RACINE — Adriana Cochran was at work when she felt a tingling on her right arm down to her leg Aug. 18.
Cochran, a professional recruiter for Express Employment Professionals, 1300 S. Green Bay Road, Suite 200, told a coworker about the issue. The coworker urged her to see a doctor.
Soon after that, she was rushed to Ascension All Saints Hospital. Doctors found a benign tumor on the outer left side of her brain.
She was transferred to Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa, where she underwent surgery Aug. 23 to remove the tumor. Her recovery could be as long as six months to a year.
She has support from family and friends near and far, along with the support of her community. Many have rallied behind her, each paying for portions of her medical bills via the fundraising website GoFundMe (gofund.me/95d962ab). As of Thursday, $3,580 has been raised of the $20,000 goal.
A successful surgery
Cochran, 32, grew up in Racine, moved to Chippewa Falls and graduated from Chippewa Falls High School in 2007, then moved back to Racine after completing college at Milwaukee Area Technical College.
She had been suffering from headaches and migraines for the last two years. Her doctor had simply given her headache/migraine medication at the time.
Lorenzo Rosario, who has been her partner for six years and is now her fiancé, said her headaches had gone from bad to worse.
“The doctors didn’t think it was serious,” Rosario said. “I felt like they probably should’ve conducted more research because to assume it was a headache and there’s nothing going on … they should’ve checked it earlier. They could’ve caught it earlier.”
On Aug. 18, things were a little hectic, Rosario said. Cochran could have been going through a mini-seizure as a side effect from the tumor, doctors said.
“It was overwhelming,” Rosario said.
However, the surgery was a success. The tumor was removed from the outer front-left side of her brain.
Rosario’s main concern was making sure she made it through and went home to see their kids: Eliana, 4, and Levi, 18 months.
“Surgery no matter the severity of it, is a very serious procedure,” he said. “On the brain, it’s a pretty serious one. Once you wake up, after that, you just kind of build and start over and take it day by day.”
Before surgery, Cochran was worried about the process and was worried she wasn’t going to be able to talk or write.
However, “she stuck it through and she pushed hard. She was able to talk, she can communicate, walk and do the things they were skeptical if she would be able to do,” Rosario said. “She’s recovering day by day and it’s taking a little bit, but she will get there.”
The recovery process
Brain surgeries are among the most dangerous to perform. The risks include loss of sight or speech, stroke, coma, brain swelling, the list goes on.
Cochran didn’t run into those serious problems. She can now have conversations, speaking full sentences. She may get puzzled on a word or two, but it’s getting better, Rosario said: the more she lets herself rest, the more her brain gets back to normal.
Rosario works as a community specialist for Racine/Kenosha Community Action. He’s trying to be as supportive for Cochran as possible, whether if that’s taking care of their kids, bringing them to daycare or school or simply letting Cochran sleep.
She’s participating in physical, occupational and speech therapy. She additionally will have annual checkups.
The family is helping her take her medicine and helping her remain stress-free to aid the healing process and prevention of another tumor; there’s a chance one could come back.
Adriana’s aunt, Maria Cartagena, is welcoming Cochran into her Franklin home. Cochran will be staying with her until she feels better.
Cartagena said she initially was in shock to hear her niece had a brain tumor.
“That’s not a phone call you expect to receive,” Cartagena said. “I was a little sad to see how this would affect her job and her as a mother. I get emotional about it because she is so young.”
Cochran’s own mother Lucy Ortiz additionally is visiting from Florida, where Ortiz has lived for the last 10 years.
“I feel like the more support she has, the better she’ll get,” Ortiz said. Cochran’s condition was, “very shocking and very unexpected because she’s so young.”
Cochran and Ortiz often visit each other and their families; the last time they saw each other was Memorial Day weekend and Cochran was planning on visiting for Labor Day.
“It’s very overwhelming to see your child going through this, but just having faith that everything is going to be OK is keeping us strong,” she said. “Having faith in God is the first thing.”
Cochran is doing well in therapy and off to a good start, Ortiz said.
Ortiz is playing affirmations she found on YouTube for her daughter, something she also did for her while Cochran was in labor.
“Listening to affirmations is a positive gesture. Hearing that everything’s going to be OK, and different things that are positive to influence her can help with keeping a positive mind,” Ortiz said. “She is positive no matter what, but right now we’re on a different track. We just love her so much.”
Getting financial help
Cartagena started the GoFundMe page, called Adriana’s Journey, to communicate how Cochran was doing, as well as to support her niece and family. Donations are going toward medical expenses, loss of income and therapy.
“The GoFundMe is helping cover the main part of the medical bills that we can’t afford,” Rosario said. “We do have to start paying this, little by little.”
Rosario said the family is remaining positive. There are some lingering worries about other obstacles that could come up, but overall, Rosario said things could have been worse and he’s glad they’re not.
The family is overwhelmed with the financial support people have been giving, and greatly appreciate the love, support and prayers.
“I feel like I kind of owe people,” Rosario said. “We got family that’s donating from other states, people that I’ve met on Facebook or people I don’t even know, donating $10 or $20. They didn’t have to give anything if they didn’t want to. Every dollar counts, every dollar matters.”
He said even though it’s Cochran’s job to help people, she’s a great person and does a lot for others.
“It’s a nice feeling to get that in return,” he said. “She has a lot of people in her corner that she didn’t even know were there. She’s very grateful for that.”