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Four years ago, my husband, Jason, began having headaches. We were very busy with our four children, and at first, we thought the headaches were caused by stress, and we joked about them being caused by our youngest’s “terrible twos.”

But the headaches began to get worse, so one day, we made the decision to go to the emergency room. The doctors in the ER performed tests, and when they came back, they said three of the worst words I’ve ever heard: “we found something.”

Not long after that, Jason was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma — brain cancer. And one of the worst, most aggressive kinds.

Jason was only 37. We were healthy and active, and, despite the headaches, it felt like cancer had come out of nowhere. Of course, I immediately thought of our children.

“Would he be able to see them grow up? Were we even going to make it through another couple of months?” I thought. It felt like our lives just stopped right in front of us.

Jason’s doctor recommended that we travel four hours to Roswell Park to decide on his course of treatment. Once were there, we decided to do surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. We had to stay at Roswell Park during the week, and we drove home on the weekend to see the kids. It was hard being away and it was stressful for the kids, but I knew that if we didn’t make that decision, they would lose their father.

During Jason’s treatment, he had an allergic reaction to the chemotherapy, and he had to stop receiving it. Not long after that, the doctors found another tumor. The cancer was back. I knew the statistics: that this form of recurrent brain cancer meant that Jason was expected to live for only months.

We tried our best to remain optimistic, and Jason underwent another surgery. But after the operation, Jason couldn’t go back on the same chemotherapy drug because of his allergic reaction. It felt like we were out of options, and I was so discouraged.

Then, Jason’s doctor, Dr. Robert Fenstermaker, told us about a clinical trial that was available. He and his team had received funding from fundraising events like the Empire State Ride to develop a cancer vaccine, and he asked if Jason wanted to go on the clinical trial to help test the drug.

We knew there was a chance it wouldn’t work, but we felt like we had nothing to lose. The news from Jason’s doctor gave us a little bit of hope, and we knew that even if the vaccine didn’t help Jason, we could be part of something that could help people down the road.

Now, Jason has been on the clinical for three years, and as I write this today, he has no evidence of cancer. He’s playing ball with the kids, going fishing with them, taking them to the drive-in and helping our oldest, Stephanie, start high school. We are just enjoying our lives and taking the time to appreciate what we have.

Him still being here for our children, and for me, it means the world to me. I cannot describe in words what this vaccine has done for us. It has saved someone’s life.


About the Author

The Empire State RIde is a fully supported seven day ride across New York State with one mission: win the fight against cancer.
Post Category: Where The Funds Go, Why I Ride