In July of 2002, I was diagnosed with a Stage 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme Tumor located in the right frontal lobe of my brain. That was 7 years ago and I had just turned 37 the month before. At the time, my wife and I had been married for 10 years and we had 3 children, Jacob (8), Benjamin (6) and Hannah (2). Prior to my diagnosis, I had been having severe headaches that my Dr. just told me were probably migraines and not to worry about it and to just take Advil.
After about 4 months of these come and go headaches, my vision began to get blurry with the headaches. I had to call my Dr. again and tell him that this was not normal and that he needed to schedule a scan of my head.
Since I have a pacemaker (put in when I was 20 due to an electrical anomaly in my heart) I couldn’t get an MRI, so I had a CT Scan. Immediately after the scan was done thatFriday night, they admitted me to the hospital and scheduled me for surgery Sunday morning.
My family and I had the car packed and ready to go to Florida for summer vacation on Saturday. My parents were already there waiting for us (really bad day).after 5+ hours of surgery that Sunday, the surgeon had removed a 5 ½ oz tumor from my brain that had been wrapped around my optic nerve. When the pathology report came back the Dr’s told me that they don’t even treat that type of tumor and they recommended some specialists that I should talk to. The name that kept coming back was Dr. Henry Friedman at the Brain Tumor Center at Duke. They took me in right away and put together a treatment plan for me.
The Doctors told me that there was hope. I immediately began with 8 weeks of IMRT brain radiation and began my first round of chemotherapy. Shortly after my second round of chemo, there was some activity in the surgical cavaty and they brought me into a clinical trial that involved a new chemotherapy agent and additional medications administered with it. The trial lasted a year and I did another 2 years of chemo after that.
Today, I am six years with clean checkups, I have a CT scan every six months and I have follow up visits at Duke once a year. Six years ago I had to make a decision to fight or rollover, I chose and still choose to fight. I made a commitment that no matter what they asked me to do that I would do it. No matter what the side effects or risks. As I see it, I had no choice. The alternative was unacceptable and I was prepared to do anything no matter how scared I was and I was scared. I didn’t listen to any of the statistics and stayed away from anything or anyone negative. I tried crying, but it didn’t help and I stopped asking why me and started asking why not me.
As Cancer Fighters and survivors, we can not sit idle and wait for a miracle. we must fight fight fight, stay positive and not give up before the miracle happens. NEVER QUIT NEVER QUIT NEVER QUIT!
I believe that as a survivor, I have a responsibility to help others that are fighting and surviving by sharing my experience strength and hope so that they too may see that miracles do happen and you have to have faith that you will get there. Faith is hope with a track record so don’t stop hoping and do not give up.