Here is Chris Devero's story, in his own words:
2010 began with a bachelor party and ended with brain cancer.
I was 35 years old and embarking on a new life when I was diagnosed. I had just sold my restaurant delivery business in Dallas. I was moving up to Portland to be with my wife. I had literally just gotten married.
For 10 years, I delivered food for places like Chili’s, Big Daddy’s, and some mom and pop places, too. I was the forerunner to UberEATS, working seven days a week in my car. My only regret was that I missed the curve; everybody has an app for food delivery now.
Right before the move in August, I had experienced some numbness for a couple of minutes in my right leg, like it fell asleep. It happened on and off, but I didn’t get too serious about it. My wife thought I should get it checked out, but I didn’t. We came home from a baseball game one night, and the numbness started again. I felt this crazy pulsing in my stomach. I lied down and then went into a full grand mal seizure.
The next day, the doctors found a tumor the size of two marbles at the top of my head. They had planned to do surgery the next day, but my operation was interrupted when I was under anesthesia. The radiologist didn’t get enough pictures of my head, so they stopped the surgery. I had to be pulled out from being under aenesthesia. My surgeon, one of the best in the country, freaked out; my family and friends are freaked out. Eventually, the hospital made it right, and they did the surgery a couple of days later.
They took out 60-70% of the tumor. They didn’t want to take too much out; otherwise, it would have affected my motor skills. As a runner, that was huge. About a month after the surgery, I started an oral chemo for a year—one week on, three weeks off. When I stopped chemo, I just went in for check-ups every few months. I found a neuro-oncologist who was happy to wait and see how the tumor would respond.
Astrocytoma is a progressive cancer, meaning it’ll keep coming back. Last summer, I was having some trouble in my left eye, all due to the tumor. If I didn’t get radiation, I would have lost complete sight in that eye. I ended up taking a leave from work for six weeks and got treatment at MD Anderson. I was nervous at first about getting it, but it was relatively painless and my sight is normal again.
As soon as I was diagnosed, however, I took my health into my own hands. I made sure I was doing everything I could to be healthy, researching what other people had done who had my diagnosis. For the last six years, I’ve been learning how to detox my body, take the right supplements, and eat the right food.
My wife and I started out with an 80/20 vegetable-to-meat based diet; now we’re completely vegan. Well, that’s 99% true. When we were in Mexico celebrating our anniversary, we had some fish and cheese—when you’re there on vacation, you gotta do it. My wife is terrific. She’s been on board with me for all of these changes. She’s also become an amazing vegan cook.
I’ve also been juicing fruits and vegetables every day for seven years. On the first day home from the hospital, I was juicing. There was even a time when I was making about eight juices a day.
I continued to run, I started using an ozone canopy machine to get as much oxygen in me as possible, and I was getting IVs of Vitamin C. I decided from day 1 to do all that I could—everything my doctor wanted, plus a whole range of alternative medicine. We absolutely think we can slow this tumor down; if nothing else, though, my wife and I are really, really healthy.
Every single day, I try to step back, take a deep breath, and just appreciate what I have. I thought I did that before I was diagnosed, but when you’re hit with cancer, it means something more. Much more. Before cancer, I never told my parents or wife that I loved them. Everyday, I tell them that now. I don’t want a single moment to pass me by.
I take to heart the quote “Get Busy Living,” from The Shawshank Redemption, which is also the motto for CancerCon. If there’s something my wife and I want to do, we do it. We take spontaneous trips all the time. And if there’s stuff we don’t want to do, we don’t do it.
I’m turning my diagnosis into something positive. I linked up with a friend who has a brain cancer foundation in DC to raise money and awareness for the cause by competing in the World Marathon Challenge—seven marathons in seven days on all seven continents. It’s going to be awesome. I loved doing marathons and triathlons before, but it’s rewarding to be able to direct my energy in this way.
I also want to get my story out there, the way other people have put their stories out there, which influenced me. There’s so much a person can do on their own to live well and live a long time—eat right, reduce stress, get rid of people and circumstances that are dragging you down. It’s kind of a joint pact: you own the parts of your life you can control... and hopefully, with enough funding and education, science can do the rest.
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