My brother in law Joey Fennell is just 40 years old. He was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, glioblastoma an aggressive type of brain cancer, on November 27, 2017. He is a dedicated father of 3 adorable and energetic little boys, Joey Jr. and Brandon (4 year old twins), and Cole (age 16 months), and a loving husband to Erin McGrath Fennell.
Joey has worked in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Monmouth Medical in Long Branch, NJ for over 16 years. He is currently the Chief Therapist and has been a part of a team that fights cancer on behalf of his patients.
As written by Steve Winant, Joey’s colleague:
“Joe bonds with almost every patient who walks through our doors. And it isn’t just the patients. Family members to this day, stop in just to say hello to Joe and to thank him again for the care and compassion that he showed during treatment. Joe’s office is a testament to how well he is loved. There are thank you cards, handwritten notes, drawings, painting and photographs of some of the young patients who fell in love with him on sight. Joe has a gift. He makes an extremely fighting experience into one filled with laughter. He makes everyone relax. He makes people forget for a few minutes that they are in for the flight of their lives. Now Joe is facing that fight.”
￼^October 16, 2017: Joey's first boss' days at Monmouth Medical.
Erin served honorably as the first woman police officer in Holmdel, NJ, her hometown, for over 14 years until she recently retired in order to focus on raising the boys.
Over the past couple of months, Joey had been suffering from bouts of high blood pressure. He was also dealing with some short term memory loss and confusion. He had been to the ER a couple of times to address these bouts of high blood pressure and his memory issues fearing a stroke.
> Friday, November 17th = He and Erin were scheduled for an appointment where he was planning to meet Erin. On the way to meeting Erin, he found himself driving in a “dream like” state without a clear understanding of where he was going or needed to be, so he drove home. He did not attend the appointment.
> Saturday, November 18th = The family had plans to attend a birthday party. Joey let Erin know that he wasn’t feeling up to attending and was planning to stay home instead.
That was not the complete truth.
Rather than worry Erin or ruin the boy’s day, he saw the Erin and the boy’s off to the birthday party and drove himself to the Emergency Room fearing an impending stroke or another occurrence of the previous day’s episode that could put the boy’s in harms way if he were to have another such episode while he is driving with them in the car.
It was then that the doctors performed a Cat Scan and saw a mass in his brain… immediately indicative of glioblastoma due to it’s position and size.
Then things started happening quickly.
> Monday, November 20th = MRI to pinpoint the mass in preparation for a biopsy.
> Tuesday, November 21st = A three hour operation to go through Joey’s skull to biopsy the mass.
> Wednesday, November 22nd = Joey is released from the hospital and returns to his home for Thanksgiving with Erin and the boys.
> Monday, November 27th = The biopsy results confirm glioblastoma.
> Monday, December 4th = Joey starts an aggressive 6 week treatment plan of chemo, radiation and immunotherapy.
Planning and implementing his treatment plan are his beloved coworkers at Monmouth Medical in Long Branch, NJ who have also teamed up with Duke’s nationally ranked Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center.
As a result, Joey has urgently and immediately started 6 weeks of aggressive chemo, radiation and immunotherapy treatment. After which, his brain tumor will be reassessed for the next phase of treatment.
As written by Steve Winant, Joey’s colleague:
“Glioblastoma is the worst of the worst. Here’s the irony… The has been treating patients with this same type of tumor and patients with many other types of cancers for the last 16 years. As a radiation therapist, Joe knows what his diagnosis means… there is no hiding it from him. He has seen his scans and he knows the prognosis.”
How You Can Help
Joey and Erin have lovingly served their community by focusing their education and careers on the service of others. Joey now finds himself fighting a disease that he dedicated his life’s work to defeating.
Despite being well insured through and impeccably cared for by the hospital where he works, Monmouth Medical, the family is facing meeting the remaining 2017 insurance deductable of $7,000 and a 2018 insurance deductible of $14,000 for out of pocket medical expenses in addition to the challenge of maintaining a home for a family of 5.
Any funds raised will be used to cover medical bills and ultimately the clinical trials and experimental treatments that will be needed to fight this.
Any donations received exceeding what will be necessary for the Fennell family to overcome medical expenses will be allocated for the educations of Joey Jr, Braydon and Cole.
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