Everyone will pretty much agree that childhood cancer should not happen. If this horrible disease strikes a child most any parent would ask God to spare their child and “give” the beast to them. My story is no different. Imagine having a very active child that loves baseball, basketball, football, and is the fastest child in his elementary school. Little Johnny was ticketed to be a major league baseball player someday because he is a natural. His batting average was .767 when he was only 8 years old! When Johnny turned 11 he began to have what he called “feelings”. He would go into a trance and stare for about a minute. Behavior swings then began with Johnny getting angry at the simplest things. Once his dad had to break up a fight with his older brother. Johnny had two D size batteries, one in each fist because he really wanted to hurt his brother. Family counseling sessions were started because he couldn’t control his temper when he was 14.
At 15, the seizures, headaches, and nausea were constant. Since the four different doctors he went to couldn’t find anything wrong Johnny was sent to a psychologist where he was told his headaches were caused by his hatred of his little sister (totally untrue). Johnny was operated on after they found a grapefruit size mass near his right temporal lobe behind his right eye. Ironically, Johnny had told the doctors and his parents he had a brain tumor behind this same eye over a year earlier! One of the doctors told him, “You might as well go outside that window, dig a 6 foot hole and jump in because you would be dead if you had a brain tumor!” Imagine his parents shock when they discovered Johnny had been right. Ten years after the surgery one of the attending doctors during Johnny’s surgery told him, “You are a fool for not having a CT scan every year. Your type of brain tumor always, always, ALWAYS COMES BACK.”
Although his tumor was given a grade 2, it had long threadlike strands that ran deep into his brain. They called it a fibrilliary astrocytoma, but since it was removed on January 16, 1969, who knows if it would be graded the same today? This story has a happy ending because the very aggressive surgery by a miracle surgeon, Dr. David Roth at Kettering Memorial Hospital did in fact get all of the tumor. Despite his assistant telling Johnny that it would always, always, always come back (which quite literally scared the s**t out of Johnny and his wife) it hasn’t. It’s not a whole lot of fun being told you have a walking time bomb inside your head that might show up and explode your life again at any time. Despite this Johnny pushed on with his life, received his MBA with honors, had three kids, started and grew a very successful business, and most importantly kept his priorities right. Yes, little Johnny has done just fine as it’s now been 42 YEARS since that big grapefruit was removed from the right side of his brain.
The beast has never returned despite what the doctor told him in 1980. A miracle? Perhaps, but Johnny still practices his mental imaging of visualizing his strong, vibrant brain cells destroying the cancer cells just to be sure. And he THANKS GOD every night for giving him that day because he knows how truly blessed he is. He’s been doing this EVERY DAY FOR ABOUT 40 YEARS. How do I know this? Because I am little Johnny, now 57 and never taking anything for granted. My mission in life is to help more kids with cancer (and their parents) have a hopeful and healthy future. Chemotherapy hadn’t been invented in 1969 so I didn’t have this. They decided not to do radiation because back then it was whole head radiation. My neuro thought he got it all after cutting and burning the glioma out. And I have to share this, when my mom asked Dr. Roth how it went he said, “I think I got it all”. Then he took her hand, laid it on a bible and said, “I’ve done all I could and now it’s in God’s hands.”