She didn’t let a brain tumor interfere with her life

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Mexia High School science teacher Helen Steil helps her students study bacteria under microscopes. Though her life is calm again, a little over a year ago she was going through a difficult time as she dealt with a brain tumor. Mexia News photos/Roxanne McKnight

By Roxanne McKnight
Staff Writer

Mexia High School teacher Helen Steil wasn’t going to let anything keep her from her son’s wedding last fall, but life intervened and she didn’t make it. She almost didn’t make it through September.

Steil had just started teaching at the high school a few weeks before, after nine years at the junior high. She had a migraine that had been going on for several weeks, but she had suffered from migraines for years and just thought to herself that this wasn’t good and she would have to see the doctor again.

“It was Labor Day weekend when I pulled my hair into a pony tail and noticed my head was lopsided,” she said. “I had long hair, and it didn’t look right.”

Her 15-year-old daughter, Robyn, had an appointment with the family doctor the next day, so Steil had her own name added to the appointment. When they got to the doctor’s office, however, Steil couldn’t remember why she was there.

“My memory was really getting short,” Steil said, “so my daughter said, ‘You need to look at her head; it’s not right, it’s lopsided.’”
As soon as the doctor saw the lump on her head, he ordered an MRI. The scans detected a tumor, and doctors told her it may have been there 15-20 years.

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