When Houston mom Christina Smith woke up with a bad headache, she assumed it was from having a few drinks at her niece’s birthday party the night before.
The pain lasted throughout the day, the 23-year-old nursing student told local station Fox 26. She went to sleep as usual that night but woke up in the hospital — she’d had a seizure during the night and was rushed by her husband Willie to Bayshore Medical Center.
“It was very scary witnessing it, being there, because it was very unexpected,” Willie recalled.
As it turned out, Smith actually had an “aggressive” tumor “wrapped around a very large blood vessel in the brain,” explained Dr. John Tynes, chief medical officer at Bayshore. It was an especially “complicated” case.
“There was no way to remove that tumor without removing part of that vein, and when you take out a vein in the brain, as you can imagine, there are risks associated with that, like stroke, permanent brain damage, paralysis,” Dr. Tynes continued. “So it was a very difficult, very brave decision … to go head and have the surgery.”
Post-surgery, Smith wasn’t able to move her whole right side, she told Fox 26, but added that her recovery process went more quickly than planned.
“I had a little rehab in the hospital, and I was expected to have in-patient rehab, and the next thing you know, I start recovering faster than normal, so I didn’t need much rehab at all,” she said.
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The mother of one also shared that she’s already back in nursing school, thanks to the doctors, family and friends who provided a support system during the incident. Nearly 40 people cheered her on from the hospital waiting room while she had surgery.
“We have a big family,” Smith laughed.
Reps from Bayshore Medical didn’t immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
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