Fast forward to June 2018. Robin, now 21 years old, has just returned from a trip to Asia and is starting his first professional internship at an investment firm in Tampa, FL. He has a bit of a headache and is feeling nauseous, but he just shrugs it off as nerves or bad Chipotle or something like that. A week goes by, still the same feeling of nausea. He starts to seek medical attention, going to see a few different medical professionals in the South Florida area. No one is able to tell him what’s wrong with him.
Rightfully worried and concerned, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Despite how the two brothers felt about France, there is one thing that is undoubtedly true – the healthcare system is miles ahead of that of the United States. So, Robin got on a flight to France, not even booking a return flight because he knew something was wrong. This was Friday, June 29th. He landed in Paris at 1:00 PM. By 3:00 PM, he found out he had a benign tumor in the left ventricle region of his brain. With his grandfather a highly regarded doctor throughout France, he was able to get in the care of Professor Parker, one of the world’s leading practitioners in neurosurgery. Robin met with him that Saturday; within a few minutes, he was scheduled for intensive brain surgery for that Tuesday, July 3rd.
Everyone’s life changed. His mother, who was with his sister in New York for a dance competition, booked a flight to France immediately. His brother, who lives and works in Atlanta, did the same. His father was already in France, but now, there were no plans of returning to the States. Everyone was there for Robin when he got out of surgery, and we were all so impressed and pleased by the man we saw.
Literal moments after getting out from brain surgery, when it normally takes weeks or even months to be able to move, Robin was stretching his arms and rotating his legs back and forth. He was conversing with us, he was completely conscious, and he was kicking his recovery’s ass. In fact, he was able to walk by himself within 2 days, something which usually takes several months for patients with a similar surgery. We were all so happy and pleased with how everything was going, and quite honestly, so was he.
And then came the next piece of the story. Robin’s benign tumor had been sent to the lab for biological analysis just as standard procedure, and as it turns out, it actually wasn’t benign at all; in fact, it was quite the opposite. What Robin had gotten removed was a malignant medulloblastoma, a cancerous tumor which turns out had metastasized into another region of his brain. Long story short, he had brain cancer, and needed to get treatment right away.
Robin was then sat down and told the plan, the plan that would ultimately determine the most basic thing – his survival. Regular sessions of chemotherapy followed by regular sessions of radiotherapy. He would perform all of these in France over the coming months.
Now, the hardest part for most cancer patients isn’t the physical symptoms and reaction to the therapy; the hardest part, by far, is the mental part. Staying positive amongst all of these negatives, keeping faith in the process even when your platelets get so low that you have to get a transfusion that doesn’t even work because you’re so depleted that your vein literally bursts when plucked with a needle, or being able to tell yourself that you’re going to get through this even when there is no indication or certainty at all. This isn’t like a common cold, or breaking a bone, or twisting an ankle. This is cancer, and nothing is certain.
So how does this apply to Robin? Well, he has always been a fighter; when it comes to the physical symptoms, he’s reacting very well and he himself is not worried about them. The mental part is a different story. Remember how when he and his brother were little kids, he told David “We’re never going back.” Well, he meant it. He never wanted to go back and spend extended amounts of time in France, much less live there while getting treated for arguably the worst type of cancer known to man. So, it’s needless to say that not only is the treatment tough, but he is incurably homesick, misses his friends, his habits, his familiarity of living in the US. And while we can’t literally bring the US to him, one thing we can do is bring the next best thing – his friends.
Robin has a crew, a group of several young men who all call each other best friends, and they all would be willing to do anything for one another. The goal of this fundraiser is to pay for biweekly trips to France for Robin’s best friends to come see him, to establish some sort of resemblance of home and bring some happiness and familiarity back into his life as he goes through and fights this horrible disease. As they say, even the smallest of lights shines bright if it’s in the darkest of places. Help us save Robin. Help us save my brother.
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- Gabriella Bastianelli
- Austin Horowitz
- Sam Kishore
- Roberto Bazan
Fundraising team: ROBIN (5)
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