How I found hope while recovering from pituitary tumor surgery

A gym workout takes on special meaning for this new columnist

Jessica Bracy avatar

by Jessica Bracy |

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An illustration of a brain with glasses with full bookshelves in the background.

Three years ago, I started developing symptoms of Cushing’s disease. These symptoms included weight gain, deposits of fat at the base of my neck (called a buffalo hump), striae, bone pain, fatigue, and general weakness, among others.

Initially, these symptoms developed slowly but were exacerbated over time. It took a while for me to find a doctor who acknowledged my symptoms, which delayed my Cushing’s disease diagnosis. As the symptoms progressed, I began to relinquish activities that I used to enjoy, one by one. Normal life became fleeting.

As an active person, I enjoyed hitting the gym, going for walks, and finding any excuse to go outdoors. One of my favorite activities was going to Orange Theory Fitness. Last July, I paused my membership. It felt like Cushing’s had taken yet another piece of me away. I longed for the day I could go back.

In November, I had transsphenoidal pituitary surgery to remove a 3 mm tumor on my pituitary gland. I was motivated to pursue recovery by holding on to the idea that I’d soon be able to return to the gym. Recovery from the surgery was rough. Not only was I trying to get back to some sense of normalcy, I was also dealing with sciatica, working full time, and tapering off steroids.

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The power of persevering

I vowed to return to the gym in early February. I found that working toward something tangible made my recovery efforts feel worthwhile. I was ready to achieve that post-brain-surgery burn at the gym, but I was also extremely nervous. I hadn’t taken a class in six months.

The workout at my first class back was significantly harder than I had remembered. But I found myself smiling through the difficulty of it all. It was crazy to think that just three months earlier, I was lying in a hospital bed, recovering from brain surgery.

At home, I marveled at my accomplishment. To me, it wasn’t just a workout, but rather a beautiful indicator of how far I’ve come on my journey to recovery from Cushing’s disease.

The last three years of my life have been hard. Having a rare disease presents inconceivable challenges. But I persevered. I did it!

The experience taught me that healing is possible. Recovery does happen, and there are opportunities to return to doing the things we love.

Note: Cushing’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cushing’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Cushing’s.


lucie avatar


congrats u r on the way back again - been 7yrs for me Only lost 5stone grr got another 5 to go if I last hehe


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