Brain Cancer Survivor

Photo of Mortimer – Brain Cancer Survivor

I'm Mortimer and am happy to say that I'm 89 years old. I have been married to Edith since 1949 and we have a wonderful life together. We have four children, four grandchildren and one great-grandson. Everything was going well until a couple of years ago when I was diagnosed with a glioblastoma, the deadliest form of brain cancer.

My symptoms started when we were driving back from Cape Cod where we spend every summer. We're originally from New England and moved to the Northwest in 2007 to be closer to family. When Edith and I were driving back to Issaquah in 2014, I noticed that I was having some numbness in my hand. It would go away and then I had numbness on the right side of my face that would come and go. I had no idea what was going on but we made it home fine.

Then one day, after I parked the car in the garage, I reached to turn the key off and couldn't do it. I just couldn't turn the key. I had to sit there for a few minutes before I was able to turn the engine off. I went right to the Virginia Mason medical center in Issaquah where I am a regular patient. They scheduled an MRI of my brain.

“There were no hoops. The surgeon I met with said he had a cancellation the next day if I was ready.”

When the results came in, the doctor called and said we needed to talk. I went in and he showed me that the MRI had found a tumor. That was the bad thing. The good thing was that the Virginia Mason neuro-oncologist I needed to see in Seattle had just returned from the East Coast and could see me.

From our very first meeting, I felt comfortable with her. I'm a retired lawyer and I pay attention. I could tell she knew what she was talking about as she laid it all out for me. Even though I hadn't had a biopsy yet, she was pretty sure that my tumor was cancerous. But she assured me that the Virginia Mason team who would be taking care of me was excellent.

My son is a heart surgeon, and I know they could have made me jump through all kinds of hoops before they operated on an 87-year-old man. There were no hoops. The surgeon I met with said he had a cancellation the next day if I was ready.

The surgery went well and I started on chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I knew the drill because I had prostate cancer 25 years ago. From that experience, I knew how important it is to be treated by good people. I can tell you the people who treated me at Virginia Mason were the best.

Today, I'm doing well. Edith and I will be going back to Cape Cod soon. This time we'll fly. I am enjoying every single day with my family and friends. I think it's really important to not worry about what might be and to just enjoy what is. And that's what I do!