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I was someone who never thought about brain tumors. I didn’t get my first headache until I was 37. I dismissed them for a long time, and chalked it up to being stressed. They would get bad, though. I would hear this sound in my head that I can’t even describe, and be in a trance-like state for about 30 seconds. A day before I was scheduled to be at the Daytona 500, I was bowling with my wife when a headache came on. Everyone insisted I go to the hospital. After spending six hours in the waiting room, I was ready to walk out when I was finally called back to see a doctor. They took a CT scan, and I was left waiting again. Just as I was packing up my stuff to leave, I heard someone running down the hall. The doctor came in and said he had called a neurosurgeon to come see me immediately. I knew something had to be wrong. When I met with the neurosurgeon, he told me it was a brain tumor and I had to be hospitalized. I decided against hospitalization at that time. I went home and did my research. Shortly thereafter I returned to a hospital with a recommended doctor and scheduled my surgery.
I had such an outpouring of support before surgery. Even though I was not able to go to the Daytona 500, I got well wishes from people there. Jay Leno called me from the pace car to wish me the best with surgery. I felt better heading into surgery than I had in a while because of all the support. My wife even tells me I was smiling as I was wheeled to the operating room.
After a nine-hour surgery, the doctors deemed it successful. As it turned out, there was a one-in-six million chance of developing the type of tumor I had. It took me about eight weeks to recover, but I came back 100%. After that, any little headache made me wonder if my tumor was coming back. It made me think differently.
Get Your Head In The Game® means everything to me. I want to educate the African American community about brain tumors. They don’t think about them, just like I never did, but brain tumors can happen to anyone. No one is immune to developing a brain tumor, and if you do, I want people to know that it is not the end of the world. There are some excellent neurosurgeons available, and technology is getting better every day.
I know now I waited too long before I got my headaches checked out. I want to bring awareness to this disease, not to scare people. I overcame my brain tumor, and I want people to know they can overcome it, too.