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Kyle woman to undergo complicated brain surgery

A Kyle woman tackles a brain disorder. An act of kindness that led the family to Texas has paid off in finding a surgeon
Tamara Thomas tries to enjoy some family fun despite a nearly lifelong fight with a brain disorder.

KYLE, Texas -- A selfless act of kindness is helping a Central Texas woman tackle a brain disorder that's troubled her most of her life.

Tamara Thomas, 33, suffers from a pineal cyst. A pineal cyst is usually about the size of a grain of rice, but Tamara's cyst is more walnut-sized.

Few doctors perform the complicated surgery, but the kindness that led the family to Texas may now payoff when it comes to her critical surgery.

Tamara, her husband, Joel, and their four children enjoy some time together outside their Kyle home, but this hasn't been the norm the last several years.

"We used to live on a farm," said Kyber Thomas, Tamara's daughter. "We had a bunch of horses and stuff. She was always playing outside with us and everything. Then she got sick."

A day didn't go by when Tamara didn't suffer severe headaches, tremors, fatigue and deteriorating vision.

"Hindsight is 20/20," said Tamara. "I can see back to all the way to my childhood even where there were issues, and we just didn't connect the dots."

A few years ago the family lived in Arkansas. Doctors diagnosed Tamara with everything from MS to Lupus to Parkinson's and even Graves Disease.

"Nothing really fit perfectly," she said. "It just all seemed like guesswork."

Then an MRI revealed she had a pineal cyst in the middle of her brain.

"We had almost given up before we came to Texas," said Joel.

The family came to Texas in 2012 to help Joel's sister who had suffered a stroke. That good turn turned into good fortune when they learned that someone could help them.

"There was a doctor four hours away who could help us," said Tamara.

Dr. Dong Kim is a neurosurgeon at the Texas Medical Center in Houston, and he is among the few surgeons in the country who specialize in removing pineal cysts.

"I perform about 50-75 surgeries a year," said Kim. "Ninety-five percent see some relief. Eighty percent are dramatically better."

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Tamara's aware there's a chance she could die from the complicated surgery, or she could live but not see any improvement. She says it's simply a chance she has to take.

"There's just no way I could keep going on with life the way it is right now," said Tamara.

"My vision is not going to get better. It's only going to get worse. I want to see my kids grow up, and I want them to have their old mom back."

The family spent just about all their savings to move to Kyle a little over a year ago to help Joel's sister with her recovery. Her surgery is set for August 6. While they have medical insurance, Tamara's year long recovery and the out of pocket expense is expected to exceed $50,000.

Click here for a link to their fundraising website.

Click here for a link to the Webinar about Pineal Cyst from Dr. Kim.

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