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  • AdventHealth Brain Aneurysm Support Group

    Winter Park, FL

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    Lutherville-Timonium, MD

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  • Bay Area Aneurysm and Vascular Malformation Support Group

    San Francisco, CA

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  • March 26, 2024
  • BAF
  • Awareness
  • Survivor

BAF Changemaker: Joanne Rossmassler Fritz

Joanne Rossmassler Fritz and her second verse novel, Ruptured.

Joanne Rossmassler Fritz has worked in a publishing company, a school library, and the Children’s Department of a large independent bookstore. She’s been writing most of her life but didn’t get serious about it until 2005 when she survived the first of two brain aneurysm ruptures. She and her husband live in Southeastern Pennsylvania and have two grown sons.

Published in November 2023, Ruptured is a novel in verse about a 13-year-old girl on vacation with her parents. Her mother tells her a painful secret just before she suffers a brain aneurysm rupture, and the family must learn to navigate a difficult new existence. 

As a survivor of two ruptured brain aneurysms, Joanne wrote this novel to tell the world you can survive a brain aneurysm! Ruptured is a work of fiction, but Joanne drew on her own experiences to write this book. Joanne donates a portion of the proceeds from the book to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.


Joanne in Maine, 2006

BAF: Tell us a little about your connection with brain aneurysms.

JRF: I’m a survivor of two ruptured brain aneurysms, twelve years apart. My first aneurysm ruptured while my family and I were on vacation in Maine in July 2005. I had a terrible headache and passed out after seeing a movie. My husband took me straight to the small local hospital, which was three minutes away. They transferred me by ambulance to Maine Medical Center in Portland. My bleed was a 2-3 (out of 5) on the Hunt & Hess scale.  A neuroradiologist coiled the aneurysm to prevent it from rupturing again. I spent three weeks in that hospital. Nobody mentioned rehab afterward.

I had follow-ups in Maine in 2006 and 2007, and then my neurosurgeon suggested I find someone near me in Pennsylvania for follow-ups and switch to every three years for scans. I found a neurologist who had me keep a headache diary and saw me once a year to discuss the headaches. He also ordered brain scans. After the 2010 and 2013 brain scans showed nothing new, he suggested we switch to every five years.

I didn’t make it five years.

Joanne in the hospital, 2017

In September 2017, a second aneurysm, which was actually an outcropping of the first (the coils had compacted), ruptured, again while we were in Maine! This time it was a 4 (out of 5) on the Hunt & Hess scale. I had a much longer and more difficult journey to recovery, spending months in two different hospitals and three different rehab centers. I have no memory of the entire ordeal, so I lost six months of my life. And I still have many deficits today, including balance issues, vision issues, headaches, nausea, anxiety and depression.

BAF: When did you first learn about the BAF?

JRF: I discovered the BAF after my first aneurysm rupture, when I was home recuperating, and trying to come to terms with what had happened to me. The website was chock-full of information, and I learned so much! Later, in Spring 2006, I participated in the BAF walk in Massachusetts, and met many fellow survivors there. I still keep in touch with some of them today.

BAF: Why is it important for you to be an advocate for the BAF community?

JRF: I’m always amazed at how many people misunderstand brain aneurysms! One of the reasons I wrote RUPTURED (besides reaching out to young people with parents who have serious illnesses, to give them hope) was to try to educate people about brain aneurysm facts and figures. So many people seem to think that everyone who has a brain aneurysm rupture dies! This is simply not true. Around half of us live!

I also want to impress upon people that many of us survivors have deficits that may not be obvious to the outside world. But we’re still here.

And I give money annually because I think the BAF is doing excellent work!


We would like to thank Joanne for her support and for mentioning the BAF in her book. If you would like to purchase Ruptured, please click the button below. 

Purchase Joanne’s Book

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