Benefit Saturday, Sept. 23 for Samantha Dawson


Area residents can help a Eugene resident facing brain surgery this Saturday, Sept. 23 at Ice Cream 4 Ice Cream at Eugene.

The benefit for Samantha Dawson starts at 3 p.m. and will feature a barbecued chicken dinner with all the fixings ($10 for adults and $5 for children), a challenge course, pop a balloon game, duck pond; and free games, including cornhole, hillbilly golf, washer toss; and ladder/table can knockout.

After years of debilitating migraines (since around age 12) and other health concerns, Dawson (now 22) has recently been diagnosed with a colloid cyst (an extremely rare, deep-seated, slow growing tumor in the brain).

Her cyst is in the third ventricle of her brain - risking hydrocephalus (fluid build-up), unconsciousness, seizures, brain fog, extreme fatigue, memory loss, loss of use of limbs, nausea, vomiting, blurry vision, changes in personality, headaches, drop attacks and sudden death. 

Colloid cysts are only seen in less than two percent of the population – it is even more rare to see one manifest in an otherwise healthy young woman.

In late May, Dawson went to the emergency room for symptoms of a concussion and some swelling in her neck and lymph nodes. 

After a few tests to rule out other causes, such as infection, she was sent for an MRI. 

Review of the scan led Dawson to be referred to a local neurosurgeon, and later  to a doctor in South Carolina, who would give her the life-altering diagnosis. 

Because of the rarity of colloid cysts (1 in 3 million), there are very few neurosurgeons who specialize in their treatment and removal. 

At the time of the diagnosis, her doctor was optimistic in thinking Dawson could choose to live with the cyst and manage symptoms, or have surgery for removal with a high probability of success. 

However, since the diagnosis, her migraines and lightheadedness have been steadily worsening, which has led Dr. Engh to recommend that she proceed with surgery.

Aug. 31,  Dawson made the decision to schedule surgery for Oct. 12 at the Lexington Brain and Spine Institute. This was no easy decision as there are always risks associated with surgery, but especially with brain surgery in the third ventricle. 

With such a major surgery Dawson will exhaust all saved sick and vacation leave she has earned with her job with the state of Missouri, and be forced to take leave without pay. 

After surgery, she will spend 2-3 nights in the hospital, then be moved to a nearby hotel. She is required to stay within a five minute radius of the Lexington Brain and Spine Institute for up to three weeks post-op, to allow for immediate intervention should any complications arise. 

She will  also incur travel costs to and from surgery, lodging, meals, all costs associated with requiring a caregiver during the hotel stay, and a majority of all medical bills associated, as her insurance carrier has been reluctant to offer any promise of help with the out of network care.