Gab's Story: "I feel really lucky to be here"

Gab's Story: "I feel really lucky to be here"
Gab Rodrigues, 23, says his life changed when at the young age of 7, he first realized his own vulnerability. As a young boy, Gab experienced double vision, night terrors, severe headaches and vomiting – symptoms that took he and his mother doctor to doctor, trying to find a cause for Gab’s debilitating health changes. 
It was shortly before his 8th birthday in September 2000, that Gab and his mother would finally find some answers at an optometrist appointment. “The doctor saw pressure in my eye and immediately referred me to a CT scan,” Gab recalls. The results of which showed the pressure in Gab’s eye was being caused by a massive tumour and it was blocking spinal fluid around his brain. 
With larger facilities in Toronto, Gab was moved to SickKids Hospital and within a day, was being operated on. For almost 10 hours, the then 8-year-old Gab underwent brain surgeries to remove the tumour and insert a permanent shunt to ensure his spinal fluid could flow properly. At the time it was the longest surgery his health team had ever recorded for Gab’s tumour type, a teratoma
For the following three weeks, Gab and his parents had to stay in Toronto, as Gab started rehabilitation for the effects of the surgery and tumour. An unexpected seizure right before his scheduled discharge delayed Gab’s return to Sudbury, but in November he was finally allowed home – two months after he and his family had first learned of his brain tumour. It was a tumultuous time for the Rodrigueses, and Gab remembers the struggles his sister faced having to stay in Sudbury with relatives while he and his parents were in Toronto. “My family, whether with me in person or in my heart, were always by my side. For that I’m forever grateful.”  
Gab RodriguesOver the next five years, Gab and his parents had to make regular trips back and forth to Toronto for check-ups and MRI scans, but aside from that, Gab says he’s been fortunate to not have too many other challenges because of the tumour or potential side effects. “Still, it was really hard going through something that traumatic at a young age. I understood my own mortality when I was 7!” he explains. And that’s why, now, Gab takes part in the annual Sudbury Brain Tumour Walk, a fundraiser benefitting Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. “I’m a huge advocate for staying positive and fighting with everything you’ve got. I feel really lucky to be here, and if there’s any way I can give back, I want to.” 
The 2016 Sudbury Brain Tumour Walk takes place on Saturday, June 4th at Bell Park. Opening Ceremonies and Brain Tumour Survivor Recognition begin at 9:45am. Online registration is encouraged; there is no entry fee to participate. Brain Tumour Walks are family-friendly and non-competitive, and feature 2.5km and 5km routes for all abilities.
Gab, we are looking forward to seeing you at the Brain Tumour Walk! Thank you!

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