Deanna's Story of Strength

Deanna's Story of Strength

 “He said ‘I am going to live life to the fullest.’ Because he was like that, we were like that.”

Good natured, easy going, but most importantly, profoundly positive and uplifting. Howard Fink was all of these things and more. Growing up in a small town in Saskatchewan, Howard eventually moved to Calgary where he settled and raised a family. Neither he nor his loved ones ever expected a brain tumour would one day turn their lives upside down.

In 2005, while at work, Howard experienced a violent and frightening seizure. MRI and CT scans quickly followed. Soon, Howard and his family were told there was a large tumour behind his left eye that had likely been growing for many years.

“He was really optimistic, but the rest of us were pretty scared,” Howard’s daughter, Deanna, recalls about first hearing the diagnosis.

Following surgery, Howard spent the next six years trying different treatments to prevent the growth of his low-grade astrocytoma. Fortunately there were few complications or side effects. Then to the surprise of his family and his health care team, in February 2011 Howard started having seizures once again.

This time the news was different. Howard now had an aggressive brain tumour, a glioblastoma multiforme. That summer he had his second surgery, after which he started chemotherapy that continued until the following spring. Unfortunately, after an MRI in March 2012, Howard and his family were informed that the tumour had returned and once again prepared for another surgery.

All through the brain tumour journey, Howard maintained his positivity and grace. It was a marvel for the family to be part of and Howard’s poise was something that helped them help him. “Instead of saying ‘Why me, why me?’ he said ‘Okay, this is what life dealt me and I’m just going to live life to the fullest. Because he was like that, we were like that,” explains Deanna.

One piece of advice Deanna would give to anyone else diagnosed with a brain tumour is to never give up and to always hope and keep fighting for a cure. “You never know if there’s another option,” she says. “Never give up.”

The summer after his third surgery, Howard didn’t improve the way he had after his previous operations. He began experiencing other symptoms from the tumour. “They did the surgery and while he didn’t recover that fast, he was still optimistic that everything would be okay,” Deanna remembers. This optimism gave both Howard and his family strength. Sadly, Howard passed away in October of 2012.

Now, one year later, Deanna is sharing her father’s story in the hopes that other families will find comfort from the awareness that they are not alone.

 Thank you Deanna for sharing your story.

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Story posted: October 2013. Since then, Brain Tumour Awareness Month has moved to May.

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