2016 Grand Mal Seizure & Surgery

Thank you to all of you who have been following my battle against brain cancer. Your love and support brings us so much strength. I wanted to share a few updates. I am writing this post, but Kris will edit for me, as I am still recovering from surgery.


On December 17th, only one week after running the Jacksonville Spartan, I was running a nighttime 5k in Palm Coast with my brother-in-law, Nick.  I was feeling great and running a good pace but, with less than a mile to go, I suddenly felt pressure in my head and I knew I was going to fall.  I had about 15 seconds to get off the pavement and onto the grass.  I tried grabbing a tree to keep myself from falling, but then I went into a full grand mal seizure and I don’t remember anything after that.  Thankfully, Nick was only about a minute behind me and as he came upon where I was lying he caught something moving out of the corner of his eye.  I was there by myself having the seizure and he quickly grabbed two bystanders, one to help hold me down and another to call 911.


The ambulance arrived within minutes and they quickly took me to the local hospital down the road.  I ended up having another seizure in the hospital before they were able to give me seizure medication and get me stabilized.  An emergency CT and MRI revealed that I had a small brain bleed near my tumors.  The scans also showed that there was swelling and tumor growth since my last scan in November.  Kris immediately called the team at Memorial Sloan Kettering and they kept in close contact with the hospital in Florida.  Everyone agreed that the best plan was to get me stable and back home to NY to have surgery as soon as possible.


It took 5 days to get my seizure medication figured out and the small break-through seizures I was having under control.  My doctors felt it was not a good idea to fly because the added pressure could trigger more seizures, so my father and brother-in-law, Keith, drove down straight through the night from NY to bring me back home.  Kris, James, and I loaded up in the truck and drove 18 hours back home to NY.  A word of wisdom, if you’re prone to seizures, driving that long with a three-year-old is probably not the best idea.  Especially if you have a rambunctious little guy like James.  Thankfully, we all survived!


The team at MSK squeezed me in on the Friday before Christmas and they scheduled surgery for the following Thursday, December 29th.  I checked in at 6am for surgery and the last thing I remember is Mumford and Sons playing in the OR right before the anesthesia kicked in.  The next thing I knew I was in the recovery room asking when the surgery was going to start.  Dr. Brennan once again did an amazing job and successfully removed majority of the tumors.  The plan was to keep me until Monday or Tuesday to monitor for seizures, since I had that as a complication after my first surgery.  However, the team felt I was doing well enough by Saturday morning to be discharged!


We will be meeting with the team at MSK in the next week to discuss our plans for treatment moving forward.  Once again, the odds are not in our favor, but we are optimistic and will continue to cherish each and every day.  If you have any questions, you can reach out to us on the Youcanthurtsteel Facebook page.  The next few weeks will be busy for us, but we’ll try to get back to you as soon as we can.



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