Age: 18 years old
high school senior
Hobbies: playing the guitar, listening to country music, participating in his church's youth group
Diagnosis: Neuroblastoma at age 16
his tumor was located on the outer edge of his cerebellum (part of his brain)
Family: He lives with his mom and dad and 16 year old brother. He has another brother who is 24 years old, is in the military and stationed at Fort Campbell, KY. He also has an older sister who is 22 and lives on her own. His family is very close-knit and they are a big part of his life.
Friends: He had a ton of friends in school before he got sick, but some just stopped talking to him, like they were afraid of him, or catching the disease. A few of his closest friends stuck by his side, including his now girlfriend of two years, Amy.
Symptoms before Diagnosis: He had terrible headaches all the time that progressively got worse and worse. They would get so bad sometimes his vision would go blurry. He finally went to the doctor when he started fainting.
Treatment Methods and Effects from it: He was treated with both surgery and radiation. Surgery to remove the tumor, and radiation to make sure any little bit remaining would also be destroyed. He lost his hair, some was shaved off for the surgery, he lost the rest from the radiation treatments. He had no appetite for a long time, ate very littler, and so he lost a lot of weight. The skin on his head became very dry, red, and irritated from the radiation as well.
Now that Treatments are Over: It took a while for him to gain his appetite back and start gaining weight again. He felt tired all the time for awhile, but that gradually got better too and he gained more energy. His hair grew back a little, but it is still very thin, especially in the spot of the direct radiation. It probably will never grow back completely because the hair follicles were destroyed by the radiation, but he just deals with it by always wearing a baseball cap.
How People Treated Him During His Sickness: He had been very popular in school, and he thought he had a lot of friends, but he feels that he learned who his true friends really are. A few stuck by him, calling and visiting really often both during and after treatments. Amy was just a friend before he got sick, but her caring and always being by his side during this drew them together even closer and he says he realized how much he cares for her, so they started dating. He says the worst thing was how strangers would always stare at him during his treatment. He knew he looked so sickly and bald, and he hated for people to always stare.
"Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I was one of the most popular guys in school. I played basketball and football, but when I started getting sick I had to quit. I took a year off of school, so I didn't get to graduate with all my friends. I am finishing up this year with a whole new group of people. Since my diagnosis, I have also started to learn how to play the guitar and I love it."
waiting to see if he gets accepted to James Madison University
wants to be a music teacher and lead the high school band