A father who was told his neck pain might have been caused by poor posture while working from home during lockdown was devastated to learn that he has an inoperable brain tumor.
Gary Nelson was in pain while working long hours remotely during the April pandemic.
The marketing manager contacted his GP and learned that the discomfort may be related to posture due to overuse of the laptop and too much time spent on Zoom calls.
After the 42-year-old's eyesight deteriorated, he was referred for tests that revealed the harrowing diagnosis that he had an aggressive tumor on the brain stem – likely caused by radiation therapy he received as a child for a low-grade tumor.
Gary (left with his daughter Olive, 2, and his wife Amy) is now undergoing chemotherapy because surgery would paralyze him from the waist down and radiation therapy would lead to brain necrosis
Gary, of Chester, is about to undergo chemotherapy because surgery would have paralyzed him from the waist down and radiation therapy could lead to brain necrosis.
Ms. Amy, 40, a charity worker, said, “Gary has had two brain tumors in the past, but both were operable and he made a good recovery.
'Another brain tumor diagnosis was the last thing we expected as we had peace of mind that he probably had too much screen time on Zoom calls.
“Some rest helped relieve the pain for a short while, but it got worse a few weeks later.
Gary began to experience blurred vision. We called the doctors again and he was sent for an MRI scan.
& # 39; Due to coronavirus restrictions, he was alone when he received the results. He was so brave.
Gary Nelson (pictured) was initially told that the pain may be due to excessive laptop use, but later discovered that he had an inoperable brain tumor
I was sitting in the parking lot and listening on the phone when the doctor brought us the news that they had found a "shadow" in his brain stem.
& # 39; We later found out that the tumor was profound. It was just devastating. & # 39;
The most well-known environmental risk factor for developing brain tumors is radiation exposure, especially when used for previous cancer treatments.
After his childhood tumor, Gary was diagnosed with another 34 year old after experiencing symptoms similar to those of a boy.
Surgery would leave two-time tumor survivor Gary paralyzed from the waist down. Another radiation therapy would cause brain necrosis, so chemotherapy would be his only option
He lost his sense of touch and struggled to do basic tasks like fastening his shoelaces or upgrading his belt.
Amy added, “Gary and I lived in the Middle East at the time Gary was working as a regional program manager for Apple.
“We were on vacation in Sardinia when his symptoms appeared. When we returned to Dubai, he made an appointment with the doctor and was sent for an MRI scan.
& # 39; We were dismayed to discover that he had a large meningioma tumor on a major ventricle in his brain.
"He was referred to the American hospital and underwent life-threatening surgery to remove the tumor within a few days."
The operation was successful, although it was revealed that there is a good chance that Gary will remain in a vegetative state or not survive.
After moving to Chester in 2015, Gary and Amy traveled with their two-year-old daughter Olive.
Amy said, “My husband isn't the one to cut things in half.
“We went to New York, Malaysia, Singapore, Nepal, Hong Kong, India and Thailand, to name a few of the places we visited.
Gary has always traveled with his work and has flown his family everywhere to take the opportunity and spend as much time together as possible
"Gary has always traveled with work and has flown me wherever he was to take the opportunity and spend as much time together as possible."
Back in England in August 2019, regular MRIs found the tumor to be growing again, and Gary started on six weeks of radiation therapy.
This was the last time it could be offered to Gary as he had reached his lifetime limit for this type of intensive care.
This means that Gary's treatment options for the brainstem glioma tumor found in April this year are now limited.
Giving Back: Amy and Gary raise awareness of the problems facing brain cancer patients and last month accompanied 16 friends from across the UK as they took the 7 miles Walk of Hope in Chester
Amy said, “Surgery would paralyze Gary from the neck down.
“We already knew that re-radiotherapy was not an option either, as it would cause brain necrosis.
“But our prayers were answered when we were given the option of chemotherapy.
Gary started taking chemo pills on August 1st. He is on a six month course of five day cycles.
“One thing I know for sure about Gary is that he is a fighter, the strongest and most determined of them all. This is a fight we will take on together.
“We fight for our beautiful, smart, six year old daughter Olive, who loves her father so much.
“We fight for our family and friends and we fight for other affected people and their relatives.
Why radiation therapy can cause tumors in patients
In very rare cases, patients treated with radiation therapy for tumors, cancer, and other diseases can develop another brain tumor.
The reason for this is that while radiation kills cancer cells, doctors say it is also a risk factor for their development.
These can develop 10 years or more after the patient was given radiation therapy and depend on a number of factors including the patient's age, radiation dose, and the area being treated.
Tumors caused by previous radiation therapy also don't respond well to treatment, and subsequent tumors may return more aggressively and grow faster.
"We are fighting for a future in which healing no longer causes tumors and damage to healthy brain cells."
The couple are working with Brain Tumor Research to raise awareness of the problems faced by brain tumor patients and their loved ones.
They were joined by 16 friends from across the UK last month as they took a 7-mile walk of hope in Chester.
Gary said: & # 39; It was an emotional but beautiful day.
“The sun was shining, our faces were smiling and our collection box was heavier for miles due to the donations we made along the way.
"We were so proud to promote and endorse the importance of brain cancer research and we are pleased to have raised £ 9,000 to date."
Matthew Price, Community Fundraising Manager for Brain Tumor Research, said, “We were so sorry to hear about Gary's diagnosis and we wish him all the best for his ongoing treatment.
& # 39; We're incredibly grateful to Gary, Amy and all of their friends for their support; not only for their fantastic fundraiser, but also for raising awareness about this terrible disease. & # 39;
Visit www.justgiving.com/team/hulkswalkofhope to make a donation to Brain Tumor Research through Gary and Amy's donation page
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