Brain Tumor Survivor Shares Her Tips on the College Transition

By Frannie Palmer

As a kid, I stumbled on my feet quite a bit. I had to use two hands on the railing while going down stairs. My parents thought I was just a little clumsy.


Frannie Palmer

The truth was, a brain tumor was creating pressure on my cerebellum and causing my incoordination.

I was 6-years-old when I had surgery to remove the non-cancerous tumor. It wasn’t until I began applying for early decision admission to Wheaton College that I fully grasped how much it had affected me.

After the surgery, I had to re-learn how to walk and talk. My childhood was filled with multiple MRIs a year; I’ve lost count of how many I’ve had to this day. MRI appointments, now once every other year, are coupled with visits to the Stop & Shop Family Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Outcomes Clinic, a clinic for pediatric brain tumor survivors, where I update my team of doctors on the latest news of my life and any difficulties I may be facing.

Frannie 1I sometimes struggle with my balance. My information processing speed is a little slower than normal. And my overall neurological function can be labored. However, I also participate in horse shows, and made the Dean’s List both semesters I’ve been at Wheaton. I have to give myself more time to do my assignments, and I am frequently working with the dean of disabilities, but my professors and counselors pay close attention and help me keep track of my work.

During my senior year of high school, I had the privilege to hear students speak at College Night, presented by the School Liaison Program at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. I was honored when I had the opportunity to speak at this year’s presentation, held on October 9, and share the lessons I’ve learned from my experience.

Here is some advice I can give to student survivors who are getting ready to make this transition:

  • Don’t be ashamed of your diagnosis. Being honest with people allows them to know who you truly are, and helps you build better relationships.
  • Be proactive about using resources offered on campus, such as counseling and the office of disabilities.
  • Accept the limitations you have. Whether it is academically or physically, learn to work with your own style of learning so that you may work to your fullest potential.
  • Always remember how far you’ve come, and never be afraid to go after what you want.

I believe survivorship is something to be proud of. It doesn’t define who I am, but it is a significant part of my character. Since I was so young when this journey began, I grew up knowing I was a little different. I knew, though, if I ever let it get in the way of achieving my goals, I would miss out on many opportunities.

I’ve realized I don’t know what I would be like if I’d never had the tumor, or the surgery. And I’m okay with that. I am proud of how far I’ve come. It makes me confident, stronger, and more resilient.

Comments Sort By Newest

One thought on “Brain Tumor Survivor Shares Her Tips on the College Transition

Comments are closed.

Make An Appointment

For adults: 877-960-1562

Quick access: Appointments as soon as the next day for new adult patients

For children: 888-733-4662

All content in these blogs is provided by independent writers and does not represent the opinions or advice of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute or its partners.

Latest Tweets

Dana-Farber @danafarber
Survival rates associated with blood cancers have risen for patients of all ages in recent years, but this increase…
Dana-Farber @danafarber
While the #internet can be a useful research tool, the web can also be home to bogus claims about cancer treatments…

Republish our posts on your blog

Interested in sharing one of our stories on your blog? Feel free to republish this content! We just ask that you credit Dana-Farber, link to the original article, and refrain from making edits that change the original context. Questions? Email the editors at