My name is Aileen Gregory and I am team captain for Team PMA (Positive Mental Attitude). I am leading this team because my husband, John Gregory passed away in June 2013. He had both brain cancer and metastatic melanoma.
Last year, John was team captain for Team PMA. We raised over $34,000 and Team PMA was recognized as one of the top fundraising teams for 2013 (8th overall).
We have 2 children, Adison (7) and Alexander (5) and our hope is to raise more money for brain tumor research. John did not die because of his brain cancer; it was his melanoma diagnosis in March 2013 that eventually took his life. What we did learn during this journey is how little in terms of treatment options there are for brain cancer. Treatment options for melanoma included gene specific therapy and immunotherapy which were not available to treat John's brain cancer. For this reason, we will continue the fight to find a cure for brain tumors.
This is John's story in his own words last year....
My journey with brain tumors starts back in 1995. I was driving with a friend to class after a late night studying for a test. While we were at a stop light, I stretched and yawned and the next thing I knew, I was being loaded into the back of an ambulance. I was told I had a seizure. After a CT scan I was told to find a neurologist and soon after an MRI my neurologist informed me of the unfortunate news. I had a brain tumor. I can only describe this dose of information as a brick in the face. Things moved very quickly (for me) after this. Within approximately 2 months I was at George Washington Hospital undergoing brain surgery which was a success. My recovery was remarkable and the pathology of the tumor showed that it was Pleomorphic Xanthosastrocytoma (AKA as PXA) and typically pediatric tumor which at the time was considered benign and no treatment was needed other than to just follow it.
I was tumor free for 14 years until a routine annual scan showed some growth. At this time I researched neurosurgeons and found Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa (Dr. Q) who decided to monitor the growth of the tumor since it had been approximately 5 years since my last scan. The tumor showed little sign of growth for 1.5 years until it became aggressive. After a scan on October 1, 2012, my legs fell out from me and I was told there had been significant changes. I was rushed to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center where I was admitted and underwent another successful resection. This time the pathology determined that it was the same type of tumor - PXA but now malignant (Grade III). This brain tumor is extremely rare and there is no known treatment plan to prevent this tumor from coming back; however, with the aggressive treatment I underwent, my doctors and family are hoping the most recent brain surgery will be my last!
Unfortunately, in March 2013, I was hospitalized for pneumonia caused by the chemo drug I was taking. They treated me for the pneumonia and once it cleared they sent me home where I continued to deteriorate. Approximately 2 weeks later I was hospitalized again where a CT scan of the chest showed metastasized tumors in my lungs and liver. I was put on a host of medications and a liver biopsy was performed. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with another cancer, Stage IV Melanoma in the liver and the lungs with no signs of the primary tumor. As you could imagine, this was devastating news! The doctors immediately started me on an oral targeted chemotherapy. I continued to deteriorate and was then discharged and sent home under hospice care. I was unable to breathe without oxygen and could not stand up on my own. They did not give me much time (days) given how quickly my body was shutting down. With PMA and lots of love and support from my family and friends, I was able to recover from my dismal condition!
The crazy thing about this story is that my brain tumor actually saved my life. My tumor tested positive for the BRAF gene mutation. Because of this gene mutation that was found in my brain tumor, they were able to treat this metastatic melanoma with a targeted gene therapy drug that has been known to shrink tumors for those diagnosed with Stage IV Melanoma. Although no studies have been done on whether this drug therapy can also be used to treat certain brain tumors, I am hoping that this treatment plan for my melanoma may also serve as treatment for my brain cancer as I have discontinued the brain cancer treatment until this greater threat is managed. Unfortunately due to this I will not be able to run this race as originally planned; however, I have been regaining strength each day and will be able to participate in the walk.
We ask you to join us to find a cure for brain tumors. If you are unable to participate in the race, you can still make a donation to support others who are battling brain tumors and honor those who have lost their fight with cancer.
We hope to see you on Sunday, May 4, 2014! Help us find a cure for brain tumors!
|Denotes a Team Captain|