ROXBURY, NJ –  Michele (Silk) Adriano was told by one doctor after another that her symptoms were just from stress. The former Roxbury resident was sure it was more than that.

Indeed it was. Adriano's persistence finally resulted in an MRI, a test that showed a large tumor pressing against her brain. Before doctors removed the tumor recently, they told Adriano that the unwanted object might have been growing in her skull for up to10 years.

Adriano said the symptoms that led to the tumor’s removal began a little more than a month ago. She just didn’t feel like herself, she said.

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“I was having a lot of like social/emotional stuff,” along with anxiety and insomnia, said the 38-year-old, who now lives in Rockaway Township. “I spoke to a lot of different doctors, even a psychiatrist. Every doctor said it was just anxiety. They told me, `You’re a mother with two young kids. You have a lot on your plate. You’re going for your Master’s.’ Everybody just thought it was stress.”

Getting Worse

But the list of symptoms grew. There were headaches, including a 3-day-long migraine, and dizzy spells that began impacting her career. Adriano – a cheerleader and dance student while at Roxbury High School in the 1990s – is now in charge of the dance program at Randolph High School.

“There were a few times I had to stop teaching because I was dizzy,” she said.

An MRI had not been performed in the past partly because Adriano’s medical insurance company said there “wasn’t enough evidence” to warrant one, she said. Finally, with the symptoms’ seriousness increasing, the insurance company relented.

The test revealed a large meningioma, a benign tumor that was removed March 8 during a 6-hour-long procedure at Overlook Medical Center in Summit. “Now it’s just a matter of recuperating and getting my strength back,” said Adriano.

Adriano’s cousin, Danielle Baker – who also grew up in Roxbury – set up a GoFundMe online fundraising page on behalf of Adriano. She said her cousin’s husband, who teaches autistic children, has been unable to work.

Baker hoped the site would raise $10,000 to help the family with expenses. As of today, it is approaching $17,500 in donations.

“Everyone has been amazing,” said Adriano. “It’s amazing how many people from Roxbury reached out. I just felt so much positive energy from people, including people from high school.