By Kitsey Burns Harrison
BOONVILLE — After years of dealing with chronic pain and being hospitalized multiple times due to a tumor in her brain, a local woman is now finally on the mend.
Heather Cox Coe, a former contestant on the popular TV show “American Idol,” began having health problems in 2010. She was diagnosed with having a pineal gland tumor in the center of brain, which caused severe headaches and well as seizures. Coe will be returning to television, this time to share her story on the ABC show “The Doctors.” The episode featuring Coe is expected to air on Monday at noon.
Coe was a top 20 finalist on season five of “American Idol” in 2006. Since that time she has had an active music ministry in the local community, married and had three children. After she began having health problems, Coe and her family reached out for support as they began investigating possible treatment options. Multiple fundraisers were held for Coe to help with medical bills and to raise funds to pay for an expensive brain surgery to remove the tumor.
In February, the golf-ball-sized pineal gland tumor was removed from the center of Coe’s brain. Though the surgery was a success and the tumor benign, Coe’s health troubles didn’t end there.
“I experienced a post-operative seizure in the ICU that caused great neurological brain damage, a traumatic brain injury, and a bleed in my brain,” Coe explained. “I completely lost all my ability of talking, communicating, walking, tending to my personal needs, reading, writing, etc.”
In the eight months since the brain surgery, Coe has had to relearn basic skills.
“I actually relearned how to read by reading Dr. Seuss books to my babies and learned how to talk by talking on their levels, ages 6, 4 and 2,” she said. “It has been an extremely difficult and slow recovery, but I am so thankful that the Lord has been so faithful to me in my restoration process and I am now almost completely restored.”
Coe has even more exciting news, she and husband Curtis will soon welcome their fourth child, a son they plan to name Micah Daniel.
“He is due on the one year anniversary of my brain surgery, the day I almost died. Talk about the Lord’s perfect timing,” Coe said.
Last fall producers from “The Doctors” came to the Coe home to film their story. Coe said fellow contestants from the season she appeared on “American Idol” helped to bring attention to her story.
Not only did producers from the show spend time filming at the Coe home, they also were present and filmed during Coe’s brain surgery.
“Curtis and I flew to LA to tape the conclusion of my story a few weeks ago and the episode will air to their millions of viewers soon on our local ABC channel,” Coe said. “I not only talked about my story on stage, but I was then able to sing my song ‘Letter From God’ as well. This was the first time I’ve been able to sing since the brain damage I experienced so I am so excited for the viewers to see just how far I’ve come.”
Coe, whose spiritual faith has been an important part of her recovery, said she hopes by sharing her story, she can inspire others who are struggling with debilitating illnesses.
“I would also like to add a huge thank you to my local community for all of their prayers, donations and support during my fundraising process as well as my recovery process,” she said. “I want them to know how blessed I have been to know that my community has been behind me and my family, every step of the way.”
Coe will soon be collaborating with a number one songwriter in Nashville on new material to record.
“I’m looking forward to a bright future, with a healthy slate behind me, and hope to pursue my dream of becoming a Christian recording artist. That’s my goal,” Coe said.
She said she also is available to speak or sing locally and may be contacted through her Facebook page, Curtis and Heather Coe (Cox) or her Heather’s Hope Facebook group.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.