Community Engagement Manager for TAAF

Editor in Chief

Dina Chon

Community Engagement Manager of The Aneurysm and AVM Foundation

After losing her mother to a burst aneurysm on Christmas Day when she was 16, Dina has tried to honor that legacy of love in all of her work but especially within the greater aneurysm and AVM community.

“Service is healing”


Site Manager

Nancy Nauman

Pediatric Marketing Coordinator for The Rylan Project, TAAF Youth Ambassador Mentor, and TAAF Volunteer

Nancy is a mom to William, her AVM Angel, who passed away in 2017 from a rupture during surgery. His life and death has brought her to TAAF which has given her purpose to her grief and built a legacy for her son.

“Be Brave, Little One”


After two embolizations and two craniotomies, Vanessa was declared AVM Free on July 27, 2017. On this day, She celebrates and sends love to all AVM warriors on their own journeys!


Vanessa Garza

In the summer of 2017, at the age of 37, Vanessa elected to have aggressive treatment, including four brain surgeries to remove her unruptured and asymptomatic AVM, which doctors incidentally discovered during a routine health exam. Vanessa is now AVM-free and mostly recovered from her surgeries. She is motivated to fully heal, recover, write, and advocate for AVM awareness.

#LifeisHard #SoBlessed #SunshineonaBrainyDay

I suffered a brain aneurysm rupture and I suffered a Stroke as well, too and then my brain began to swell.  But after a very traumatic 13 months of recovery, lots of therapy sessions, 9 surgeries, and one synthetic half-skull later . . . here I am trying my best to rise up and spread awareness through my journey.


Cynthia Martinez

After surviving a ruptured aneurysm in 2018, Cynthia underwent 9 surgeries, which included a synthetic bone placement on her skull. Although she currently lives with an unruptured aneurysm and had 13 months of recovery, she went back to her career as well as continues to raise her six-year-old son.

“No matter what life throws our way, we always have a choice. Sometimes it’s only a choice of attitude.”



Trish Speake

Trish suffered an AVM rupture in 2008. She was unaware that she had an AVM. She has been volunteering and offering support in various AVM/aneurysm support groups for over 11 years.

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.” – Bob Marley


Deb and the Fam

Deb Toy Benzel

AVM Survivor

On the last day of a family vacation in the Adirondack Mountains 10 years ago, Deb survived an AVM rupture that turned her into the Wonder Woman she is today, not perfect nor Mother Teresa, but wonderful all the same

“Having a bad day? Stop. Take a breath. Put your hand on your heart. Feel that? It’s called purpose.”


Louisa Church Cicillini

AVM Survivor

In 2007, a top neurosurgeon in Boston told Louisa surgery was not an option for her AVM, so she had Proton Beam Radiation.  Unfortunately, during treatment, she suffered a brain hemorrhage and had an emergency craniotomy.  By 2009, she was declared AVM free. Louisa brings over 5 years of moderator experience to TAAF Talk.

”When the tide of life turns against you and the current upsets your boat, don’t waste tears on what might have been, just lie on your back and float.”


On April 5th, after two weeks in ICU, Molly's family found a doctor in NYC who confidently clipped her aneurysm. Happy birthday to her! She turned 14 this year.

Molly Curtis

Aneurysm Survivor

While healing from her ruptured aneurysm, Molly was able to finish her Masters Degree and Law School. She currently lives in San Jose, CA with her husband and two children.

“All You Need is Love” – The Beatles

Beth Lost

Beth Losk

Aneurysm Survivor

Beth is a retired long time special educator.  She lives with her beloved husband, Rick, and two cats outside Boston.  Beth experienced a ruptured brain aneurysm in 2016 and has found the journey of recovery to be the most profound of her life. Every day brings some new awareness or insight, and she is proud to be a survivor and to support others on their paths.

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. The essential is invisible to the eye.”



Dan Cooke, MD

Associate Professor in Residence UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging Chief, Neurointerventional Radiology Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center

“As a member of UCSF and TAAF, I am working to improve the lives of patients and their families using advanced molecular biology, imaging, and robotic technologies to prevent and limit the effects of strokes in all its forms.”


Jay Dolia, MD

Clinical Instructor Vascular Neurology Junior Neuroendovascular Surgery Fellow University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Stroke Institute

“Each patient is a unique human being, not a disease or a group of symptoms.”


The Aneurysm and AVM Foundation does not provide medical advice and does not recommend, endorse or make any representation about the efficacy, appropriateness or suitability of any specific tests, products, procedures, treatments, services, opinions, health care providers or other information that may be contained on or available through this website.



TAAF’s website contains information that is intended to educate patients and their caregivers about aneurysm and AVM. Articles on this website have been written and reviewed by qualified medical professionals and are periodically updated.

The medical information on this website is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is crucial that care and treatment decisions related to vascular malformations of the brain and any other medical condition be made in consultation with a doctor or other qualified medical professional.


TAAF uses social media to share topics that may be of interest to aneurysm and AVM patients and caregivers. Articles that TAAF re-posts from other websites are not vetted by a medical professional associated with TAAF. TAAF staff uses its discretion to choose topics that may be of interest to members of our community.