HOME     CANCER INFO     GALLERY     CONTACT     PROGRAMMING      
 
My family and I decided to put up this page in hopes that it might help others. There is quite a bit of information on the internet about brain tumors and brain cancer. The websites that were most useful to me were the pages made by other people who have gone through the surgery and treatments. I wanted this page to serve that purpose for others.

The page is layed out in basically chronological order. It is a collaboration of recollections, thoughts and experiences of myself and my family. Most of this page was done by my mother Joanne who keep detailed journals everyday through out this entire process. I have color coded the text to indicate who contributed what part. Cory's parts are printed in the standard text color. My mother Joanne's parts are printed in this blue color.


Page Navigation

Through out this page we will refer to my physicians by their last name. I will list their full names here for reference;


Preface
Beginning about January 2004 I started to have numerous health problems that got increasing worse as the months progressed. I frequently would become dizzy after standing up which usually resulted in me collaping to the floor. I wasn't really blacking out, I was aware and awake the whole time. My legs simply "forgot how to stand" and turned to rubber for a few minutes. Often times this would be followed by loss of vision for about 5 minutes or other times it resulted in a sever migrane type headache.

At first these types of occurances happened a few times a month. It then increased to at least a couple times a week. By the time June came around it was happening multiple times a day. It got bad enough that if the phone rang, I knew I wouldn't be able to make it to the other room to answer it before I ended up collapsing to the floor.

At the urging of my mother, I finally went to a doctor to see what was going on. At this point I was thinking it might have been a blood sugar issue, possibly diet related.


September 13th, 2004
It was Monday morning and I was working. I had an appointment scheduled the following day to see Dr Zink about the health problems I had been having. At about noon I got up to go the restroom and ended up collapsing as I had done many times before. This time was much more severe than any of the previous occasions before though. When I fell down I hit my head on the door, this time I couldn't get up for about 5 minutes. Once I was able to get myself back to my desk a severe headache immediately followed.

I felt a bit more concerned, and didn't feel like I could finish my day at work. I asked my boss about taking a week of vacation time. He inquired as to when I wanted to take it, I said "right now if possible". I am sure he could tell something wasn't right, and he didn't hesitate letting me leave right then.

Mothers intuition told me that something was seriously wrong and I had scheduled the aboved mentioned Dr Zink appointment weeks before hand. Cory was unaware of it until the week before, but was reluctant to take care of it himself. After months of complaining about health issues, I decided to take matters into my own hands.


September 14th, 2004
Today was my visit to Dr Zink. She had been aware of the health problems I have been having and I think this was my third visit back. At this point in time we were still exploring other possibilities as to what the problem was. She had done a neurological test with me which didn't show any signs of trouble. I had told her about my fall the previous day and she examined my head for injury. While there wasn't any visible evidence of injury she decided to order a CT scan just to make sure I didn't damage anything. She wanted me to get the scan right away so we headed over to Oregon Imaging.

By the way, if you are reading this Dr Zink, I wanted to say thank you for taking a chance on the CT Scan. Without it I probably still wouldn't have known what the problem was. I am sorry I didn't get a chance to thank you in person.

This is where things started to get strange. I went in for the CT Scan, it only took about 20 minutes. I was told that they would send the results to Dr Zink right away. I assumed I would hear back from her later that day, but I did not.

We waited for over an hour and a half to get the results and a call from Dr Zink. We went to lunch and about an hour later Dr Zink called our cell phone. Dr Zink wanted Cory to have an MRI tomorrow, doesn't sound like good news. Cory did not feel well all day, but the lunch helped a bit.

I unfortunately had to return home to the coast. His Grandmother and brother volunteered to take him to the appointment the next day.


September 15th, 2004
My MRI was about what I expected. I didn't enjoy it very much, but it wasn't too bad. Again I waited to hear back from the Dr Zink regarding the result of both this MRI and the previous CT scan.

Cory said to me he was a bit nervous about the MRI being closed in. He was offered a seditive, but he turned it down for fear he would throw it up. He didn't enjoy the MRI and being squeezed in so tight.


September 16th, 2004
I was expecting to hear back with the results today but instead was suprised to get a call from Dr Kokkino's office requesting that I come see him right away. They didn't have any information for me at this point, and this was the first time I had heard of Dr Kokkino.

At this point I am fairly confused as to why nobody could tell me the results of any my tests, and starting to get a bit concerned. All that was going through my mind was "what is it that a neurosurgeon has to tell me that my regular doctor can't".

I didn't know what he had to tell me but I was sure it wasn't good news. He put up the MRI films and before he even said anything I could see the problem plain as day. You didn't need to be a brain surgeon to see that whatever that was, it didn't belong in my head.

I wish I had a photo of the MRI film, this tumor was huge. I was later told that due to it's size I must have had it for 20 years or more, possibly even born with it. Dr Kokkino believed that this was probably a grade 1 or grade 2 tumor. While it was large, it didn't appear to be one of the more dangerous grade 3 or 4 tumors which were malignant. It has just this year grown large enough to start applying pressure to other parts of my brain. He told me that he already had the surgery room scheduled for the following Monday at 5am for a Craniotomy. Dr Kokkino told us that operating could pose a 15% chance of losing the ability control his legs, and there of course were other concerns as well.

Now I knew why nobody was telling me anything up till now.

The rest of my day was spent over at Sacred Heart Medical Center preregistering for surgery and meeting with the anesthesiologists to plan for the surgery.

Cory called me directly after his meeting with Dr Kokkino. He told me to sit down, it is not good news. He said he has a tumor the size of a tennis ball or baseball in the right front part of his head. This explains all the symptoms that had occured the past 8 months. He explained that it was not the kind of tumor that was branching out into the brain, but more of a self contained unit. We were explained that tumor originated in a very dangerous spot by an area that controls his motor skills. He explained upfront that Dr Kokkino would not be removing all of the tumor, and would only operate in areas that were not particularly dangerous.


September 17th, 2004
I got another call to come down to Oregon Imaging for yet another MRI! This was one CT scan, and two MRIs in the course of 3 days. This time the MRI was a bit different. They shaved patches into my hair and glued about 10 of these little discs (about the size of a dime) and performed another MRI. From what I could understand the discs would show up on the MRI image and could be used to more precisely locate areas in my head during the surgery. Sort of like GPS for my head. I was instructed to make sure none of the discs came off my head before the surgery. In other words, don't wash my hair.

I headed back into Eugene this morning. I tried to call Cory on both his cell and phone and his house phone, but no answer. I assumed he was probably at Oregon Imaging at Sacred Heart to so I headed right there. I found his Grandmother Janice in the waiting room, Cory was meeting with the anesthesiologist at time and came out shortly after. He had 10 little circles glued to his head, and told me "that is how I communicate with the mothership". Funny, he has such a good attitude. Cory wanted to go to Chilis for lunch, he likes the boneless buffalo wings.

I went back to my work to have a meeting with my boss. I was told by Dr Kokkino that I should plan for a full month of recovery. I was glad to find out that taking the time off wouldn't be a big problem.


September 19th, 2004
The night before the surgery... It wasn't as bad as one might think. I wasn't really that concerned about it. I had full confidence in Dr Kokkino and he didn't give me any reason to think anything would go wrong. What was more on my mind (literally) was my greasy hair that I hadn't been able to wash since Friday when they glued those discs on me. It occured to me that I wouldn't get a chance to wash it until the following Thursday after the surgery. I decided that wasn't going to be acceptible to me. I called my brother Eric to come over with the clippers and we shaved it all off. Ahh, much better.

We had a big family breakfast. Both Grandmothers were there as well as Cory's brother Eric and father Richard. I wasn't sure about cutting all his hair off, but it ended up being the right decision. My sons look quite a bit alike with the same haircut now.

I went to bed at 10pm, but I couldn't sleep. Cory's surgery is hours away, but I don't want to fall asleep so morning won't come. Life could change tomorrow, maybe for the best I pray. I can't allow myself to think otherwise.


September 20th, 2004 - Surgery Day
Surgery day, 5:00am. We were all assembled and down at Sacred Heart Medical Center on time. If memory serves me correctly my mother and father, brother, and both grandmothers were there. Sacred Heart had nice facilities, my family was able to have a private waiting room. Surgery was expected to take about 5 to 6 hours.

I of course switched from clothes into a gown. I was told to put on these ultra tight stockings (and they were tight!) that covered my entire legs. The purpose of these stockings was so I could use a machine that massaged my legs with water tubes. I was told to wear it the entire time I was there to prevent blood clots. It was actually sort of nice to get a 96 hour massage of my legs.

I met with the anesthesiologist who setup my IV, I was then wheeled into the surgery room. It was impressive, lots of gadgets and to my surprise there were lots of people waiting to working on me that day, at least six people around the table that I could remember. That was a comforting thought that so many people were keeping an eye on me during the surgery. Next thing I know I am out like a light.

I think they were a bit suprised to see that I cut off all my hair, they didn't ask me to. It seemed to me it would better for them if it wasn't there, and it turns out I was right. My first memory after the surgery was waking up in what I think was the operating room. I felt completely fine, in fact I was sure the surgery hadn't even started yet. I had no pain from any of it, perhaps it was the morphine I was given, but I personally think it was just because they did such an excellent job on me. I was taken directly to ICU which was to be my home for the next two days. At this point I got to see my family, but I was fairly out of it from the pain killers so I will let my mom take over the story from here...

I set my alarm for 4:15, the parking gate wouldn't open at Sacred Heart but we made it on time anyways. They took Cory right in and the family could go along (2 grandmothers, 1 mother, 1 father, 1 brother). Cory is still handling all this extremely well. They gave him a Valium, it took effect in about 4 minutes. Eric took the two grandmothers down to the first floor surgery waiting room. Cory, his dad, and I went to the prep and recovery.

Alicia was the first contact, getting his support hose on to prevent clotting. Next Lori the recovery room nurse came and had great bedside manner and talked about signs, miracles, and made me feel very positive about how we found this out. Next came Tom the operating room nurse and gurney driver. After Tom came Dana the other surgeon came in street clothes. Time kiss Cory goodbye and he went to the operating room.

We went to the intensive care waiting room on the 5th floor where the others joined us. A nice room, private room, which we need. Dr Kokkino came to talk to us and this was the first time we got to meet him.

Dr Kokkino told us "Cory has a massive tumor, and they won't be able to get it all". "They might have to take some of the brain, and they won't know until they get in there". It was very scary for me. Dr Kokkino made direct eye contact drilling into me the seriousness of this surgery. "Cory will have some lethargic behavior and apathy". I asked if if was tempory, he said "no, permenant". He shook my hand and said he is confident and left to do the surgery.

7:45am, still waiting. Eric went went for breakfast. I did a puzzle and quickly found that not all the peices were there.

11:15am, the doctor returned. He said "it went as well as he expected". The incision is ear to ear over the top of Cory's head. The tumor was deep behind the right ear and right eye and two veins entwined it. We won't who how well it went until he comes out of it. The actual tumor was a jelly like mass and by removing it and part of the brain it has left a fairly big void. The void won't fill in with anything but fluid. We won't know if it is cancer until tomorrow. He mentioned that the tumor was much larger than it appeared on the MRI.

In addition to the lethargic behavior and apathy mentioned before the surgery he also said that there may be seizures, blood clots, and memory loss. In the event of a blood clot they may need to go back in and disolve it.

He addressed me and told me "don't feel guity and wonder what caused it, because it could have been anything". It dumb luck that we found out about it at all. Lori told me "she knows it is going to be alright", and I believe her.

The doctor told us it would be about an hour and a half for Cory to come out of it and we could see him then. We waited two hours, we finally asked how he was doing and the let us back to visit, but only two at a time. I begged my family to tell me positive things because I knew Cory would see my fear.

2:00pm, we a brief visit with Cory in ICU. The rest of the family went home and I stayed at the hospital. Cory seems okay, bad headache, and a very soar throat. He only gets a tiny bit of crushed ice. I sensed a slight difference in him, but I know it is the drugs and experience. He will improve. He seemed like not happy kid Cory, but more of a angry man/solemn, I hope it is the drugs. His head is bundled up in a tight white bandage, and a washcloth over his eyes in a dimly lit recovery room. I was able to mask my fear and worry since he couldn't see me and it was easier to act positive. I don't want to leave him, I want to be close by today and tonight. Remember Joanne, nothing else matters. Crisis creates character.


September 21st & 22nd ICU was the same hourly routine for me. Every hour I had my blood pressure checked, and was administered more morphine if I requested it. This routine went on every hour 24 hours a day. I didn't get a whole lot of sleep, but after a while I learned to barely wake up while they checked my blood pressure and ended up falling back asleep fairly quickly.

I cannot recall the name of the nurse who was assigned to me in ICU, but she was really good. Friendly, and fast. That is the nice thing about ICU is someone is right there all the time if you need anything at all. I was able to get visits from family while in ICU, but I do not remember most of my time while I was there. My family will have to fill in the blanks.


September 23rd The plan was that I was to be transfered to a private hospital room upstairs on the 23rd. As I recall it took quite a while for a room to open up. I didn't get up there until late in the day I think. It was a nice room with a private restroom. Good view, and lots of room for vistors and the flowers I received.

My hourly visits from a nurse changed to 3 times a day once I was out of ICU. Even still I don't think I got more than a couple hours sleep for the next couple days.

Late that night I managed to develope a sharp pain in my lower back and legs. It felt like I pulled every muscle I had from the waste down. I am not sure how I did it, I am assuming I must have got out of bed wrong or something. As first the nurses were concerned that it could possibly be a blood clot, but that turned out to not be the case. I hurt quite a bit to lay down so I tried walking around my room most of the night. I couldn't sleep anyways and there was nothing else to do.

Dr Kokkino stopped by to check on my bandaging and to see if I was having any trouble as a result of the surgery. He seemed pleased with my prgress and indicated that he thought I could likely leave the hospital early the next day. He removed my head bandaging and it was the first time I got to see the scar from the incision during the surgery, the staples were still in at this point. Take a look...