Andrew's Story: Overcoming Obstacles

Andrew's Story: Overcoming Obstacles

Andrew remembers the day clearly – it was Friday, June 3, 1977 when he, at just ten years of age, and his parents received the news from his doctor. Andrew had a brain tumour. Diagnosed with a large Medulloblastoma, Andrew was treated through surgery, 6.5 weeks of radiation and over one year of chemotherapy. “I was told by my neurologist that I would have side-effects for the rest of my life, but what they would be and when they would occur was anyone’s guess.”

That first occurrence with a brain tumour would not be Andrew’s last unfortunately, as another mass was discovered in late 1989 – a non-malignant Meningioma, which was also removed through surgery.

Faced with a challenging learning disability due to his brain tumours, Andrew persevered in spite of being told getting a higher education would be impossible. He completed high school in 1985 and graduated from college in 1993 with a diploma in audio-visual communications. “I wanted to prove to everyone and myself that I could do it, that I could keep going and reach my goals.”

Having survived two tumours, and all of the treatment and surgeries that came with them, Andrew was diagnosed with epileptic-like seizures in 2001 which meant he could no longer work and had his license revoked for medical reasons. “I felt I lost my independence, like my life was over,” he recalls. Going through what he calls “dark times,” Andrew fought through his depression to see the positive in life. “This whole thing, everything, is all part of my healing process,” he says. “I like to think I now see things I might not have if I was driving by in my car. Stuff I never knew was there. You just have to adjust and keep going.”

It’s this attitude that keeps Andrew moving forward and dedicated to helping others who face similar circumstances. Andrew now works with a local brain injury association, serving as a mentor for others with neurological trauma, which he says is just as much for his mentees as it is for him. “It’s helped me to process my feelings and work through issues of my own. If I can help anyone with a brain tumour and all of the stuff that comes with it, it’s all been worth it.”

Connecting with others on the journey is what also brought Andrew to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s London support group. He attended his first meeting in February 2012 and plans to keep going so that he can lean on and learn from fellow brain tumour patients and survivors – something he recommends to anyone impacted by the disease.

And though Andrew was recently diagnosed with his third brain tumour and an additional neurological condition, he keeps a smile on his face. When asked what advice he’d offer to others with a brain tumour, Andrew shares, “I’ve learned through the years that I have to live every day to its fullest, and to go day by day. You never know what can happen next, so enjoy every minute you can.”

This story was shared in 2012.  In June 2016, Andrew provided an update in his words, you can read the update here

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