Ben's Story: Survivor Laces Up to Honour All Canadians with a Brain Tumour

Ben's Story: Survivor Laces Up to Honour All Canadians with a Brain Tumour

For survivor Ben Seewald, it’s been over 15 years since he heard the startling words, “you have a brain tumour.” And since that day, it’s been a priority for him to not let that diagnosis direct his outlook on life.

Ben was 18 when he was diagnosed with a central neurocytoma. It was the summer between his Grade 12 and OAC high school years when the tumour was discovered. “It started with double vision, but I just blamed it on my new contacts,” Ben recalls. The vision trouble Ben was having led to a CT scan, which showed a large mass on the lateral left ventricle of his brain. In retrospect, Ben remembers having intense headaches and personality changes – symptoms he simply chalked up to the stress of high school.

A track and football captain at the time, the surgery to remove the tumour was life-changing for Ben. The operation involved cutting through his brain’s grey matter, the impact of which affected Ben’s mobility and speech. “How many adults can say they’ve had to learn how to walk and talk again?” he adds, jokingly. Ben’s humour is a key indicator of how he’s managed the after-effects of the brain tumour. Throughout his recovery, a smile could usually be found on his face.

Almost two decades later, Ben has devoted much of his time to raising awareness about brain tumours.
As he explains, “The more we as survivors or patients talk about brain tumours, and the more others talk about them, the more visible the brain tumour community will be.”

This spring, Ben is lacing up his running shoes and taking off cross-country to honour all Canadians facing the battle with a brain tumour. Having re-learned how to walk and talk, Ben has maintained his love of running and will take part in 10 of the 20 Spring Sprints (now Brain Tumour Walk) happening between April and June. For him, it’s the ultimate expression of his personal belief that having a brain tumour “doesn’t mean you have to lose the things you enjoy.”

By signing up for the ten events, Ben is also taking part in the most Spring Sprints he’s ever joined, which is no small feat. “Attending events has always helped me honour those who have or will struggle with a brain tumour diagnosis. The hope you feel in each city is incomparable.”

Starting with the April 20th kick-off in London, ON, Ben will make his way across Canada, ending with the Belleville Spring Sprint on June 9th. Looking ahead to his springtime trek, Ben is excited at the prospect of meeting others who are on the journey with a brain tumour.

“I love Canada, and no matter how far apart cities and towns are, there is a sense of unity here. That’s even more apparent to me in the brain tumour communities across the country.”

Find your local Spring Sprint event - or make a donation
to a city closest to you and support the efforts of people like Ben to transform the future for brain tumour patients and survivors.

Story posted: March 2013

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