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BROOKS HENRY

Glioblastoma

TELL ME YOUR STORY

"So my entire life, I've never had any symptoms or anything from these tumors that I have or that I had. On July 13, at 4:00 AM I had a seven minute long seizure. My sister decided to sleep over that night, and she lives two doors down so she could have just walked home, but she just kind of had a feeling. Anyways, I had a seven minute long seizure and my sister thought I was having a bad dream at first, so she was kind of nudging me trying to wake me up. I wasn't waking up and I just kept shaking and shaking even harder and faster. At that point, she knew something was wrong so she got up and turned on the light and by the time she got out of bed and turned the light on I had bit through my tongue. So I was bleeding out of my mouth with a ton of saliva in my mouth too. She instantly related to like in movies, when white stuff is coming out of their mouths it means they're dead. Yeah so she thought I was dead, but she moved me to the middle of the bed and turned me on my side so all the stuff would come out and I wouldn’t choke on it. She called 911 and yelled upstairs to my grandparents because their bedroom was right above mine so they could hear. The ambulance and the cops and everything came and they had to take me out. They couldn't fit a stretcher through the corners of my doors so they took me out in this body bag thing. As they were taking me out, I kind of came to consciousness. When I was outside and almost to the ambulance and I saw my mom and sister standing above me I was like, "I don't think I'm this bad" and then I looked at the ambulance and was like "this is gonna be expensive". So I was taken to the American Fork hospital and they told us at first that usually with seizures that happen randomly, they're just random. So with seizures, they're required to do a CAT scan and blood work. They did a CAT scan and blood work, and the blood work came back good but not the CAT scan. Long story short, they found two big masses in my brain. One tumor was the size of a tennis ball and the other was one and a half times the size more. They were confused because I should have been having really bad migraines. They couldn't keep me at the American Fork hospital because they don't have an oncologist on call, so they transferred me to Utah Valley Provo hospital. When I got there, they said that I would need emergency surgery just to remove them because they were too close to my motor strip in my motor function. The next day I had a four hour surgery and they were a little scared after because when my anesthesia levels in my body dropped down back to zero, I still wouldn't wake up. 

 

After an hour and a half, I started coming to consciousness and asking me questions like "what day is it?" and I was like "no clue". So I was in the ICU for the next few days and then after that I went into a patient room. I'm missing about 35% of my brain now. The weird thing I didn’t even know about was that they told me those tumors had been growing from anywhere between 5 to 10 years ago. Slowly as the tumor took over parts of my right side of my brain, my left side of my brain was starting to mirror the right side because it’s the smartest part. The left side is all of your learning components so it started learning how to do what the right side does. The surgeon told me that when he was in there the right side of my brain was just dead. This made sense because the right side of your brain is all of your emotional personality and I don’t have much emotion anymore. I mean, I’m still happy and I can still get mad, but as far as being super sad and depressed I’m just not really. They told me I should probably get my IQ checked because your IQ comes from the left side so they think I’m like a super genius now. Usually the surgeon when they feel the tumors in the brain, they can tell whether if they’re super hard or kind of squishy which lets them know if they are benign or not. The surgeon was pretty sure they were both benign, but he said one of them was pretty soft but harder on the inside. He didn’t think it was cancerous though but they still sent it off for testing.

 

I stayed in the hospital for six days total and then I got to go home. They did a pathology report of my tumors and it took about 2-3 weeks for those reports to get back. They saw some weird cells and didn’t know what they were so they sent it back to an advanced pathology lab. So that came back and they did find cancer cells.

 

So it’s about August 2021 now, and I went to an oncologist so he could read my report. He diagnosed me with glioblastoma tumors and that in a few weeks I would be starting radiation and chemo.On August 28, I started my chemo. I did chemo every single day for six weeks and then I was doing radiation Monday through Friday every week. I finished chemo on October 10 and radiation on October 12. At that point, they redid my MRIs and the tumor in my motor strip only shrunk by a centimeter and it’s about 19 centimeters by 20 centimeters. So I started a new treatment plan where I do five days of chemo at double strength per month for 14 months. I do 5 days on and 23 days off. They told me that since it’s double strength it’s probably going to affect me this time. It definitely affected me because the morning after I took the first pill I went to get out of bed and immediately passed out back on my bed. So I’m doing that along with this head piece I’m wearing. The head piece makes it so the cells can’t multiply and divide anymore. This is a new device that’s meant for my type of cancer but the studies they did with it shows that the people that were doing this had like two and a half times more chance of living five to ten years longer than people who don’t use it. That’s kind of where I’m at now."

WHAT WAS THE HARDEST CHALLENGE?

"Not being able to work and the fatigue. I sit here some days and I literally don’t even have the energy to get off the couch or to even get a glass of water. I work at a salon in Pleasant Grove and I’ve been doing hair for about three years now. Now with everything, I’m only doing haircuts and not color, which is my favorite thing. Also because I can’t really work anymore I have a lot of medical bills but I’m not making money. A lot of people have done fundraisers for me but that still doesn’t cover everything."

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU'VE LEARNED?

"Not taking things for granted and who your true friends are. I took for granted where I live and work. I wouldn’t have the place where I live if it wasn’t for my grandparents. The people who were true friends were those that were at the hospital and surrounding me. When you go through something like that you just need supportive and encouraging friends around you."

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST BLESSING THAT HAS COME FROM THIS?

"My family and friends, and their support. Specifically my sister who literally saved my life."

IF YOU COULD SAY ONE THING TO SOMEONE WHO IS STRUGGLING WITH THIS NOW, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?

"Keep a positive mindset and attitude no matter how hard it gets. I know that when I get into that dark hole, that is when I stop healing. Also, find natural remedies. As soon as I switched to natural remedies I felt so much better. The drugs are just numbing you and not really healing you. Lastly, ask people for help. It’s hard but just do it. You have to learn to let your ego and walls go down." 

BROOK'S VENMO

@brooks_henry

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