Gordo's Story: "I Won't Let it Get the Best of Me"

Gordo's Story: "I Won't Let it Get the Best of Me"

For husband and father of two teenagers Gordon “Gordo” Smith, it’s a positive attitude that’s helped him tackle his 2011 brain tumour diagnosis. And while he admits it isn’t easy to not focus on the negatives, he says it was a conscious decision to “participate in life” that has made navigating the journey with a brain tumour easier for him and his family.

Gordo was never one to be sick or take a day off to recoup in bed, but in late 2011, all that changed. Gordo began having headaches, something he chalked up to sinus issues from long-term allergies. One weekend in December, Gordo spent the day in bed in severe pain, and his wife Wendy knew that was the last straw. She insisted on bringing him to the emergency room to figure out what was happening. That same day Gordo had a CT scan that revealed a large mass growing on his brain.

From there he was taken to The Ottawa Hospital (Civic Hospital), where he had the tumour resected. “It was huge, to me at least, and on my right frontal lobe” recalls Gordo. “It was the size of an egg, and they were able to remove most of it.” After the surgery, Gordo received his diagnosis: it was glioblastoma multiforme, a Grade IV cancerous brain tumour. For some, hearing those words would be understandably devastating. For Gordo, he looked at it with optimism. “The way I saw it, at least I could have surgery. There are some folks with brain tumours who can’t.”

After the resection, Gordo began radiation treatments for the remaining tumour tissue, followed by oral chemotherapy. In July, his regular post-surgery MRIs showed potential re-growth of the tumour, so he had another operation, a “re-do” as he calls it. Just a few weeks before the second surgery, Gordo took part in the Ottawa Spring Sprint, as part of the Allstream Dream Team.

A long-time employee at Allstream, a national communications company, Gordo was part of the organization’s 70+ team made up of coworkers and loved ones, including friend and fellow staffer Laura Sullivan. Laura helmed the Allstream Dream Team; it was she who approached Gordo and his family about getting involved with the Ottawa Spring Sprint (now Brain Tumour Walk). Gordo’s Army was a part of the Allstream team, a group made up of his wife Wendy, friends, family, and community and health groups. “I participated in life BC (before cancer) and now all these people are helping me. I walked, but my army was there to support me.”

Looking back on the Sprint, Gordo says he’s happy to support an organization that strives to make headway in the fight against brain tumours and build connections with others impacted by the disease. When he was diagnosed, Gordo says the information he read on BrainTumour.ca and in the BrainStorm newsletters was helpful, giving him “honest, frank and positive, but still realistic” news and articles to read. “It felt really good to raise money for Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada and participate in the day,” Gordo adds. “You see survivors at the event, living and winning this fight. I can fret and worry, and sometimes all you need is hope – that’s what I got at the Sprint.”

Now, just weeks after his second surgery, Gordo says he’s looking forward to fundraising again in 2013. It’s his goal to see more people talking about brain tumours, and part of that is sharing his experience with others. “The more patients that talk about it, the more we fundraise for programs and research, the more people affected by brain tumours can lead a normal life – that’s where we want to get to, the new normal.”

2015 update

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Story posted: August 2012 

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