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A letter from Mike's wife...
When I met Mike in 2001, he had already had brain surgery seven years prior, in 1994. His doctors discovered an Astrocytoma and successfully removed it. Since 1994, he has endured many seizures, often daily. It was difficult for him to work and function some days. Mike trained for triathlons, but could not compete in as many as he would have liked due to his condition. It seemed as if nothing was helping him through his pain and discomfort.
In the summer of 2001, Mike’s sister found a neurologist at Henry Ford Hospital. His name was Dr. Brien Smith. Mike was a candidate for surgery and a trial medication. Mike had his brain mapped for a week in October 2001 and in May 2002 he had his second brain surgery. Mike’s team of doctors discovered another Oligodendroglioma and decided to treat it with twelve months of chemotherapy. We were married in June 2003, which was also his eleventh month of chemo. Everything was great and we thought he was cured from seizures.
Five years and tons of MRI’s later we had a son named Duncan. One year after Duncan was born, Mike had his first grand mal seizure at the eye doctor. We were scared that something was happening in his brain, when really, it was just because Mike wasn’t taking his medication. Back on meds, clean MRI’s and seizure free, five years later we had another son, Sean, in 2014.
In April 2014, Mike was experiencing numbness in his arms and auras. He did not say anything about it until December when we decided he immediately needed an MRI. The MRI revealed another Oligodendroglioma had returned. In March 2015, Mike had his third brain surgery. It was a new tool, called “The Intraoperative MRI.”
Today, he is on his fourth month of chemo out of 12. It is the same trial drug as in 2002, Temodar, but it is now a true drug in form. His latest MRI in June showed no changes and the tumor board at Henry Ford Hospital will discuss if six months of chemo is an option instead of twelve.
The many doctors and nurses at Henry Ford Hospital have to be thanked. For the past fourteen years Dr. Kost Elisevich, Dr. Tom Mikkelson, Dr. Brien Smith, and Dr. Steven Kalkanis have guided Mike through tough obstacles but, ultimately, saved his life.
With all this said, Mike is still a great provider. He goes to work every day to support his family even when he is weak or has nausea from the chemo. He is a T-ball coach for kindergartners, a dog trainer, and an avid hunter. Cancer, steroids, seizures, chemo and other drugs have not stopped Mike from enjoying his boys and life with his family. For this I treasure and love my husband. The scars on his head are just a small reminder of what he has been through. That does not stop him from moving forward with everyday obstacles, and he does not dwell on the next ten months of health hardship.
I am his caregiver and I would not give it up. He is my best friend and I love him!