SHORTLY AFTER REMOVING A TWO-inch tumor from Elizabeth Taylor's brain, Dr. Martin Cooper held up a few everyday objects to make sure his famous patient could identify them. When he showed her a wedding band, Cooper recalls, the famous violet eyes flashed mischievously. " 'Oh,' " Cooper says Taylor joked, " 'I've had many of those.' "
The apparently benign tumor, discovered after Taylor experienced headaches and doctors ordered a brain scan Feb. 3, was the latest in a long line of serious ailments Taylor has suffered. As with the pneumonia and hip replacements that came before, she proved herself a survivor. "She faces this kind of situation better than anyone I've seen," says her lawyer Neil Papiano. "Maybe that's because she's had to face so much adversity."
Taylor, whose scalp was shaved for the 3-hour surgery and who now has titanium microplates where doctors bored into her skull behind her left ear, faces a slim chance of recurrence and may be prescribed drugs to prevent seizures, a common side effect of brain surgery. Doctors expect her to recover in about four weeks.
The star's eight-day stay at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center was eased by Casablanca lilies and other flowers sent by such friends as new papa Michael Jackson, hundreds of cards from fans (many of whom wrote about surviving similar tumors) and visits by her four children (Michael, 44, and Christopher Wilding, 42; Liza Todd Tivey, 39; and Maria Burton Carson, 36). The clan gathered in her room Feb. 24 to watch the ABC special Happy Birthday, Elizabeth: A Celebration of Life, a 65th-birthday gala and AIDS benefit. But the best gift of all came when doctors sent her home last Wednesday. Says longtime pal Carole Bayer Sager: "She's not the least bit finished with her life."
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