Brain aneurysms can run in families, and Samantha said she thought about her dad, who died from a ruptured brain aneurysm. “He was taken off life support in front of me,” she said. “It was extremely traumatic to watch someone I love to be completely brain dead and telling me I had no option.”
Around 6.5 million people in the United States have an unruptured brain aneurysm, according to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. The Stewarts say less than 2% of people have Samantha’s type.
A brain aneurysm is a bulge or ballooning in a blood vessel in the brain, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can leak or rupture, which results in bleeding into the brain. A ruptured aneurysm quickly becomes life-threatening and requires prompt medical treatment.
Samantha’s aneurysm is operational, but it’s a high-risk surgery.
Her second option is to install a stint flow diverter, which would require what Samantha said is a potent blood thinner. She can’t take that because of another medical issue ― gastrocardiac syndrome ― that caused her to be bedridden for nearly all of 2014, and in a wheelchair for two years.
This causes her to have miscommunications from her vagus nerve in her stomach. This nerve has parasympathetic control of her heart, lungs and digestive tract.
Samantha Stewart, left, has a rare brain aneurysm. After her diagnosis several years ago she had fell into depression but out of that she ended up writing a children’s book, “Making Sunshine” that really is for children of all ages. The book’s aim is to help make sunshine from their sadness and grief. Pictured with Samantha is her wife, Kayla Stewart. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF
“Mine is damaged in my stomach so it’s sending miscommunications to my heart,” she said. “I can’t be on the blood thinner because of the gastrocardiac syndrome.”
She said she has to find a way to heal, though she’s been told there isn’t a way. But she’s trying regardless.
“I’m doing this through my diet,” she said. “I am a firm believer that the body can heal itself fully.”
After Samantha’s book launch happens ― “Making Sunshine” will be available as an e-book and print book on Amazon ― she plans to donate 40,000 copies of her books to children’s hospitals and foster agencies. She also plans to hand-deliver these books with her wife, and is asking the general public to help with her mission.
They started a GoFundMe account to raise $250,000, and about 80% will be purchasing the books. The remainder of the money will be for travel expenses to hand-deliver these books.
She recognizes it’s a large number.
“But the reality behind it is, that’s what I have to do,” she said. “I have to reach my goal. I have to be able to do this because my life’s purpose is inside there. It’s coming from a very strong personal standpoint of me, my emotions, how much I want to go in to talk to every single kid but I can’t. If I can just show how these kids how I feel, maybe they can vibe off me.”