“Proton therapy was the only curative course of treatment in my cancer journey that would not put me at risk for losing an additional 30 percent of my vision. Proton therapy took my vision loss risk from 30 percent to just three percent. For me, it was my only chance of ensuring I could watch my children grow up.”
As an endurance athlete, Brad spends many hours a week training for marathons and Ironman events. When he’s not running, he enjoys spending time with his wife and young children. So it’s no surprise, that cancer was the furthest thing from his mind four years ago.
However, a host of odd symptoms including an intense sense of déjà vu and a strange taste in his mouth even when he hadn’t eaten, led Brad to consult a neurologist. As an athlete acutely in tune with his body, he knew something was not right physically.
Initially, his neurologist pegged his symptoms to a form of epilepsy, but an MRI revealed a baseball sized tumor located on the right side of his brain.
At 31 years old, with a wife and new baby, and in peak athletic shape, the news came as a complete shock to Brad and his family.
Brad’s neurologist laid out three options to treat the tumor:
- Wait and watch
- Perform a biopsy on the tumor
- Remove as much of the tumor as possible
As the tumor was diffused across his brain, chemotherapy and traditional radiation were not viable options. Brad and his care team opted for option 3 and immediately scheduled surgery.
One month after diagnosis, Brad emerged from a successful surgery that strategically removed 95 percent of the tumor and returned home after a short hospital stay. Despite changes to his vision, Brad returned to his normal activity level just six months after his surgery, thanks to the support of an excellent care team.
Just a year following surgery, Brad could race again and competed for the first time in over a year at a local 10K, for which proceeds raised went directly to cancer research.
Shortly thereafter, however, a quarterly scan revealed that the remaining five percent of the tumor left in his brain during surgery had begun to grow. Brad’s case was sent to a panel of experts at Barnes-Jewish hospital, known as the “Tumor Board,” who decided proton therapy was the best course of action to defeat his cancer once and for all.
Proton therapy was the only curative course of treatment at this point in Brad’s cancer journey that would not put him at risk for losing an additional 30 percent of his vision or adversely affecting his quality of life, which he and his care team had worked so hard to rebuild. In fact, proton therapy took the risk of vision loss from 30 percent to just three percent.
Brad’s proton therapy was complemented with oral chemotherapy and traditional radiation. The care plan allowed him to keep working, running, and enjoying time with his young family while undergoing treatment.
His proton therapy radiation treatment proved successful and removed the five percent of the tumor left behind by surgery and, so far, there is nothing to indicate his cancer’s return. Other than the initial vision loss he experienced as a result of his surgery, Brad lives with no side effects following proton therapy and continues to enjoy his life as a competitive athlete, accomplished professional, and loving family man.
After having weathered the storm, Brad’s goal is to be the first person to live to 100 years having been diagnosed with brain cancer at 31. After four years of living cancer free and with a healthy lifestyle and continued optimism, Brad is surely on the right track.