By Sean Sanchirico
For some, the journey with a brain tumor may be a month; some a year, some 5 years, and some for over a decade. My journey started in the fall of 2012 which was the beginning of my senior year of high school. I remember feeling sicker than I had ever felt in my entire life, and it lasted for weeks. Those weeks led to months, and months eventually led to years. I would vomit just about every day until the discovery of a brain tumor saved my life. That’s right, I went through most of my entire journey with a brain tumor that myself, my family, and medical professionals didn’t even know was there. This was until the day I first noticed I was seeing double. At first it was gradual, like when I looked out to my right while on the golf course or in my college classes, but it became constant just hours later. Things were heading downhill fast.
Fortunately, I have a tremendous ophthalmologist who saw an immense amount of inflammation on my optic nerve. The following day I had an MRI at Penn Medicine and my surgeon, Dr. Donald O’Rourke, discovered a brain tumor. As crazy as it sounds, the news was a relief to my family and I because we finally had an answer. Less than 72 hours later, I was in the operating room for brain surgery to remove the tumor.
Surgery was a success, but then it came time to recover. My journey would continue for another couple months of acute rehabilitation at Magee Rehabilitation, followed by more outpatient physical therapy. I had a few goals, and they consisted of returning to my college courses at Rutgers University and returning to the Rutgers golf team as well. With hard work and dedication, I would achieve those goals in just 8 months post-surgery. In a way, my journey continues because I still battle double vision, although there has been significant improvement after a few eye muscle surgeries.
My story is something that will stay with me forever. Every brain tumor patient has a story, and if it wasn’t for the National Brain Tumor Society we may not hear as many. Each story serves a purpose that not only expresses a patient’s strength, but also acts as a resource to finding a cure. There is no greater feeling than being surrounded by individuals and their families who have traveled on a similar path. Over the course of the two years I’ve participated in the Race for Hope, I’ve embraced the sense of unity and togetherness with everyone in attendance. It is a powerful day for prayer, reflection, and HOPE. I can see myself being a part of the event throughout years to come. My first memories at the Race for Hope include meeting wonderful and resilient people who all share the same goal: finding a cure. Because of the Race for Hope, progress in finding a cure improves each year. From a brain tumor survivor, we all appreciate your donations and attendance and it truly does make a difference in our battle.
Please join me and my team (Team Sean Strong), and hundreds of other brain tumor survivors, fighters, and those honoring the memory of loved ones at this year’s Race for Hope in Philadelphia on Saturday, October 13, 2018. Every year I set a goal for myself to beat my previous run time, just like I set goals to recover. I promise there isn’t a more powerful and fun day in the year and it is an honor to be in everyone’s presence. Join today to help find a cure!