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GBM Day for Us

Published on November 22, 2023 in Share Your Story

Guest Author: Ayako B. in New Jersey

On the afternoon of Thursday, July 22, 2021, my husband Paul was out on his usual favorite bike ride to Piermont, NY. On his way home, he crashed into a parked car, breaking his left hip and shoulder. Our family was a bit confused how Paul, an experienced cyclist who always took proper safety precautions, could have crashed in this way. We soon found out the cause: a CT scan discovered a plum-sized glioblastoma brain tumor, which likely caused a seizure that caused Paul to swerve out of control.

We knew so little about Glioblastoma before that day; our family had no way of knowing how much this cancer would impact us. We soon discovered Paul’s accident was one day after GBM day, 2021. I asked him to stay strong, and we promised to attend the next GBM day together. Paul fought bravely, undergoing multiple surgeries and both standard and non-standard treatments to prolong his life so that we could spend more time together. He passed away in the early morning of Thursday, July 21, 2022, the day after GBM Day. Although he was barely breathing by then, he kept our promise to attend the GBM day together.

Glioblastoma entered our lives unexpectedly and took Paul’s life so quickly. For our family, 2021 started with very happy notes. In March, Paul officiated the civil wedding ceremony of our older son in our backyard. In June, our younger son had a beautiful wedding at the New Jersey shore, where Paul gave a memorable (and funny) speech. We were preparing for a trip to Greece (a first for Paul and me) to celebrate our older son’s wedding reception in late August. All that changed on July 22, 2021. 

After the accident, Paul spent a full month in the hospital/rehab recovering from the bicycle accident that broke his hip and shoulder. The challenges associated with the cancer diagnosis were difficult enough, and the injuries from the crash compounded our struggles. The second craniotomy cleared 98-99% of the tumor, greatly improving his survivability. However, he could not tolerate the standard treatments, as his platelet count reached dangerous levels. Paul bravely tried the experimental treatments, but those came with their own harsh side effects. He had a successful third craniotomy, but unfortunately, the tumor spread and grew very aggressively.

The tumor mostly impacted his language abilities, and although Paul could barely speak, write, type, or read, he understood everything until the end. He was amazingly strong and stayed calm the whole time. Paul was a good husband, a good father, and a good person. He was always kind to everyone, even when battling his illness. He also never lost his optimistic spirit and sense of humor. I miss him deeply.

Another GBM Day is coming up. He won’t be present, but I know he will be with me. He passed on but has not left us. His love and spirits live on within us forever.

Opinions expressed within this story belong solely to the author and do not reflect the views or opinions of the National Brain Tumor Society.

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