It was another otherwise normal drive home from a hockey rink with my 15 year old son, back in late April of 2008. Nothing out of the ordinary... cold rink, warm car, long ride home. Suddenly, I felt queasiness in my stomach and a slight headache...probably shouldn't have eaten the McDonalds at that last rest stop. Forty five minutes later, we're home at last. It's off to bed, hoping that I would be fine in the morning, but I wasn't. After a few days of pain, I was off to see Dr. Krebsbach's , my Ear, Nose, and Throat physician, where his diagnosis was migraines. After repeated visits, Dr. Krebsbach assured me that I would have to live with migraines. He suggested an MRI to rule out anything serious. I'll never forget his words...Don't worry, there's nothing to be concerned about, like a brain tumor!
The next day, it was off to my MRI, an experience I would never forget, claustrophobia and anger all wrapped into one. Forty eight hours later, Dr. Krebsbach called the house. He stated that the MRI report had something that necessitated a consultation with a Neurosurgeon. What? Why? It seemed like I couldn't stop asking questions. At the Neurosurgeon's office, (he shall remain nameless) I was escorted to a room where a P.A. informed me, quite tactlessly, that I had a brain tumor. I felt the room spin. I asked her to repeat what she just said. Same words...brain tumor. The MRI report read: Large aggressive tumor on the right side of brain, consistent with a Glioblastoma Multiforme. God, how could this be happening...my wife and 3 children...how would they survive without me. After telling my wife of the news and crying in each others' arms, I knew what my next move was. I had a very short time to put my affairs in order, and prepare my wife for a life without me. My next course of action was to call my attorney and tell him of my demise. He was distraught. "Take this number down. Call a former client of mine...Tracy Fanning. She is part of a brain tumor alliance group, and has more knowledge about this than anyone else. I now know what human compassion was all about. The Brain Tumor Alliance Group arranged for me to have a consultation with Dr. Piepmeier at Yale University the very next day. I only realized how much of an impact that gesture was a month later.
The next day, my wife and I set off to meet with Dr. Piepmeier and Betsey. What a sweet lady, she put us at ease the first day we met. A few minutes after giving Betsey our information, Dr. Piepmeier walked in. Every time I say this I get goose bumps. When I saw him the first time, he had an aura around him, like a bright light. As crazy as it sounds, the minute we left the office, I turned to my wife and said, "I feel better". That wasn't just a line to put her at ease, I really felt it. Three days later, I was in the operating room. I woke to Dr. Piepmeier's smile and assurance that everything went well and that he believed that he removed 100% of the tumor. He wanted to wait for the biopsy report to make any further evaluations. We went home and prayed. The next day, the phone rang, and it was Dr. Piepmeier. "Hi Dr., how's everything going?" " Charles, do me a favor...go out and get a bottle of champagne. What you had was not a Glioblastoma. It was a benign meningioma. It didn't come from anywhere else in the body nor does it look like it spread. You my friend are what every Neurosurgeon hopes for with every operation. You won't need any further treatment Congratulations... enjoy the rest of your life". Within two weeks, I went from nearly dead to re-born. I would have never received the medical care I did if not for the Ct. Brain Tumor Alliance and especially Tracy Fanning and Susan Lemkuil...my angels...Charlie's Angels!!!
- Submitted by Charles Izmirlian