Runners helping Runners – National Brain Tumor Society and the Boston Marathon


Running the Boston Marathon is a goal for some, for others it’s about LIFE and DEATH.

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Ryan Robertson’s story about both.

March of 2010 seems like an eternity ago, but it’s a month I’ll never forget.  I was feeling great, training for some summer races, and had a week long rock climbing trip planned to Nevada at the end of the month. After going out for a run one day, I noticed that the left side of my face felt slightly numb. After a few days of increasing numbness, I checked in with my doctor who suggested an MRI.

Feeling completely confident that it would turn out to be nothing, I was shocked to learn that, at the age of 25, I had a type of brain tumor called an acoustic neuroma. Even more devastating, was finding out the tumor was nearly the size of a tennis ball. In less than 24 hours, my general practitioner contacted Dr. Allan Friedman at Duke, considered by many to be the top brain surgeon in the world. As you can imagine, Dr. Friedman is incredibly sought after and busy. He wasn’t taking any appointments that day, but after seeing my MRI, agreed to meet with me right away.

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Two months later I underwent brain surgery with Dr. Friedman and another world renowned brain surgeon, Dr. Fukushima, who happened to be teaching as an adjunct professor at Duke. The surgery was scheduled to take around 6 hours but ended up lasting 13 as the doctors worked with meticulous precision trying not to damage nerves that could have left the side of my face permanently paralyzed. Thanks to their skill, expertise, and precision I came out of the surgery with great results. The entire team that worked with me at the Duke Brain Tumor Center was phenomenal. Within a couple months of surgery I was back to running, rock climbing, and working my way through graduate school classes. I’m incredibly thankful for the results of my surgery, but unfortunately, being diagnosed with a brain tumor doesn’t always end the same way.

I consider it a great privilege to be able to run the Boston Marathon and raise money on behalf of the National Brain Tumor Society. Funding for research is continually leading to better treatments for brain tumors and the hope that a cure will eventually be found. Please join me in this continuing journey and the fight against brain tumors. I was incredibly thankful to have this world-class facility just a few miles down the street. Beyond the high caliber of everyone I’ve had the pleasure to encounter at Duke, the thing that impressed me most was their level of knowledge, skill, and teamwork. Their cutting edge research and technology gave me confidence that everything would work out. I would wish the same peace of mind for anyone diagnosed with a brain tumor.

How can you help?  PLEASE visit Ryan Robertson’s Crowd Rise page and make a donation.  Any amount helps…lost for a number, 26.2 sounds good.