During the fall of 1995, I had just turned 40 and was at the top of my legal
profession. But I suddenly found myself getting totally exhausted each weekend.
I was of no use to my wife, Ellie, or my kids.
One morning while using the treadmill, I saw stars. I drove myself to the
emergency room; the doctors there thought I was having a heart attack. But tests showed
no heart problems, so I went back to work -- I had to because I own my
business. My internist sent me to a cardiologist and other specialists to see
if I had an upper respiratory illness or an inner ear problem. No one found
Astrocytoma is a type of brain cancer that usually starts in the cerebrum, the largest part of your brain, but can also show up in the cerebellum (the back of the brain). It’s more common in men than women and most often shows up after age 45. There are several types of astrocytoma, and some grow faster than others.
They get their name from astrocytes, the star-shaped cells where they form in the brain. About 50% of primary brain tumors are astrocytomas.
Read on to learn more about symptoms,...
Then I saw a neurologist, who ordered an MRI. The next day, his office
called and asked me to come in immediately. I told the nurse that I was in a
meeting and that I'd "come in as soon as I'm done." My doctor got on the phone.
"Gary, you need to come in right now."
I called Ellie and said, "I don't know what's going on, but I don't think
it's good." It wasn't -- I had a malignant tumor located deep in my brain. The
first surgeon I saw wanted to operate the next business day, thought I had
three years to live, and couldn't guarantee any quality of life. We said
good-bye to him, started doing our research, and found physicians we were
comfortable with. It turns out that the tumor was in the lower left lobe, at
the site that controls my speech and right hand. Do you know any lawyers who
During the surgery, I was wide awake and speaking throughout my operation,
and when I started to lose my speech, the neurosurgeon stopped. After
recovering, I came home but I couldn't communicate. I would mean to say "yes"
and it would come out "no." It was difficult for my 10- and 13-year-old to
understand what had happened to their dad. After more than two years of
extensive speech therapy, I did regain my speech. I'm one of the lucky ones. I
can talk again.