My name is Kye. I’m 31 years old and I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. I’m writing this to spread the word about my stepfather Terry’s fight with brain cancer.
In August of 1996 when my stepfather Terry was 36, he and my mom went for a drive. Terry was behind the wheel and suddenly had a grand mal seizure which led to them crashing the car. They both seemed fine overall, until the doctors found the reason for Terry’s seizure – a brain tumour in his left frontal lobe. This area of the brain controls the motor skills on the right side of the body, speech and short term memory. At the time of diagnosis Terry asked the doctor if this could kill him, to which the surgeon told him yes it could. Terry’s answer was “well it won’t”. They told him the life expectancy with this type of tumour was 5 years. So in October of 1996 they operated on his brain and removed what they could without risking total quality of life, as this surgery could at worst, kill him. He came through the surgery amazingly well, and without complaint. He was then put on anti seizure drugs, and today, 16 years later, he’s still on them.
Over the next 9 years Terry had multiple seizures, trips to the hospital and was pretty much house bound for quite some time. Then in 2005 the doctors found new tumour growth and put Terry on his first round of chemotherapy. It was supposed to be for a year, but after 8 months, he had a heart attack. In 2007 the doctors put him on chemotherapy once again as well as radiation this time. If you’ve ever had radiation you already know how unpleasant it is. You get to have a special face mask made which is bolted to the table to hold you in place while you lay on the table. After that, he continued with chemotherapy, but after about 3 months he had a 2nd heart attack. These bouts of chemo did buy him time, but at what cost? In 2010 they put him on chemotherapy yet again, but in December of last year they told us they had found new growth in his MRI, so he would need brain surgery a 2nd time. Terry had the surgery right before Christmas, and they successfully removed the new growth.
A couple of weeks ago Terry went in for his regular checkup, still being chemotherapy, and the doctors had grim news – there was new “suspicious” growth and there was nothing more they could do for him. They’re not sure if the chemo is working or not, but there are no other options of treatment. The doctor made the news hundreds of times worse when she made the following callous comment “What’s the saying? Life is sh*tty and then you die?” I would like to ask you, WHO says something like that?!?
Through the last 16 years as Terry’s entire life has been turned upside down and inside out, he hasn’t complained. When I coaxed him through a seizure on the dining room floor, making sure he didn’t choke on what he’d been eating, he calmly complied with the paramedics as they arrived. When he was found on the bathroom floor in grand mal seizure after attempting to have a shower, he didn’t focus on the negative. When he was forced to leave his job he took on the role of Mr Mom without complaint. When he could no longer ride his beloved motorcycle he simply sold it and moved on. He has stayed positive and adamant he won’t let this tumour win.
Now going through all of this alone is bad enough, but at the time of Terry’s last brain surgery last December, he and my mom also bought a house. A place to call their own where Terry could enjoy whatever time he does have in peace. The company they bought it from were building it and when they moved in, it wasn’t quite complete. The builder said of course it would be just as soon as the snow cleared. That was almost a year ago, and this builder has done nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true if you count the harassment. This person had the nerve to show up at my parents house this summer and scream at Terry about them wanting the house finished and he not wanting to adhere to the contract. Terry has problems with his speech on a good day, but screaming obscenities in his face is absolutely disgusting. The builder knows Terry’s issues, and the entire story, but I guess some people don’t understand how stress like that can affect the mind and body. Terry needs to stay positive and upbeat, not be screamed into submission and depression. Who takes advantage of a sick person like that anyway??? The house is still incomplete, the safety issues still ignored and the contract still not completed. It is a huge mess that Terry stresses over each and every day, worrying that he won’t be here to help my mom get it all finished.
Since hearing the less than hopeful news a couple of weeks ago from the doctor, Terry has decided to stop taking chemotherapy. He isn’t giving up; he’s just tired of feeling sick all the time. He’s tired of fighting so hard to do everyday things. He’s tired of being tired. Though it scares and pains me to think of the possibilities, I stand behind his decision 100%.
The thing is, he’s only 51 and has barely lived his life. He’s a brave and strong man, who has fought hard for over a decade and a half to beat the odds and stay with us. He’s done an amazing job and we’re all very proud of him. We’re proud to say this man is one we know and love and are all standing behind him armed and ready for whatever is next.
I’ve started this fundraiser for him, without his or my mother’s permission. I didn’t ask them because they’d have only said no. I didn’t warn them because they’d have only tried to stop me. I just think that this man who has been through so much deserves a chance to finally enjoy some of the life he was given while he still can. To get the house in order so he can stop stressing every minute of every day. Maybe even to do the one thing he’s always dreamed of doing – go to Fenway Park and watch a live Redsox game. So I’m asking anyone who’d like and is able to donate what you can.
Let’s see if we can keep that fantastic smile on Terry’s face for as long as possible.