DETROIT – Father’s Day is special for all dads, but even more so for two Macomb county fathers who will celebrate while being treated for brain cancer – something they do almost all the time. Dr. Robert Gryebet of Macomb, 63, and Andrew Tobin of St. Clair Shores, 32, were diagnosed with glioblastoma (GBM) in March 2019 and September 2017, respectively.
Gryebet is the father of three adult children – one daughter, Stephanie, is a pharmacy resident at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, another daughter, Dena, is a teacher and his son, Raymond, is in law school. Gryebet is a dentist who practiced in Sterling Heights, alongside his brother Dr. Randolph Gryebet who is also a dentist, up until his diagnosis when he retired to focus on treatment and healing. He has been in practice since 1983, when he graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy with a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. Christine Gryebet, Robert’s wife, is a dental business manager at dental offices in Grosse Pointe and Macomb.
Tobin and his wife, Ashley, welcomed twins, Fiona Rae and Declan James, into the world just 18 months ago. Despite being treated for GBM, he still works full time as a Quality Control manager at a local food production facility. Leading up to his diagnosis, Andrew checked into a local hospital with persistent migraines and came out more than a week later after a brain tumor was detected and an emergency craniotomy was preformed to remove it from his frontal lobe.
“At first, doctors thought the headaches were caused by tension,” Tobin said. “When they discovered it was a brain tumor, I had the emergency surgery and then started looking at where I was going to go for treatment. I had always heard great things about Henry Ford and I’m very thankful I went there.”
While Gryebet and Tobin may not know each other personally, they are united in their fight against brain cancer as both are currently using an FDA-approved device called Optune®, which creates low-intensity, electric tumor-treating fields. To deliver the fields, four transducer patches are applied to the scalp and connected to the battery-operated device. The low frequency current is thought to disrupt cell division in the tumor and may stop or slow the growth of cancer cells. In some cases, the tumor-treating fields may kill cancer cells.
“I’ve been wearing the device for about seven months now,” Gryebet said. “It’s recommended to wear it at least 75 percent of the time, but I’ve been wearing it even more than that. I’m a competitive guy. I’ve seen the stories of people who have lived years with GBM, and I’m determined to be in that club.”
As much of a difference as Optune makes for patients like Tobin and Gryebet, brain cancer treatment requires more than a physical effort, according to James Snyder, D.O., neuro-oncologist in the Department of Neurosurgery at Henry Ford Health System.
“Having a positive attitude during treatment really does make a world of difference,” Dr. Snyder said. “Mr. Gryebet and Mr. Tobin are both diligent and consistent in wearing the Optune cap, which is hugely important, but even beyond that they maintain a mentality that they will stay strong as they go through treatment. Both are continuing to live their lives to the fullest.”
For Gryebet and Tobin, choosing the right team of healthcare providers has been a crucial part of their journey through GBM treatment.
“Whenever I’ve had a question regarding anything about GBM or my treatment, I run it by my care team and they are always extremely responsive. They are there for me every step of the way and having that support is invaluable. I can’t say enough about how much that means to me,” said Gryebet.
To learn more about brain tumor treatment at Henry Ford Health System or to request an appointment, visit henryford.com/services/brain-tumors.
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