Sunday, August 16, 2015

Case Study #19 - Lenamarie Playing the Drums

"Lenamarie Playing the Drums" - 2015, 30" x 24" Oil on canvas.
Lenamarie M. Mendoza, a 31 year-old girl from San Pascual Batangas, Philippines, was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis type 2 (nf2) in August 2002. NF2 is a rare genetic disease that causes tumor to grow mostly on 8th cranial nerve or the vestibulocochlear nerve and tumors on other parts of the brain and spinal cord and sometimes on different parts of the body. The vestibulocochlear nerve (auditory vestibular nerve) transmits sound and equilibrium (balance) information from the inner ear to the brain.

Lenamarie had minor surgeries of tumors on her body when she was a child but the findings only revealed a minor cyst. During her elementary days, she enjoyed drawing and music. She used to be a part of mini-band in her school playing lyre and also enjoyed playing “sikyo” (running game) with her friends. She lived as a normal individual.

When she was in high school she lived life as a normal teenager who seeks adventure. She was then a drummer of an all-girl band in her school. Music then was her passion, she noticed that there was a decreased level of hearing in her right ear, but she considered that normal cause due to the loud environment by playing the drums.

Sketch for Lena Playing the Drums.
When she enrolled in college she needed to stop for a year cause of surgery that removed her tumor at the back. Most of the time while in college, she would have headaches coupled with episodes of vomiting. She later found that she had NF2 which was revealed on the biopsy after the operation of her back tumor. She continued her college education even though she knew that eventually NF would take over and leave her deaf. She noticed, over time, that her hearing had become worse especially on the right. Lenamarie perservered and graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering on April 2006. She became a Registered Electrical Engineer at the same time a Registered Master Electrician on September 2006 and member of Institute of Integrated Electrical Engineers of the Philippines.

She worked on a construction company for a year and a college instructor for five years. Although her hearing was continually deteriorating, she lived her life with purpose and continues to live for the moment. After leaving her job, her MRI in 2013 revealed tumors on the left end just right of cranial nerves which deteriorated even more her hearing in both ears and also has made her lose her ability to walk normally due to tumors in her spine.

Right now, she is totally deaf in both ears and has a foot drop on the left which causes her difficulty in walking and in balance. She is slowly losing all her abilities and talents and can no longer draw because her locomotion is affected. She is realizing that she cannot play drums and do music with a band as much anymore for she cannot hear it, but she still loves to drum as it is her passion.

She watches tv with her eyes and hears nothing and knows that the radio is on when the LED light is turned on. She is losing it all, but she will not lose her spirit and faith. NF is a continuing life battle. In her words, "You’ll never know when the tumor strikes again, and every treatment is of without risks. You’ll never know when you will be deaf, blind or paralyzed. It is not considered cancer and people rarely notice, but it can be worse than that. It is draining to body and spirit but I need to fight and continue my life because there is a miracle, and miracle will always starts with you!"