PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) -- Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is preparing to resume her role as the state's overseer of schools, less than two months undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumor.
The tumor was found during an accidental concussion, but Gist says that the symptoms were there.
"I was just having these stabbing pains, and I even joked in the office about it one day, I said 'I think I have a brain tumor'," she said.
In July, Gist was told it was no laughing matter, she did in fact have a brain tumor.
"I think anybody, when they hear that for the first time, it's so startling that you do feel really shocked," she added.
Commissioner Gist was diagnosed with a meningioma. It's the most common type of brain tumor, and it grows on the outer surface of the brain.
Gist underwent brain surgery on September 25, after healing from the concussion.
"By the time my surgery came around, I was so focused on getting it behind me, getting healthy and getting back to this work that I felt very driven, it was almost like a project I was completing," she added.
That determination went a long way, since less than two months after having the surgery, Commissioner Gist returning to work.
"I think it just made me more determined to get back in here and keep doing what we've been doing," said Gist. "I don't feel like we've skipped a beat since I've been out."
She also said she wasn't about to let a tumor get in the way of her educational goals for the children here in Rhode Island.
"We've set this enormous goal of having the best public schools in America, and I'm totally serious about that," she added.
Gist says she feels very fortunate that she hasn't had any complications from the tumor or the surgery. As she continues to heal this Thanksgiving, she tells us she has a lot to be thankful for.
"Certainly I'm thankful for my health, I'm thankful to be back, to have this behind me, and I'm just ready to move forward with even more enthusiasm than I've ever had before," she said.
The Board of Regents is expected to reinstate Gist as the state's education commissioner on Monday.
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