I’ve been struggling with how to tell this story as its words are those I never wished to write. So with a heavy heart and a lump in my throat, here goes…
If you’re lucky enough to know my 28 year old brother, Alex Bowlby, you’ll know his smile lights up a room, his stories know nearly no end and he truly has a heart of gold. He’s a dependable and trustworthy friend, a loyal and loving brother, a wonderful son, and a perfect partner. His love for his friends, his family and most of all his fiancé, Christina, knows no bounds. However, now he needs a whole lot of love, positivity and encouragement from us and here’s why…
A little over a month ago, after Alex and Christina closed on the purchase of their first home, Alex had been experiencing these little bouts of sleepiness; dozing off during Netflix binges and while riding as a passenger in the car. Aside from waking up with confusion and fear lasting for a few seconds and not thinking not too much of it, he took note and moved on. However these episodes began to occur more frequently and were paired with a strong smell, that only he could smell and he described as Carmex. Just about two weeks ago these episodes happened twice in one day, and the second time while he was awake mowing his lawn. This prompted a call to his doctor and a trip to the emergency room.
Describing his symptoms to the ER physician, it became clear there was cause for concern and imaging would need to be done. It was at that point where our greatest fear was realized; they had found a mass in his brain and more advance testing would need to be completed.
Following the next several hours, Alex had a CT, an MRI and was admitted to the hospital. A few short hours later, he was meeting with a neurosurgeon and they had planned to do a biopsy of this mass to determine what it was.
Alex was such a trooper and handled the biopsy like a champ, showing no fear and rocking the fresh incision on his head like a star. Due to some swelling and discomfort he was having, he spent five nights in the hospital recovering. Although there were times of concern (Alex having trouble with his word processing and balance) he kept up his positive spirit and was certainly the most well-mannered patient on the floor, always thanking the nurses for their hard work and patience with him.
Practicing patience is certainly a virtue and we were all tested when we had to await the results of the biopsy. The samples collected were sent to Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic so a clear diagnosis could be made.
One week ago, surrounded by his family and fiancé, we received the results. Alex has a grade two glioma, which the neurosurgeon referred to as a diffuse astrocytoma, a form of brain cancer. Words we all never wanted to hear, our fears realized; cancer.
Cancer is a situation no family wants to face and we were already all too familiar with the fear and tangled web of feelings a diagnosis of this nature brings. If you weren’t aware, our mom, Rose Rosenau, currently undergoes cancer treatment for her neuroendocrine carcinoid tumor; an inoperable, a slow growing tumor wrapped around her pulmonary artery. Clearly the evil in cancer knows no bounds and doesn’t play by a rulebook.
Alex has a long road ahead of him. On top of being a new homeowner and planning his wedding, he now faces a new challenge. Continued imaging (a functional MRI) will help to determine where this tumor sits in reference to important brain functions such as language, motor sensory skills and memory. It’s not a tiny tumor either; this beast is 1.5”x 2 x 2” and likely has been in his brain for a number of years. After that imaging is complete, Alex will likely bring that information to other facilities seeking out their opinions at what will best set him up for the successful and bright future that I know he has ahead of him.
We were told there’s a chance for a cure if complete resection is possible, but that would involve an awake craniotomy, a risky procedure in which they would work in his brain to remove the tumor, or as much of it as possible. I pray for this every day.
Now we need your help. Alex needs your prayers, your positivity, your well wishes and smiles. He is a tough guy with a big heart and with the loving network of friends and family we have in you, he will get through this!
“Rise above the storm and you will find the sunshine!”