My Brother Andrea and His Glioblastoma
Below is the full text of Sabina which tells the story of her brother Andrea and his glioblastoma.
We are at the end of November 2016 and my brother is taken to the emergency department: he does not feel well, he draws his words and does not seem lucid … until then no episode worthy of note.
After a couple of hours, the result of the CT scan arrives: brain tumor. We are stunned by the news and we do not realize what awaits us … the doctor reassures us, it seems that the mass is in an operable area. We have to wait for the results of further tests and talk to the neurologist to get a more accurate.
That same evening Andrea is hospitalized in neurology and has an epileptic attack but we still do not realize the severity: for us everything will be resolved with an operation. I start typing the word brain tumor on google and I come across many web pages but I never find that ugly word that defines the monster that will take him away from us: GLIOBLASTOMA MULTIFORME GRADE IV. A word that seems difficult for a neophyte but that you will never forget.
My brother is in the hospital for the exams, he seems ok, he talks, eats, laughs, jokes and, not to worry him we tell him that they have found a small cerebral hemorrhage and that he is under observation. After 5 days, neurology calls us for the final result. I will always remember that day and still cry when I think about it … mom and Lara my brother’s wife in the room with the doctor and my father and I in the waiting room … endless minutes, lost looks, silent tears and finally mom who comes out crying … unfortunate outcome 2 months of life for Andrea, the tumor is inoperable and extensive and is in a point too risky to be removed, the doctor explains in simple words that this monster tends to recurr and the operation could reduce Andrea paraplegic or even worse.
Andrea father of three children Gianmarco, Leonardo and Pietro, Andrea full of enthusiasm for life, Andrea whose nicknamed for all of us the handyman because he knews everything like an encyclopedia … the word will be the first thing that Andrea will loose due to the monster, an unwanted guest who showed up without warning and without knocking … suddenly.
After 15 days the situation worsened, Andrea began to change, physical and mental problems, the use of speech and understanding became difficult, she started to assume cortisone, chemo and radio therapies and her face is become like a ball … he who was so beautiful.
He returns home and becomes violent, he doesn’t want to see his children, he gets angry easily, he suffers … he suffers a lot and for us all the nightmare begins, a Dante’s circle that seems unreal.
Even today I wonder if he had realised his illness … if he knew the monster he was facing … if he understood that soon he would be completely destroyed by that monster.
I removed so many things because they hurt, it’s as if my brain had raised a wall to never see … Andrea died in a hospice on August 11th 2017.
They never gave us hope, but we always hoped for a miracle, until the end.
We have accepted everything the doctors have proposed us because we have always hoped, but today I am aware that we have only prolonged his suffering.
My hope is that medicine progresses more and more and that these monsters are defeated … a few days ago I came across this site that awakened me … it gave me joy for those who are fighting with positive results and suffering for those who have not made it.
After so long time now I have the courage to write this story … I have the courage to name the monster even if it still scares me.
This bad story left us all dismayed … a year after Andrea’s death, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, a very aggressive malignant carcinoma that had already affected the axillary lymph nodes.
I think my brother’s experience owes me a lot… I think I was lucky: I had the opportunity to be treated in time and to go out with mastectomy and chemotherapy.
It was a dark period: I was operated in full lock down but I had a chance.
I have often heard the phrase HE DID NOT DO IT BECAUSE HE LET GO, DID NOT FIGHT and I disagree: my brother has fought and a lot, but sometimes the monster is too strong and cannot be defeated … and many of you who have lost loved ones know how it is.
Now I feel physically healed, but I will carry the inner wounds for what happened to Andrea forever, me, my family, his splendid children Gianmarco, Leonardo and Pietro and his wife Lara.
I savor the good moments in life and in the bad ones I always think of Andrea, her story and I feel so lucky to have survived cancer.
Thank you Roberto for listening to me and for giving space to people who have shared such a devastating experience.
Certain experiences create empathy and sharing them helps you to break the pain for a moment.
My tears as I write are for all those who have not made it.