This is Josh’s story, as told by his Mom. Josh turned 15 in January, 2009. He was a typical teen, in his first year of secondary school, socially active, decent student and a competitive swimmer. In that April he started to experience headaches, which everyone thought were migraines due to family history. By May, his vision was starting to get blurry. I took him to our optometrist and he discovered severe pressure behind Josh’s eyes and some hemorrhaging. First thing the next morning we were a London hospital being told that Josh had a mass in his brain. That night he underwent his first surgery to relieve the pressure that had built up. Resection surgery followed, where it was determined that Josh had a malignant immature teratoma of the pineal region of his brain. He started a chemotherapy protocol which instead of shrinking the remainder of the tumour, it caused it to grow. On the day he should have begun grade 10 he was once again undergoing surgery to resect the tumour. The doctors could only remove about half during that surgery and two days later Josh again endured another long surgery.
This time he suffered massive brain swelling and ended up with a set of complications common to pediatric brain tumour patients, Posterior Fossa Syndrome. He was then sent for several weeks of both whole brain and targeted radiation therapy. Josh returned home November 23/09. He was mute, had no control of voluntary functions, was on a feeding tube, could not sit or stand and now suffered from a seizure disorder.
That was 8 years ago. Neither Josh, his family or his friends gave up. As his brain healed he worked very hard to regain all that he had lost. He has had ups and downs, like when he broke both hips during a seizure and had to have pins inserted. Today he is living a new normal with an acquired brain injury. He walks with assistance, his speech returned, his swallowing ability came back, he returned to high school on a part-time basis and graduated. Josh even attended a modified, assisted college program, CICE, for two years. He is living proof that you should never give up hope on anyone. Josh does not have any memories of the darkest days, he just looks to the future. We are very grateful to organizations, like the Terry Fox Foundation that support cancer research. Without all the advancements that have been made, Josh may not be here to tell his story.