CLEVELAND (WJW) — Brigitte Coles, 48, of Mansfield says she prayed for and received a miracle after a tennis ball-sized rare tumor growing between her heart and lungs and wrapped around her aorta was successfully removed.
Coles a former television broadcaster said she often reported on the stories of others, not realizing she would soon have a life threatening scare to tell of her own.
At first, Coles said the symptoms seemed innocent enough but after her fatigue, shortness of breath and low grade fever would not go away she knew something deeper was going on.
"I could not walk down the stairs of my home. I literally had to sit on each step," said Coles.
She continued, "Doctors were telling me 'we have this under control, you just need to relax and stay calm and everything will be alright,' but I just felt like I'm just not getting any better."
After consulting with a doctor Coles said she wanted to get a second opinion, a decision she credits with saving her life. At the Cleveland Clinic Coles began radiation therapy treatments and planned for a high risk surgery to remove the tumor.
Dr. Greg Videtic, of the Cleveland Clinic, said Coles was ultimately diagnosed with Paraganglioma, a rare tumor that grows out of the lining of blood vessels or the heart.
"Hers is the only one I've ever seen — and I've been at the Clinic for 15 years — showing up like this," said Dr. Videtic. "...To actually do open chest surgery, working behind the heart, is very high risk. She recovered remarkably well from this."
Coles credits her recovery from the initial 2016 diagnosis to her faith, staff at the Clinic and belief that patients should always advocate for their health.
"If I wouldn't have been so persistent about that I wouldn't have been here and found out that they could really help me and they could save my life," she said. "So I would encourage anyone that's out there don't be afraid to be an advocate for yourself."
Dr. Videtic said Coles remains under medical surveillance with future appointments, however her tumor is not expected to return.
Click here to learn more about Paraganglioma.