Soapbox Talkers

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Featured Talker

Vanessa Garza

Vanessa is a Boston-based aspiring writer, mother of two children, former corporate America consultant, and survivor of four elective brain surgeries to remove the asymptomatic AVM in her right temporal lobe. Thanks to the determined medical team who treated her and the incredible support she received before, during, and after her trauma, she hopes to raise awareness for this very rare neurological disease.  She believes she survived this journey in part to pay it forward by honoring and supporting all AVM warriors, their caregivers, and their medical teams, in any way she can.

Featured Artist

Jennifer Vallina

Jennifer Vallina of One Sock On Photography is an experienced artist specializing in on-location headshots, family portraits and special event photography.  She has an eye not only for detail, but for capturing the unique, often overlooked moments that create memories. Jennifer values discretion and connects easily with clients. Finding joy in intricate patterns and the mesmerizing detail of everyday objects, her work brings a consciousness to the invisible and highlights the amazing landscape that surrounds us.

Jennifer was named “best for outdoor family photography in DC” and is the proud owner of a brainstem AVM that was treated by CyberKnife in the summer of 2018. Her art is available for purchase and she is willing to travel.


The writers of TAAF Talk are made up of our contributors,The Aneurysm and AVM Foundation (TAAF) community, and friends. We are always interested in hearing the stories of those impacted by aneurysms and AVM. New articles are posted monthly. If you are interested in contributing to TAAF Talk, please contact us on our Chat Back Page.

George Circle

George Valdez

George is a 27 year old construction inspector from Long Beach, California. He enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, going to the beach with friends. and attending concerts. He found out he had both an AVM and aneurysm in his brain after suffering an AVM hemorrhage in September of 2019.

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Michele Cozadd

Michele is a married, crazy cat lady, who survived a ruptured brain aneurysm. I  left my career in Supply Chain IT to focus on using my voice to advocate for aneurysm awareness and education. She believes that she was saved for something greater than herself. She loves being creative! She is using that creativity to write a blog to document her own recovery for other survivors.

Jay Dolia, MD

Dr. Dolia is a Clinical Instructor of Neurology in the Department of Neurology at the University of Pittsburgh and a Neuroendovascular Surgery Fellow.  In addition, Dr. Dolia shares a passion for nonprofit work, is the member of several groups and associations, and leads both Young NIR as well as SVIN’s Covid-19 outreach program, NeuroHeroes.

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Laura Sprouse Winans

Laura Sprouse Winans was the sole caregiver for her mom, Hattie.  Hattie suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm in 2015 and passed away this year. Her mom was always what kept her happy. She didn’t look at it as work when taking care of her; Laura looked at it as making memories while enjoying life.

A special thank you from the bottom of my heart goes out to Mrs. Dina Chon for always being there for me when I needed to vent, for allowing me to talk to you on the phone, and for always checking on mom and I. Thank you for all your help.
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Deb Toy Benzel

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.

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Charles K

Charles K is a 3rd generation San Francisco native and resides in the Bay Area.  He spends his free time with his beloved Shiba Inu.

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Lisa Hannegan

MS, NP, Co-President of TAAF and TAAF Talk Science Consultant

Lisa was both a Supervisor and Clinical Nurse Specialist within the Dept. of Neurological Surgery at University of California San Francisco as well as an Assistant Clinical Professor at UCSF School of Nursing until her retirement in June 2017. In her nearly 40-year nursing career at UCSF, she worked directly with over 5,000 patients with aneurysms or vascular malformations and brings her considerable expertise to TAAF. For more information about Lisa, Click here for the Masthead

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Leslye Wilson

As a self-proclaimed silent introvert, Leslye Wilson found her voice through poetry. After surviving a cerebral arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in September of 2008, Leslye continues to use poetry as her voice with the hope of educating people on AVMs and disabilities, along with uplifting and empowering survivors. Her works have been featured in several blogs, newsletters and anthologies, including “The View from Here: Poetry to Help You Soar!” and “In Transit: Poetry of People on the Move” under her pen name, Lita Verella. In addition to writing, Leslye enjoys drawing, traveling, hiking, mild rock climbing, yoga and meditation.

Dina Chon

TAAF Community Engagement Manager

Part of the TAAF Talk Team; to learn more about Dina, Click here for the Masthead.


Beautiful Nameone

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Beautiful Nameone

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, ei vidit habeo dolorem has. Eius atqui salutandi eum cu, eos inciderint concludaturque at, quot nominati mediocritatem pri ea. Habeo sanctus at mel, sea an purto omittam suscipit.

Dina Chon

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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.