stachestrong family picture

Family over everything.

When something like this happens, it affects everyone differently. Our family is small, but our family is mighty.

​​​Here is OUR story...

Mom’s Story | Written March 2018

I always love to receive calls from our kids…but not the two calls from Colin hours apart on 9/2/17:

Mom, GJ had a seizure and

Mom, GJ has a brain tumor.

I don’t remember much between 9/2 and 9/6 (the date of surgery). It was all far more than I could handle, but on 9/6, despite waiting HOURS for a delayed surgery, when they came to take GJ to the Operating Room, I vividly recall him saying “Time to dance”? Through the last six months, GJ has sailed through a seizure, a diagnosis, chemo, proton radiation and now more chemo and the Optune cap.

I can honestly say he has not complained ONCE.

His ability to say “Time to dance” as he was leaving to have his skull cut open from ear to ear to remove a tumor is something I still can’t understand. I have found it very difficult to navigate my new role…I’m supposed to be the strong one; I’m the mom! I have feared joining this club my mom belonged to….the one where moms are told: “Your child has cancer”. Yet here I am.

What helps me Get up, Dress up and Show up? Family, friends and faith…and most of all GJ. My best days are when I’m with him, because honestly, there’s not one sign of illness…not one! He’s an amazing young man who knows that even though ‘statistically’, there is a very small percentage of people that has no recurrence for years, he strongly believes “someone has to be in that percentage and it’s going to be me”.

gj birthday picture with mom

Another quotable quote from the early days is when he found me crying and asked

“What’s wrong”

When I said:

“I’m so scared of the unknown”

He replied 

“That’s probably not a very smart thing”.

Although I’m the mom, he continues to hold ME up!

mom and gj stachestrong

Shortly after the tumor was confirmed to be the most aggressive form of brain cancer, a GBM, we went to a play in NYC.

One of the lines was a verse from the bible “Be anxious for nothing”. I looked that up, and it, along with GJ’s advice not to let my fear of the unknown consume me, has been my mantra.

Those who know me know that I have a strong faith in God, and I believe angels are constantly around my family. A couple weeks before his diagnosis I very often saw the signs they send me. I wasn’t sure why they were so prevalent….but I believe they were reminding me….we’re here with you.

Along those lines, I know that the number 11 is related to the presence of angels and serve as a reminder that I should pass my fear over to the angels. How fitting, therefore:

GJ was born on 10/2, the feast day of Guardian Angels;

GJ’s seizure (without it the cancer would have continued to grow) was on 9/2 (9+2=11);

The phone call from Colin that GJ had a brain tumor came at exactly 11:11 PM on 9/2;

We learned the pathology results on 9/13 (11 days post diagnosis; also 9/13 adds to 22, 11 doubled!)

His coin (indicating the # Procure assigned to him) is 2992 (first two and last two digits add to 11; all four together…22!).

I do know that I am humbled by the MANY (so many) people praying for GJ.

I believe his positive attitude, the knowledge of doctors, researchers and scientists combined with the grace of God will result in the miracle of NED (No Evidence of Disease) in his MRIs for many many years to come.

For the past six months, our family has been strengthened by the prayers and support of friends. Additionally, though, I’ve watched our ‘kids’ step up and support each other, Geo and most of all me! It’s not how it’s supposed to work…I’m supposed to be strong for them.

However, I do not know what we would do without each other. Stache Strong, baby…STACHE STRONG!!!

Dad’s Story | Written March 2018

Before Sept 2, 2017, I could not conceive that an event would change not only my outlook on the future, but also the pattern and logistics of my every day.

Up to that point my retiree outlook was that if I can’t finish a task today, I can do it tomorrow. I had plans of what I wanted to accomplish or do but they were only thoughts. That day initiated an all-consuming new world of learning medical matters as my family shared in the care of GJ needs. I also needed to ensure that my family would succeed by performing the myriad of travel logistics that were required (going between Mt Sinai in NYC, Procure in Somerset NJ, and our homes in Wurtsboro NY and Vestal NY).

“StacheStrong” became the moniker of that new outlook and fortitude.

My external emotions were put aside to ensure our band made it thru the journey to come. The odyssey’s first stage started out when Betsy and I had gotten a call from Colin relaying the news of GJ’s seizure that afternoon while up in Cape Cod at a friend’s house.