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Road to Recovery
Tech. Sgt. Ashley Bean, 13th Intelligence Squadron imegery analyst stationed at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., runs in the Nike Women's half-marathon in San Francisco Oct. 20, 2013. Bean's husband, Staff Sgt. Phillip Bean, is a crew chief with the 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron stationed at Travis Air Force Base. (Courtesy Photo)
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Diagnosis fails to stop Airman, Reservist in her tracks

Posted 10/30/2013   Updated 10/31/2013 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Nicole Leidholm
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

10/30/2013 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Ashley Bean had become interested in running marathons after participating in two overseas.

She even planned on running in two more this year. Bean was preparing for an upcoming marathon and made a goal to beat her old time, but that all changed this summer.

After having migraines and dizzy spells at work, she made an appointment with a neurologist where they did coordination and walking tests. From that, they determined she needed an MRI to further determine what was wrong.

The MRI showed a golf ball-sized tumor wrapped around her brain stem and near the ear canal.

"The tumor had been growing for 10 years," said Bean, a tech sergeant with the 13th Intelligence Squadron imagery analyst at Beale Air Force Base. "The doctors were surprised I had no symptoms that are usually associated with this kind of tumor. I had perfect hearing."

Bean was diagnosed with acoustic neuroma. Although benign, because of the location with the tumor pressing on the brain stem, the doctors decided to operate immediately.

"I'd been preparing for an upcoming marathon when they told me I needed to stop running," Bean said. "I even ran five miles the day of the MRI."

Bean had surgery Sept. 4, 45 days before the marathon. Despite the challenges, she still participated Sunday in the Nike Women's half-marathon in San Francisco.

"I decided to participate after surgery to prove to myself that I could still do it," she said. "I wanted to at least walk it, but I ended up running half of it. I hadn't ran more than a mile and a half before then."

Because of the location, Bean still has 15 percent of the tumor left. She will undergo radiation surgery in December to try to remove the remaining tumor.

Throughout the challenging experience, Bean said her husband was her greatest support.

"He was there by my side throughout it all," she said. "He was there from finding out to surgery to recovery."

Bean's husband, Staff Sgt. Phillip Bean, 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, stationed at Travis, helped by being by her side.

"I did anything and everything for her," Phillip Bean said. "Anything she needed I was there for her. I was out of work during the surgery to be by her side.

Phillip Bean's squadron even helped out by providing the family with meals the week of the surgery.

"My unit did a food train for us and all my leadership from my supervisor to squadron commander called daily to see how my wife was doing," Phillip Bean said. "They even raised money for fuel to go to and from appointments. My first sergeant ensured I had approval for my non-medical escort so I didn't have to worry about the paperwork. They were a great support system for us.

For Ashley Bean, it's hard for her to believe she had a tumor and surgery but says having a great support system helped her stay resilient.

"Having people to talk to, family and co-workers, really helped me pull though," Ashley Bean said. "It's important to have this support system to stay resilient."

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