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My life was turned upside down in 1995 when my brother, Tom, was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme—or GBM—the most aggressive and deadliest of brain tumors. He passed away the following year, and as I was helping my family to plan his memorial service, we learned that my other brother, Joseph, had just received the same diagnosis. He passed less than a year later, just days before his daughter’s wedding.
In September of 1999, tragedy would strike my family for the third time, as my mother received a diagnosis of a GBM. She passed just three months later, the day after Christmas.
Nothing can describe the pain of how a brain tumor can affect your life and family or losing a family member to a brain tumor. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any easier when you lose three. I have dedicated my life as an Oncology clinical research operating room nurse, yet when this horrid disease took my family, I was lost and not sure how to care for my own family. My brothers were only 45 and 50 years old at the time with young children.
Having been so profoundly impacted by brain tumors, my family and I rallied together and turned our hurt into help. I have become actively involved with supporting the efforts with annual events in Tampa, FL, to help raise money for clinical research, provide one-on-one brain tumor education and counseling to families just like mine.
By surrounding myself with other families that have been impacted by brain tumors, helping to not only help assist in research by fundraising events, but our family had also enrolled in a global research study at MD Anderson for multifamily tumors. Being part of a worldwide research study of an elite group of 500 families with multi tumors within the same family, is not something I would wish on anyone. Our goal and determination are to help other families have hope, to find a cure and never have to go through what our family endured.