When 24-year-old Christina Anderson was diagnosed with a golf ball-sized brain tumor just three months before her wedding, she vowed to not let the health ailment stop her from marrying her fiancé — even if that meant she would have to “crawl down the aisle,” she recently said.
Anderson, a nurse living in Watertown, South Dakota, told TODAY she was diagnosed with a hemangioblastoma, a rare, benign tumor typically found in the brain, spinal cord or retina. It accounts for roughly 2 percent of all brain tumors, per the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center.
Anderson wed on Aug. 10 after undergoing an eight-hour surgery in May — just days after she learned she had the tumor, which was two inches in diameter, TODAY reported.
Shortly before her diagnosis, Anderson began to experience sudden but severe symptoms of vertigo — an intense spinning sensation or feeling off-balance — and vomiting. She was unable to walk a straight line, and the sensation made it unable for her to drive.
After undergoing a CT scan at a local hospital, doctors informed her she had a brain tumor located behind her right ear. The tumor was compressing her brain stem, she was told, which explained her symptoms.
“I was in denial,” Anderson said of her reaction after receiving the news.
Shortly after, Anderson drove with her father to the Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, Minn., where she underwent surgery to remove the tumor.
Though Anderson’s neurosurgeon, Dr. Manish Sharma, was forced to shave off some of her hair to perform the surgery, he made sure to remove as little as possible ahead of the bride-to-be’s wedding day.
“I asked Dr. Sharma if they’d have to chop any hair off and he said yes. That was the part that I was stuck on the most because I was like, ‘I’m getting married in August, I can’t have my hair missing,’” Anderson said.
Following surgery, Sharma was concerned Anderson would not regain her health and balance before her wedding.
But Anderson’s determination was unwavering. She refused to reschedule her big day, telling TODAY she planned to “crawl down that aisle before I had to use a walker.”
“It was not an option for me,” Anderson added.
“That is a testament to her determination and will,” Sharma told TODAY. “People who want to get better, they get better, regardless of the odds.”
On her wedding day, Anderson — wearing jeweled Crocs rather than high-heels — walked down the aisle to marry her now-husband, Brandon Jensen. A hairpiece and a creative up-do successfully hid the scar and missing hair on her head. Following the wedding, the couple honeymooned in the Bahamas.
Though Anderson will require life-long monitoring to ensure the brain tumor doesn’t return, she’s in good health, according to TODAY.
Christina Anderson did not respond to Fox News’ request for additional comment.