My life changed forever when my brain tumor was discovered. I'll never forget that day. I was playing with my young son-- we were running around, chasing each other, laughing and having a great time. My wife had to leave for a moment to take her mother to the store and they asked if I wanted to go with them. Something told me to stay at the house, so I did, and waited for them to come back. I continued playing with my son and the next thing I knew I was having trouble breathing and just fell over. It turns out that I had had a seizure. Lucky for me, my wife's sister who is a nurse, was at the house and was able to call for help. The next time I opened my eyes, I was in the hospital.
Doctors performed an MRI immediately and saw that I had a brain tumor but they did not know what kind of tumor it was. I was transferred to a local hospital in Galveston, Texas, where a neurosurgeon performed a biopsy in order to determine the tumor type. When they got the results, it was determined that I had an anaplastic astrocytoma, and doctors told my family that I did not have that long to live-perhaps 2 years. The doctor also told me that I could seek further treatment at a major cancer center in Texas, so I went there immediately and was given chemotherapy and radiation. I didn't respond too well to the treatments. They left me dizzy, nauseous, and with no energy at all. I was scared, I didn't feel well and I was very weak.
In less than a year, the cancer returned. We all prayed a lot but it was hard for me to stay positive. I knew God brought me this far and I knew he had a plan for me, but I could not understand why this was happening. My family was my lifeline during those tough times, especially my sister, Melissa. Everyone sent their care and concern - our pastor, church members, neighbors, everyone. I was able to stay motivated through their love and support.
For treatment this time, I was placed in an experimental clinical trial using the drug Temodar, which I took for two years. The side effects were continuous and I lost a lot of weight. Although I was able to put some of the weight I'd lost back on, I was nauseous most of the time. I was throwing up a great deal, which also made me weak. Melissa stayed with me, motivated me everyday to exercise and to just keep going. We argued a lot, but she wouldn't take no for an answer. She wanted me to make sure I knew I could pull through this. "You can do it!" she'd say. When I said "no", she said "YES YOU CAN!". That counts for a lot.
One of the hardest parts of dealing with this disease is trying to re-learn how to do things you used to do. My treatments left affected my balance, leaving my legs very weak. I could not walk and had to learn all over again-it was frustrating. But I did it. I'm walking all around now! I get check-ups every six months and every time, we pray. The Lord has brought me a long way, and I believe he is listening.