My Dad and GBM
May 16, 2014 started out like any other day, except the fact that my dad experienced 2 seizures, hours apart. We initially thought it might be a stroke, but after taking him to the ER, and having an x-ray and CT scan, it showed that there was a mass on the left side of his brain. From there, things happened so fast- he was admitted, had a full body MRI to see if there were any other tumors, and then a biopsy to determine what kind of mass this was.
We got the worst news- it was GBM grade IV, the most aggressive type of primary brain cancer. To make matters worse, he didn’t have just a single mass, but 5 small ones, all inoperable. We had never heard of this type of cancer, so we had no idea what to expect.
After researching and discovering that there were limited treatment options to choose from, my dad decided to pursue the typical chemo and radiation combination. He was a fighter and he was determined to give it his best shot. The chemo was taken orally (Temodor) for 6 weeks, 7 days a week, and the radiation was 6 weeks, 5 days a week. He was also placed on an anti-seizure medication, Kepra, to prevent any future seizures. Throughout the treatment he felt good, but there were restrictions. He couldn’t really speak as clearly, or write, his whole right side of the body weakened, and he couldn’t walk or balance as long or steadily, like he used to.
After treatment, on August 15th, he went back to the hospital and stayed there for 10 days. He had contracted sepsis, and his immune system was so severely compromised, we feared we would loose him. He slept and slept, and ended up losing 20 lbs, all muscle.
But against all odds, he got better and was sent home. Sadly from there though, things got worse. He lost his ability to walk, to dress, to bathe, to read, eat, and even speak. He slept a lot, and lost most of his short term memory. He tried an additional form of treatment after chemo/radiation ends, called Avastin, but only did 2 sessions- the side effects were too much for him to bear. On November 12, 2014, my dad lost his battle with GBM. Within 6 months, this cancer took my dad.
All cancer is evil, but this is the most heinous and selfish cancer of them all. It robs you of your independence, of your memories, of your life. No one or their family should ever have to endure what my dad had to endure. It’s so imperative that we find a marker for this cancer, or better yet, a cure. My dad was healthy as a horse, never smoked, rarely drank, was physically active, and mentally stable. There are no genetic ties, no lifestyle factors, that influence the growth of this cancer. Your brain controls everything in your body, and you can’t live without your brain.
Awareness and publicity is much needed and with all of us affected, directly and indirectly, I know we can make a great impact.
Thank you for taking the time to read my dad’s story, I hope it helps in some way.