Brain Tumor Survivor: Joseph A.

Last updated: 5/6/17

Spacer On the night of December 25, 2012, I went to bed and had a grand mal seizure for the first time ever. The only thing I remember was waking up on a stretcher as I was being lifted into an ambulance. I failed to answer basic questions. I was so confused and had no idea what was happening. I was rushed to the local hospital where they preformed a cat scan. The results showed an 8cm tumor on the right frontal lobe of my brain.

Spacer This news left my wife and I speechless. It was so much to digest. She cried, I sat there in disbelief. I was than transported by ambulance to another hospital where they performed an MRI and another catscan. Unfortunately but expected, the same results from the first hospital were confirmed. We were told that I needed to be operated on as soon as possible. Luckily, one of the best brain surgeons in New York state was on call that night. After some quick but thorough research, my family and I decided to go ahead with the surgery. My doctor and his team were able to remove the entire tumor. It was completely incapsulated so the doctor was almost certain the tumor was benign. I was in intensive care for 7 days following the surgery. I had several more seizures while recovering and was put on Keppra, an anti-seizure medication. About a week or two after discharge, I was still in bed recovering and I received the phone call no one wants to get. My pathology report came back as a Malignant tumor. I was diagnosed with Grade 3 brain cancer, anaplastic astrocytoma.

SpacerMy family and I were devastated, but little did we know what an amazing journey all of this was leading us to. Before that first seizure I thought my life was going great. I just turned 31 six days prior. I had a great job. My wife and I had purchased our first home that year. We had a beautiful one year old baby boy. Life seemed perfect.....than we got the curve ball.

SpacerMy first reaction was similar to most people's when they get news like this, why me? what did I do to deserve this? My wife and I went to see the Neurosurgeon for a follow-up and he recommended our next stop.....Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Our appointment at Sloan Kettering came quickly. We received more information on my diagnosis and my treatment schedule. I did not like hearing the statistics, especially when they confirm what Dr. Google said (lol), but we decided to take this head on. My treatment was as follows:

Spacer 30 Days of radiation with weekends off, 6 weeks of temodar everyday, and then 12 months of temodar, 7 days on, 23 days off.

Spacer The radiation was a little rough towards the last couple weeks and than after. I didn't like watching my hair come out so I got to a point where I just decided to shave it all off.

Spacer Luckily, the chemo treatments with temodar weren't too bad and I was actually allowed to go back to my job on light duty towards the end of my treatment. Throughout all of this, it made me realize how blessed I am. I had such an awakening. I look at life with a whole new outlook and I'm grateful. This whole experience taught me to enjoy everything in a way I never have before. This completely transformed me. I started to take charge of my health in ways I never thought possible. I no longer procrastinate, no more putting anything on hold. This experience gave "living life" a whole new meaning to me. I can go on and on with how many miracles I received on my journey. Although everything wasn't easy, especially the beginning, my diagnosis saved me.

Here is a link to an article in Newsday about my story!


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