As many of you know, in October of 2015, my step-father was diagnosed with a stage four Glioblastoma. Glioblastoma is a very aggressive brain tumor that has devastating consequences for those afflicted with it. While there are promising clinical trials in the pipeline, there is currently no cure. Each year, thousands of people are diagnosed with Glioblastoma, which accounts for roughly 50% of all brain tumors. Recent individuals include Senator Ted Kennedy, Beau Biden and Senator John McCain.
Treatment involves a several hour brain surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible followed by intense radiation and regular chemotherapy. As a result of the tumor and intensive treatment, people with Glioblastoma often face several physical and neurological obstacles that include loss of speech, diminished mental processing, muscle weakness (which limits the ability to walk) and severe fatigue. These symptoms affect the basic actions that so many of us take for granted in our daily lives and only become pronounced as the disease progresses. Glioblastoma does not affect one’s ability to laugh, smile, love or be loved.
My step-father is trying every day to live his life with as much enjoyment, humor, compassion and love as possible. Through his perseverance and with the help of the incredible medical staff at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, he has been a role model for anyone enduring difficult times. He has already overcome incredible obstacles in his treatment and continues to amaze his doctors and his family and friends. He reminds me every day of all of the beauty in the world and demonstrates a courage and overwhelming positive attitude to make the best of every moment. As he describes it, “it is what it is.” Every day, he inspires me by making the best of what it is.
The American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA), founded in 1973, was the first and is now the only national nonprofit organization in the United States dedicated to providing support services and programs to brain tumor patients and their families, as well as the funding of brain tumor research. As Massachusetts General notes, “for nearly 40 years, the Chicago-based ABTA has provided critical funding to researchers working toward breakthroughs in brain tumor diagnosis, treatment and care, and is the only national organization providing comprehensive resources and serving the complex supportive care needs of brain tumor patients and caregivers from diagnosis through treatment and beyond.” On a personal level, the ABTA has provided me with numerous resources, personal support and compassion during the last 22 months. They are truly, an incredible organization.
At the end of this month, I will turn 33 years old. I would like to use this birthday to ask my friends to consider donating $33, or whatever you are comfortable giving to the ABTA and their important mission. I have never done anything like this but hope we can use a happy celebration for some real good. If we all play a small part, I know that we can make a real difference for those in my family affected by this horrible cancer and for all of the families to come. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your generosity.