Tennessee health care worker diagnosed with brain cancer recites all 50 states during surgery

Memorizing all 50 states and quickly reciting them in alphabetical order is not an easy task for most people under normal circumstances. But one 24-year-old boy made it seem that way under the most unusual of circumstances.

Jayden Zientara, a medical partner at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, recently underwent brain surgery.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, she talked about her brain surgery journey, including the shocking journey leading up to her diagnosis and the aftermath.

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The 24-year-old said it all started with a severe migraine in late November 2023.

“I’ve never had a migraine or a headache, so like everyone else, I took ibuprofen and Tylenol in hopes that it would go away,” she said.

Jayden Zientara of Tennessee told Fox News Digital that he had been suffering from migraines that wouldn’t go away. (Jaden Zientara)

After another miserable 24 hours, Zientara decided to go to the emergency room to see if the doctors there could deal with the pain.

“I was prescribed sleeping pills and headache medication and told to get a CT scan if the migraine didn’t go away within 24 hours,” she recalled.

Two days later, Zientara said the pain didn’t go away, so she went for tests.

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“After the CT, they told me there was a brain mass and I needed to be taken to Vanderbilt for an MRI,” she said.

An MRI scan revealed that Zientara had a brain tumor, roughly the size of a baseball, that would require surgery to remove.

Jaden Zientara

Zientara was shocked to learn she had a brain tumor and will soon begin her first six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. (Jaden Zientara)

Within days, Zientara underwent surgery.

Doctors removed and biopsied her tumor and confirmed it was a brain tumor.

“My brain tumor is called an astrocytoma, and it’s common in men over 40 and children under 2,” she said.

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It took doctors about 12 hours to remove the rare tumor.

But Zientara had to stay awake for part of the time so her brain could be stimulated during the surgery.

Zientara said that before the surgery, doctors asked her what she could work on during surgery to stimulate her brain.

Zientara said the Boston Celtics and his brother are topics he can “talk about for hours.”

Jayden Zientara undergoing surgery

Doctors woke up Zientara towards the end of the surgery and confirmed that her brain was being stimulated. (Jaden Zientara)

“We also said we could list all 50 states in alphabetical order,” she said.

So during surgery, medical staff asked her about the 50 states, and Zientara began singing while doctors removed the brain tumor.

“It’s a song I’ve known since I was young,” she told FOX News Digital.

She added, “I learned it in elementary school, so I still haven’t forgotten it.”

Jaden Zientara Post-surgery

Zientara recently underwent brain surgery to remove a tumor that doctors said was the size of a baseball. During surgery, medical staff asked him about his 50 states, and Zientara began singing a song listing all 50 states in alphabetical order. (Jaden Zientara)

Zientara said she doesn’t remember what happened during the surgery, but loved watching the video of herself singing and naming all 50 states.

The patient’s mother, Jamie Zientara, said she was shocked to see her daughter reciting such words during surgery.

“I knew some kind of video would be recorded,” she said.

“The exposure and outpouring of support she received was amazing.”

“But I wasn’t expecting that.”

He added: “The exposure and outpouring of support she has received has been amazing.”

Since then, Jayden Zientala has returned to Illinois with his family to prepare for upcoming chemotherapy and radiation treatments.


Jaden Zientara said each treatment lasts six weeks, but he’s not afraid of the process.

“After my first brain surgery, I guess you could say I turned pro,” she joked.

Jaden Zientara undergoing surgery

Jayden Zientara, 24, recently underwent brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. During her surgery, she sang all 50 states in alphabetical order. (Jaden Zientara)

The care worker said her mother had provided her with great support during this time, which she was grateful for.

Zientara also has a GoFundMe page set up to help with medical expenses.

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Fox News Digital has reached out to Zientara’s doctors for further comment.

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