Ron's Story of Perseverance

Ron's Story of Perseverance

Most people look forward to anniversaries. Ron Tiessen’s anniversary is a little different to most. In August 2016 he will mark 30 years as a brain tumour survivor! In that time, Ron has had 6 brain tumours, 7 liver tumours and is being watched for further tumour growth. After 29 and a half years, Ron is still celebrating life through music as he was when this all began.

In the summer of 1986, Ron was studying music and working on his uncle’s farm. One August day, his life took a sudden turn. “After coming home for lunch one day, I had a grand mal seizure,” he explains. “The next thing I know I am waking up at the entrance of Leamington Hospital’s ER in the back seat of my car, groggy and wondering where I am and how I got here.” 
Ron was diagnosed with meningioma and then hemangiopericytoma, a rare type of brain tumour, and went to surgery shortly after the diagnosis. Although the surgery was successful, there were complications to come. Ron was partially paralyzed from the operation jeopardizing his ability to play guitar, and in the days following the surgery, a sudden blood clot threatened his life. These, along with other obstacles, made Ron’s recovery slow and difficult. Intensive physiotherapy and Ron’s determination to play music once again helped return function to this formerly paralyzed hand. 
Ron began music studies in January 1987 and achieving a Bachelor of Musical Arts. In 1989 and 1991 while he was in school, Ron underwent his second and third brain tumour surgeries; they were all removed with no complications. Ron continued his studies in school to finalize his Bachelors of Education in 1995.
In 1997 Ron had more surgery. This time, it was not all taken out. There were further complications that resulted in an infection. Ron underwent six weeks of radiation, five days a week. 
Throughout all this time, Ron kept teaching guitar lessons and in a private school. This was made easier when his seizures stopped in 2003.  It wasn’t the end of his health issues though. In 2008 Ron suffered two more blood clots in his legs. The blood clots were caused by a 6lb liver tumour which was removed in September of that year. 
In 2010 Ron was diagnosed with a plum sized hemangiopericytoma liver tumour which was also removed. In 2011, in order to remove a small hemangiopericytoma in the brain, Ron underwent Gamma Knife in Toronto. Ron found it amazing to be out of hospital in less than a day. He said: “There’s only so much radiation that most people can handle. It works for me.” 
For Ron 2012 was a good year with no surgery or radiation. Ron called is his “year off!” but it was not to last. In 2013 he was diagnosed with five small liver tumours. A year later he had chemotherapy embolization, and five more rounds of radiation treatments. In 2014, MRI scans would show that Ron was positive for a brain tumour for the sixth time. 
While Ron’s health suffered he kept up with his passion for music. Ron is self-employed and runs his own business, ‘Ron’s School of Music & Tutoring.’ He sings in the Windsor Symphony Chorus which he loves. His only complaint is that it’s the same night as the Windsor Brain Tumour Support Group, which means that he cannot attend the support group as often has he would like. He also swims five times a week, and participates in the Brain Tumour Walks Events. In 2015 Ron’s team, Tiessen Tumour Raiders raised $10,000! 
Having his family, friends and faith look after him has helped him tremendously in his recovery. Also it doesn’t hurt to have cute nurses to help you either! 
Ron hopes there will be better treatments and a cure, and not just for himself. Ron’s brother has a brain tumour, and too many members of Ron’s family have already passed from brain tumours; including three cousins who had glioblastoma multiforme, his aunt passed of a brain tumour and a cousin’s daughter had a diagnosis of an astrocytoma. Ron’s already had a doctor say to him: “I was giving you six months, you proved me wrong”.  Let’s hope for a day when all brain tumour patients can hear the same.
Thank you Ron for sharing you story. 

Update, October 2016: We are deeply saddened to share that Ron Tiessen has passed away. 

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Story originally posted March 2016 

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