By Megan Alley
The village of Bethel council showed their support for a local teenager who has a benign brain tumor and is trying to raise awareness about brain tumors and cancer by wearing grey to their regular monthly meeting on May 11.
May is National Brain Tumor Awareness Month, and supporters across the county are asked to wear the color grey to show their backing for brain tumor and cancer patients, survivors and continued medical research to help cure the disease.
Miara Miles, 19, of Bethel, was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor in her left temporal lobe when she was seven years old. After years of doctors monitoring the tumor, Miles went in for laser ablation brain surgery with a biopsy on May 10.
Miles said she’s always tried to raise awareness about brain tumors and cancer.
“I think it’s important because I’ve gone through this, and I’ve seen so many of my friends pass away from it too,” she said. “You never see grey ribbons…I think we need to care about our brains as much as we would any other type of body part.”
Miles recently decided to reach out to Alan Ausman, Bethel mayor, to see if the council would commit its support.
Ausman’s sister is also a brain tumor patient.
“He was definitely onboard to do something,” Miles said. “It feels really nice.”
Ausman read a proclamation during the meeting, announcing May as Brain Cancer and Tumor Awareness Month in Bethel.
“Whereas, brain tumors…are diagnosed in more than 79,000 Americans of all ages, races, socioeconomic status and gender each year, and continue to rise annually,” he said. “Whereas, brain tumors are among the deadliest forms of cancer, with just 34-percent five-year relative survival rate, and are the leading cause of cancer related deaths among young people under the age of 20.”
He added, “Whereas, increased public awareness of brain tumors through advocacy and support for targeted research, as well as education about the impact brain tumors have on patients and their families’ lives, are critical to action and support for a cure.”
Ausman noted that many people affected by the disease amaze him.
“I think it’s a great thing to be aware of; how many people it affects in our community,” he said.
In her continuing effort to raise awareness about the diseases, Miles shared reactions to and myths about brain tumors and cancer that she’d like to change.
“I don’t like when people find out you have a brain tumor, and they automatically change your words around. They’re like, ‘Oh, you have brain cancer,’ and I’m like no,” she said. “I want people to know there’s a difference between brain tumors and brain cancer.”
She added, “I don’t want them to think that because it’s benign that it doesn’t cause any issues. I want them know that they’re different but yet they can both cause issues.”
Miles, who plans to attend the University of Cincinnati this fall to study neurosurgery, went on to share how having a brain tumor has affected her outlook on life.
“I realize that every birthday’s like a gift, not just your big 16, your big 18 or 10,” she said. “None of us can be sure that there’s going to be a tomorrow, but when you have a brain tumor, it puts it in a lot more perspective, I believe.”
She added, “Not many 19-year-olds can comprehend that, hey, your life could end today. So, I’ve just really learned to realize that my time here is very valuable.”
Miles’s mother Autumn, a nurse, is taking a leave of absence from work to help her daughter recover post-surgery.
Friends set up an online fundraising campaign to help the family through the financial strain associated with Miara’s brain surgery and recovery. To make a donation, visit the GoFundMePage at https://www.gofundme.com/miaras-medical-healing-fund.