GLIOBASTOMA GRADE 4
Probably the most heart-warming part of Mark’s story is his dog, Tucker…
Starting back in 2017, Tucker began following Mark around (more than normal) and sticking his nose in Mark’s left ear. It became a running joke in the family: oh what a silly dog and what a strange thing to do.
Mark was originally diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, anaplastic astrocytoma, grade 3. It seems that Tucker knew all along that something was wrong. He became very protective of Mark and stuck by his side through surgery then multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. The next step in their journey, they took together.
Tucker himself was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in May 2018 and underwent surgery to remove his tumor on July 3, 2018. During this time, Mark and his family learned that his cancer wasn’t what it was originally thought to be. They learned Mark had a grade 4 glioblastoma. More treatment continued and Mark and Tucker only grew closer.
As complications of Mark’s brain cancer progressed, it appeared he had suffered from a stroke. Mark’s father helped build a ramp at their home as Mark became confined to a wheelchair and stairs were no longer an option. Home health care has been required, as well. Eventually Mark learned he had not suffered a stroke but had experienced mild disease progression with a new tumor near the original tumor site. Additionally, they learned Mark has a rare gene that releases a type of protein that prevents treatments from being effective. In spite of these developments, Mark and his wife, Rose, have remained incredibly positive.
Rose has been Mark’s rock and caregiver during this incredibly difficult past year. She works tirelessly to get him to all of his appointments, driving him to multiple states for consults and tests.
Please help us support the Redford’s (including Tucker!) in their battle against gliobastoma!
Mark was nominated by Wendy Linhart
METASTATIC BREAST CANCER
You won’t even believe the strength this mom of four has!
Tia’s journey with cancer began in November 2014 with an initial diagnosis of stage 1 breast cancer. She underwent what seemed like a simple lumpectomy but then required a double mastectomy. With a family history of breast cancer and a positive test result for the BRCA gene, Tia knew she was making the right choice for her health. What followed next was not at all simple: NINE failed breast surgeries as her body continually rejected the implants. Tia’s youngest of four children was born a year prior her diagnosis, which meant she already had her hands full. She started chemotherapy and radiation and finished treatment in 2015.
Tia had grown up in Knoxville but moved away to Birmingham as a young adult. After everything she had gone through with her cancer, the West family made the decision to move back to Knoxville in 2016 to be closer to their supportive family and friends. However, in October 2017, they found that Tia’s cancer had spread to her hip. Radiation and chemotherapy began again. Tia’s parents even moved back to Knoxville from Florida to help. Her treatments ended in March 2018 and everyone was relieved.
However, in April, Tia seemed to develop a hernia. What followed has been an endless ordeal with gastroparesis, a medical condition in which the stomach is partially paralyzed. Tia has endured multiple lengthy and painful hospital stays and bouts of c. difficile, a bacterial infection that can be deadly. This left Tia requiring a nasopharyngeal tube for feeding for many months and made it very difficult for her to continue taking oral chemotherapy pills. Today, Tia is still left with a J (jejunostomy) tube and PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastronomy) tube to ensure her body gets the nutrients it needs.
Always the fighter, Tia credits her husband as her hero. They’ve been married 11 years and together 14 and have made a pact to always fight together as a team. And they have fought tremendously for their family as their youngest son is also currently battling a disabling lung disease. Tia leans on the strength of her family and is looking to the future with a positive view in beating metastatic breast cancer.
Please join the fight against cancer with Tia and her family by #kickincancer
Tia was nominated by Rebecca Gore