In the booming world of beauty vloggers, Courtney Elizabeth Warner has become something of a break-out star.
With a glittery backdrop, insatiable energy, and a stack of gleaming products, she has amassed hundreds of thousands of followers since 2014 under the name CourtElizz1.
It is bright, accessible, and fun. More than 133,000 subscribers get to know Courtney’s bubbly personality, without diving too deep.
But last month, the 26-year-old from Michigan broke that wall as she revealed she has stage 3 brain cancer – and shared a video of her open brain surgery to remove the tumor.
The video, published last week among her other tutorials, rocketed to more than 180,000 views within hours.
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DIAGNOSED WITH A BRAIN TUMOR: HOW COURTNEY REVEALED HER DIAGNOSIS TO FANS
Courtney, who teaches middle school kids in Michigan between making beauty videos, first revealed her tumor battle in a short video clip on her YouTube channel in May.
With a full face of makeup and streaming tears, she told fans she had a brain tumor, but doctors believed it wasn’t cancerous.
The tumor was discovered, she said, after she experienced issues with her speech. She was struggling to articulate words.
It was something she had always had an issue with, and chalked it up to clumsiness – a characteristic that she plays with on her show.
However, in the last few months she reached a point where she couldn’t remember words. She would look at a pair of glasses, understand what they were, but not be able to articulate the word. One day she experienced a splitting headache and felt overwhelmingly nauseous.
She went to the doctor for a scan, which revealed a mass in her brain.
Courtney told fans her doctors were confident it was nothing to worry about it, and had booked in scans to get it checked.
A month later, she appeared again – this time without her usual make-up, her hair tied in a bun, her eyes full of tears. The video was titled ‘I Have Grade 3 Cancer’.
‘There are some things I have to tell you. I am going to try not to cry. I’m going to try my best not to cry. Because I just really don’t want to.
‘I found out that I have cancer. I did not know I had it. I kept telling everyone “it’s not cancer, it’s not cancer, it’s not cancer”, because everyone told me it wasn’t cancer.
Courtney did not specify her exact type of tumor.
She admitted to viewers that she knew nothing about cancer before this point, and explained the stages as they were explained to her.
‘So for cancer, they said there is 4, I am a 3. So it’s not the best one because the best one would be 1 – or none, I guess. But mine is 3 out of 4. So I have 3…’ she says, trailing off.
‘But they said that my 3 that I have is actually the best one out of all of them and I’m going to be fine,’ Courtney said, her voice cracking.
‘So I am going to get chemo and radiation,’ she said, stumbling over the word ‘radiation’ and apologizing (‘I always say that wrong, I know’).
‘I have to do 6 weeks of chemo and they said that I’m going to be doing a pill. And after the chemo and the radiation – I can’t say that word – I’m going to be done.
‘And then I have to do an MRI every month just to make sure everything is doing well and then I think I have to do that every month for a year.’
Weeks later, she revealed she would be getting the tumor removed. It is a common route for brain tumor patients, but is not without risks.
All brain surgery – regardless of how invasive it is – carries about a five percent risk of death, a stroke, or life-altering disabilities.
If the tumor is benign, most patients choose to the wait-and-watch option, monitoring it until…