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“My name is Andrew, I’m a brain tumor survivor, and here is my story:
It all started with a headache, a really bad one. I was lucky that I am at risk for aneurysms, because the doc immediately wanted me checked for a brain aneurysm. One hour after the test I got a call, saying I needed to come back the next day for a new MRI, because “they saw something”. Those three words “they saw something” would forever change my life.
After the MRI, I was shown a golf ball size tumor on the image from the scan. As only a neurosurgeon can put it: “It is in the best location possible and you have the perfect hairline.” I went for that infamous second opinion where I was told: “You are lucky to be alive.” Well, eight years later, I am still alive!
I have been at every NBTS New York City walk. The first walk was on my birthday 15 months after my surgery. Back then, I told my family that the only present I want for Father’s Day is to be here with me every year. And they did walk with me every year since!”
“So why the triathlon?” you may ask.
“I looked at this the same way I fight brain tumors: one surgery, and one treatment at a time and a lot of prayers. For me it was one race at a time and a lot of praying – and I do mean a lot of praying. This was the second hardest challenge I have ever undertaken.
The obstacles I faced at times during the races seemed insurmountable: A strained hamstring in training limiting my running. But once the races started, the inspiration I found was incredible.
A quote by Dean Kamazes, posted by my fellow brain tumor friend Ruth, helped me get through: “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”
I faced multiple other challenges in other races. I ran with food poisoning one day, and hobbled into the goal the other. I overcame cruel hills and steep roads. I kept repeating the saying “crawl if you must”. There was no quit.
What I have learned the last eight years is how precious life is. How anything good is worth fighting for. I completed the triathlons not only for myself, but also for my fellow brain tumor patients and survivors. They are all fighters, giving me the strength to complete my challenges. Remember it does not matter how hard the course or how sick the effort makes you, brain tumor survivors fight and push forward.
The day of the walk, we stand together, but this isn’t the only day of the year we do so. Every day is a battle, but we are strong fighters and continue to push forward no matter the obstacles we face. Enjoy today because tomorrow, we will continue the fight.