Man using a tablet to take online course

Ivy Blog

Active Mom Finds Hope After Receiving Brain Cancer Diagnosis

Andy Ptacek
Andy Ptacek

As a young mother raising two boys with the love of her life and running a successful business, Andy Ptacek had the world at her fingertips. It wasn’t until that fateful day a doctor told her she had an inoperable brain tumor, that her life she had always dreamed of was now flashing before her eyes. 

As an active, physically-fit young adult, Andy was surprised to learn that she had a heart arrhythmia called Atrial fibrillation or AFib. After having a cardiac ablation to treat her AFib, she started to experience a migraine for the first time and was quickly taken in for a brain scan to rule out a stroke. It was then that Andy and her family learned that she wasn’t experiencing a stroke — her migraine was actually a symptom of brain cancer.  

“When I heard the diagnosis, the first thing I thought about was my kids,” Andy recalls. “I prayed that I would have enough time left to raise my kids,” she added. “You hear the diagnosis and it just feels like a death sentence.”

Andy with Dr. Nader Sanai
Andy with Dr. Nader Sanai

Upon learning that her tumor was inoperable,  Andy wasn’t ready to give up so she searched for a second opinion and found Dr. Nader Sanai, director of the Ivy Brain Tumor Center at Barrow Neurological Institute. After reviewing Andy’s scans, Dr. Sanai sat her down to explain that not only could he remove her tumor, but she could be assured that she would be back to her normal life again soon. 

I had hope for the first time. He said, ‘I know I can help you, and you’re going to live a long, full life.’  Those words meant a lot to me.

Andy Ptacek
Patient Survivor

Andy is now three years post-surgery and is cancer-free. The past three years have been a gift to Andy and her family, allowing her to be a part of important landmarks in her sons’ lives. Andy also has the comfort of knowing that if her cancer returns, she has the best team in the world fighting alongside her.

“Time is precious,” she said. “I’m able to be here for these important milestones in my kids’ lives – seeing Tavin become a ‘tween’ and watching Grant get bigger. Seeing them through the stages of their lives means everything.”

Click below to watch a video of Andy’s story.

Andy with her family

This story is for general health information only and is not meant to be used as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your physician or healthcare provider before beginning any treatment protocol or with any questions. This story reflects the health status of this particular patient at the time the story was written and photographs were taken. The patient’s condition may have changed over time.

The Author

Ivy Center