13 days, I laid under a mask for about an hour a day while the radiation beams focused on the remaining tumor. It's called the Cyberknife.

In my case, when we sent in hundreds of beams from the Cyberknife, it went through all parts of my head.

But the beams spared the normal tissue, and the only significant dose of radiation I received came from those beams that collected on the abnormal tissue. So the beams didn't hurt the normal brain cells at all.

Radiation doesn't really hurt at the time, but I got some headaches after. I figured it was those beams of radiation doing their job.

Meanwhile, my face continued to slowly improve. I lost hearing in my right ear. My vocal cords are a little off, but my smile's coming back.

Believe it or not, I've even been doing physical therapy for my face! Sounds kind of crazy, but my physical therapist thinks we can remind that nerve to fire those muscles that a news anchor really needs.

Oh, and I did have one more surgery on my right eye, which isn't blinking too well. It looks worse than it was. And even though my eye is still not quite right, for now, it's as good as it gets!

I'm just hopeful that research will soon tell us what causes these tumors to grow in the first place. I think that's a good plan. And in the meantime, if you notice my right eye not blinking, it's not that I'm trying to wink at you.

So, what's next? One think I've learned through all of this is that we never really know, do we? So we have to love each moment.

But I will be back for MRI scans, and my doctors will be watching my noggin very closely.