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The Hats Tribute is a collection of personal stories by those affected by a brain tumour

Evjen, Gary

Evjen, Gary

Evjen, Gary

Gary is a 58-year old man who lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He was diagnosed with an anaplastic mixed oligoastrocytoma grade 3 tumour in April 2006. The tumour was located at the left front of the brain and situated very near the optic chiasm. Diagnosis was followed immediately by surgery. (It was a 7 x 5 x 8 cm whopper and may have been slowly growing there for as much as ten or 15 years!) Surgery was followed by 30 radiation treatments that were completed by mid-September.

Throughout the entire time leading up to diagnosis, Gary cooked all the meals, bought all the groceries, paid all the bills, maintained all the vehicles and looked after the house and yard! He just had to do everything in stages - resting or sleeping in between while his wife zoomed here and zoomed there, working full time and volunteering full time. No one could possibly have guessed what was causing Gary's steady decline. After all, Gary only had CFS! And, by now, he was only teaching 0.25 time.

August/September 2005 was the turning point in diagnosis. Gary's new GP moved swiftly, referring him to a neurologist who ordered the CT scan that led to the diagnosis. To say that Gary was happy to finally have an explanation for what he had been experiencing for years would be an understatement! Now something could be done and there was every possibility he would get his life back.

It has been 4 years since surgery and radiation and Gary is back teaching and playing. He plays drums in a Klezmer band and in a jazz quintet. He officially retired from teaching June 2009 and now enjoys subbing for all his band director friends in the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools. He is now on a once-a-year MRI schedule and, so far, there is no sign of recurrence. For that, Gary, his wife Karen and everyone who knows and loves Gary are truly thankful.

Gary and Karen joined their local Brain Tumour Support Group in May 2007 and have recently become the group convenors. They have participated in 4 Spring Sprints and have been attending the Calgary Information Day since 2007. Gary and Karen are busy working on their house and yard as well as travelling as often as possible. They took a 2-week cruise to Alaska in August 2009. This past May and June, they travelled in Europe, visiting England, France, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and Austria. And they're already busy planning their next trip - maybe to Scandinavia and Russia. Or maybe a trip on the Orient Express. Life is good. Every day is a gift.



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