A Horrible Nightmare

by Kate SnedekerCaregiverApril 14, 2022View more posts from Kate Snedeker

May 24th started like any other regular Sunday morning. I had just returned from a trip and was catching up with my dad, stepmom, and younger sister, telling stories while drinking a cup of coffee. Our light and giggly conversations about the weather and our dinner plans for that night quickly took a turn as I heard the words, “There is something we have to tell you.” Before I knew it, I was wrapped in my dad’s arms, squeezing my younger sister and crying harder than I ever had. My dad, my role model, my superhero, had been diagnosed with brain cancer. 

After hearing the Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) diagnosis, I ran to my phone, having never heard of it, and discovered it is a rare and terminal brain cancer. The statistics I read kept running through my mind: “25% of GBM patients survive over a year” and “glioblastoma is resistant to conventional therapies.” It felt like a horrible nightmare. 

Thankfully, a success occurred a few weeks later when my dad had almost all the tumor removed while awake during brain surgery in a hospital in Boston. My dad is awesome, right? For the rest of the summer, my Sundays, and almost every day of the week, became much more than the typical light giggles and coffee. My normal daily routine consisted of being consumed with the emotions of anticipatory grief, quickly becoming a “keto chef” to create a sugar-free diet for my dad, (which I also have taken part in) and driving my dad to radiation therapy at Johns Hopkins Sibley Memorial Hospital. Weekends often consisted of travel to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for a vaccine and immunotherapy as part of a clinical trial. 

My multitasking, quick thinking, and very active dad are still with me. Still, he does experience symptoms that make these things more difficult, including less energy, inability to react as quickly, and aphasia. My family has been blessed with resources such as amazing doctors and their care teams, including those of Dr. Antonio Chiocca and Dr. David Reardon, the incredible cancer fitness program Livestrong in Easton, MD, weekly keto meals from Green Chef, and lots of love and support to get us through every week. My dad is an incredible fighter, and I am so proud to be working on this project in his honor. 

Upon his diagnosis, it, unfortunately, occurred to me that although the most common brain tumor, glioblastoma multiforme is a largely under-financed cancer that has made discovering a cause and manufacturing a cure an impossible process. As someone who has long been a woman of action, including raising awareness for suicide prevention and building a team for DC’s suicide prevention walk after losing a close friend, I knew I had to do something about GBM and these statistics. 

It began with an idea to host a charity event to raise money and awareness through an event. Using my organization and planning skills, as I currently work for a wedding planner, to good use, it quickly became “The Iron Man Gala.” We intend for the cocktail attire gala to occur in Bethesda on May 19th. As I became more invested and decided I wanted this to be an annual event coupled with follow-up projects to help others, I decided to apply for entity status with the IRS. The organization will be the Gray for Glioblastoma Foundation. Our mission: to raise money and awareness to help glioblastoma become a treatable condition and develop a positive and hopeful space filled with accessible resources for those affected by GBM.

For more information on the foundation, donation requests, ticket sales, inquiries, etc. email hello@grayforglioblastomafoundation.com or check out our website: www.grayforglioblastomafoundation.com

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