Milestones are meaningful for brain cancer survivor Lorin Dineen

Milestone birthdays are a source of dread for many people in our age-conscious society, but for Lorin Dineen, her 30th birthday will be cause for celebration. For the 29-year-old Oakwood native, every new day is a milestone, a mindset that she cultivated by a life-altering diagnosis in 2016.

“I had experienced some headaches, but nothing that led me to believe anything was seriously wrong,” Dineen said. “I had been active and healthy all of my life to that point, and then my world abruptly changed.”

Stricken with a seizure one night in June two years ago, Dineen was rushed to Miami Valley Hospital, where she learned that she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, specifically an astrocytoma. At any age, receiving news associated with the words “tumor” and “cancer” is staggering, but at 27, the devastation can be further heightened.

June is National Cancer Survivors Month, which is especially relevant for Lorin since she underwent surgery on June 21. Only part of the tumor was removed during that procedure. She sought additional opinions on her condition, and her second and final surgery took place at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, simply known as “The James.”

“When I was initially told it was a brain tumor, and then when I needed another surgery, I of course was stunned, but I felt a sense of peace from God saying, ‘It’s going to be OK,”” said Lorin, who attributes a strong Christian faith and the support of her parents, family and friends to coping and recovering. “At The James, they removed the rest of the tumor, and there was no need for chemo or radiation. I felt blessed and thankful, and I was renewed with determination to make the most of my new chapter of being a cancer survivor.”

Growing up in Oakwood, Lorin spent her high school years working at her father’s sporting goods store (Tuffy Brooks) and playing soccer, basketball and softball. She also explored her love for the theater, which she first developed as a young girl. That passion led her to Wright State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in theater and embarked on her aspirations as an actress and model. Still represented by P.C. Goenner Talent Agency, Lorin has appeared in TV commercials, independent movies and live theater, along with a stand-in role for Abbie, a character portrayed by Amanda Schull, in the movie “I Am Wrath,” which starred John Travolta.

When she was diagnosed with cancer, Lorin was immersed in real estate classes and performing as an actress and a model. Inspired by her grandmother’s success in the real estate industry, she decided to earn a real estate license so she could build that career and maintain the flexibility to continue appearing in live theater productions. After enduring the shock of discovering her life-threatening disease, and undergoing the subsequent surgeries and recovery period, she has emerged as a more mindful person.

“After the tumor was removed, it took a while before I regained my short-term memory. I would be in the middle of a conversation and suddenly forget about what we were talking about. Then I would be reminded, and the conversation would get back on track,” Lorin said. “It took a few months to regain my stamina, and was fatigued for a while, but I was determined to recover and I was thankful that I was on a path to recovery instead of the alternative.

“It took several months before I could do every day activities that I once took for granted, like driving a car and styling my hair,” she added. “I have long-term personal and professional goals, but now I embrace every day one day at a time because I now know first-hand that you never know when the life you are leading suddenly faces a significant obstacle.”

People with a history of cancer are living longer due to early diagnosis and better treatments. About 24,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with brain cancer every year. The National Cancer Institute estimates that by the year 2020, there will be approximately 20 million cancer survivors. Now that she is among those survivors, Lorin has made lifestyle changes to enhance her longevity, well-being and quality of life. For example, she has discovered a talent for cooking healthy foods based on her expanding cookbook collection. She started walking three to five miles a day as well. Completing real estate school and earning her license after the surgeries were initial accomplishments in the newest stage. Now she is building her client base as an agent at Irongate Realtors in Centerville, and she is looking forward to more opportunities as an actress.

“Real estate and acting are similar when you think about it because, just as you get to be part of a different role in each performance, with real estate, every client and every house is different,” Lorin said. “It’s gratifying to help people make their major life transition, whether it is buying or selling a home.”

When Lorin’s milestone birthday arrives next May, she will not have the uneasiness that some people feel about turning 30.

“We are all human, and it is human to become so engrained in daily life that time rushes by, and then we look at the calendar and are reflective about our age and where we are with our goals and objectives,” Lorin said. “I am looking at 30 – and any milestone birthday I get to celebrate – with a new appreciation because of the last few years.

“Growing older is a privilege that not everyone gets, and each morning when I wake up, I feel fortunate to be here,” she added. “As long as you are living, it is not too late to make positive changes, pursue new interests, maximize your strengths, focus on areas you can improve upon and be a kind, genuine person. The main difference between who I am now is that, even though I have long-term goals and plans, I have a more sincere appreciation of each day because even when there are life’s inevitable ups and downs, at least there is life, and the gift of living that day.”