Fighting a Battle With Brain Cancer

Updated: 05/28/2014 10:35 PM
Created: 05/28/2014 5:44 PM

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Imagine being 29 years old and hearing you have a tumor in your brain the size of a soda can. That was reality for a Wisconsin man currently undergoing treatment at Mayo Clinic in Rochester and working to raise awareness of brain cancer.

May is Brain Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Brain Tumor Association, last year alone nearly 70 thousand people in the United States were diagnosed with brain tumors.

Mark Chrudimsky of Antigo, WI was diagnosed in 2004. "I thought my life was over," Mark says.

At 29 years old, Mark got the news that changed his life. Mark says, "The tech came out and said you might want to call your doctor tomorrow. And I knew they found something."

They found a tumor the size of a soda can taking over Mark's brain. "I didn't think there was any hope," Mark says.

Doctors took action. Mark underwent a risky surgery. 95 percent of his tumor was removed, but the operation left mark unable to speak and partially paralyzed.

"Surgery was on a Thursday and I spoke my first word on that following Monday," remembers Mark.

It would take months for Mark to fully regain his speech, and more than two years of therapy to get him to walk as well as he does today.

Mark says, "I used to play tennis. I used to mountain bike. I use to run. When I found out I couldn't do those things, but I can walk and talk, that's pretty amazing."

And what's inspiring is mark's attitude.

He's undergone chemotherapy, and following that first surgery, he had two more. One was in 2011, and the other in 2012, to help with painful, chronic headaches.

And now, more problems with what's left of the tumor.

"That has been growing the past two years and they felt that radiation would stop it," Mark says.

And that's what brought Mark back to Mayo Clinic. For the past month, he's been undergoing daily radiation treatments.

"It's unnerving being clamped down to the table and you have a mask over your face and it's intense," Mark says.

Once Mark is finished with radiation he'll undergo a MRI to see how successful the treatments have been.

For Mark, its a waiting game, not knowing and only able to wonder what will happen next.

Doctor Nadia Laack is a radiation oncologist at Mayo Clinic and is Mark's Doctor.

Dr. Laack says, "Unfortunately we still tell these patients that get this tumor that at this point we don't usually cure it, but we try to treat it for as long as possible."

Mark says, "When I wake up every day I'm grateful. I try to live each day to the fullest because I don't if this is going to take my life."

Doctor Laack say the people with the type of brain cancer Mark has typically don't live longer than 15 years. When mark was diagnosed he was given five years to live. This Fall will mark is tenth year fighting the disease.

To view Mark's CaringBridge site click here.

To view Mark's Blog click here.