Jon was diagnosed with GBM in December 2012. He was treated at the Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann/UT Health. His brain surgeon was Dr. Nitin Tandon, his Neuro-Oncologist was Dr. Jay-Jiguang Zhu, and his Radiation Oncologist was Dr. Angel Blanco.
We heard about Run for the Rose from another participant who is a patient at Mischer. We actually met him on the elevator back in December 2012 when we were headed to the first doctor’s appointment after Jon’s surgery. I’ll never forget that day; it was THE appointment where we learned that Jon had GBM. I had been up just about all night worrying and the next morning I felt sick with anxiety. Jon, my mom, dad, and I got on the elevator and another man got on with us. Jon was in a wheelchair, a large horseshoe shaped incision on the left side of his head completely exposed; staples, dried blood, and all. I expected the man to look away, afraid to look and risk making eye contact. Instead, the man on the elevator looked at us and said, with his Irish lilt, that he knew what we were going through. He pulled off his hat and pointed to the right side of his head, said that he had the same exact procedure. He has the same exact horseshoe scar. He said that he was 2 years out and was finally starting to get some hair back in that area.
I truly feel, as terrifying and horrible as this experience had been at times, that we were in the right place at the right time. I know we were fated to meet that patient because in the moment that he reached out to us, all of my anxiety vanished. He gave me the greatest gift of all…HOPE! To see him 2 years into it going strong, going to work, leading a fairly normal life; it was a beautiful moment. Dr. Zhu told us later in the appointment that many of their patients allow their personal contact info to be given out to other patients facing the same illness for support. I told him about the man in the elevator. We got his info and we’ve kept in touch since then.
We walk in support of Jon and all the others whose lives are touched by this illness. I also think it will help us to interact with others who have dealt with the same issues. My brother was such an inspiration; he had a good attitude and sense of humor. I am so excited that the funding goes to our researchers right here in Houston and I can’t wait to see everyone!
John passed away February 17, 2016.