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January 1, 2013

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My grandmother, Bessie Garrison Shuford, helped save my child’s life. Even though she passed away in 1975, her mountain wisdom pushed its way into my memory in 2009 as my then 11-year-old son faced a life-threatening crisis: a pituitary brain tumor.

In an exam room at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, I did something I’ve never done at any doctor appointment. I pulled out my laptop, found a Wifi signal, and followed my granny’s guidance to pinpoint the best surgery date.

The physician’s assistant proposed September 8 for the craniotomy – a critical procedure in which the pediatric neurosurgeon would cut my child’s head open and attempt to bypass the carotid artery and optical chiasm to snatch as much of the tumor as he could.

My fingers flew across the keys as I checked moon phases, signs and planetary retrogrades. Without looking up, I said, “That date is no good.”

“Okay,” she said. “September 15.”

I typed some more and said, “Actually the whole month of September is out.”

She drew her reading glasses to the tip of her nose and looked over them. “Your child has a brain tumor. We have to get it out.”

I told her I understood. My child’s life was my utmost priority. I also told her my granny urged me when I was about 11 years old to never schedule surgery without checking an almanac and using the moon signs to guide the decision. Granny always cautioned that if it was an emergency to do what the doctors said, but if there was time to be thoughtful, to always use the signs. My grandfather, affectionately known as Gan-Gan, also checked the signs often, but it was Granny who emphasized this practice to me.

For the full article, pick up a copy of the Jan/Feb 2013 issue!

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January 1, 2013

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