SPONSOR Walk Like a Man for Joe Varga
In my best efforts to share some of my dad, Joe Varga’s story, much of it is not my story to tell. The following remains an informative glimpse, while still protecting our show full storyfamily’s privacy during that which is the remainder of life with primary brain cancer... In 2014, three weeks before his first grandchild was born, my dad was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer in the form of a Glioblastoma tumor. These words never meant anything to us before, after all, my family was planning for the arrival of a new baby! In both respects, we were charting new territory and were oh-so-hopeful. I vividly remember after my dad's surgery, at one of the many appointments to follow, asking the doctor if they had gotten all the tumor. The doctor proceeded to inform us more about brain tumors specifically, and how they are similar to octopus tentacles. The tentacles can wrap and extend, and much like a real octopus, parts grow back. The tumor doesn't lose stride, even with treatments in place. Also, with surgery of the brain, margins cannot be expanded around the tumor, since that would mean removing important parts of the brain. My dad was such a humble warrior during this time and endured chemotherapy and radiation, with my mother, a steady rock, by his side. Together, we tried our best to navigate dark waters that led into the unknown, as life expectancy with a Glioblastoma tumor ranges from 12-18 months. Fortunately, we had a shining light and something positive to focus on. My dad had a few wonderful months to love his grandson, Benjamin, unconditionally, and enjoy our last moments together. I am unable to discount the happiness they brought one another, but our time together was not ever going to be enough. Close to six months later, we began praying for a different kind of miracle. Since your brain literally controls every thought and action you set your body to do, faculties are lost quite rapidly when you have a foreign octopus taking over. Furthermore, the octopus has friends, and more show up unfortunately. The tumor that had been removed became recurrent and new tumors began to develop in different lobes. I began to watch my tall, strong father who was so good with his hands, extremely capable and independent, slowly disintegrate. Between he and Benjamin, it was an ebb and a flow of development. My son was growing stronger each day, having more and more first moments to witness and praise; My dad was able to do less, needing more assistance and care, and above all, unconditional love. The outpour of support came from family and friends, who didn't quite know what to say or do. Understandable. We all remained lost, despite learning and experiencing more than ever before. When I look back on my dad's journey with brain cancer, it was such a small segment, compared to his 61 years of celebratory life. He was a son, a brother, an uncle, a husband, then father, and fortunately, a grandfather. Those are the parts we cherish and reminisce back to. He was someone who referred to my mother as "dear" during their conversations and was an ultimate provider for our family. My brother and I grew up learning how to work hard, value education, be respectful, and take pride in every success reached. The fact that it was such a difficult journey makes it seem more palpable and much longer than it truly was. I hope that you will consider joining our walk to honor my dad and help support The Musella Foundation. Our family’s journey with brain cancer has ended; however, we are left with deep scars and precious memories of a fleeting time. My dad's light will continue to shine through his beloved family and friends, as we walk beside one another to bring about awareness and support through comradery. I believe in supporting those who remain in pursuit of living a qualitative life with a brain tumor. ALL proceeds go to support research for brain cancer, as doctors, scientists, hospitals, and universities reach newer developments for prolonging lives that are rich with quality. Currently, there is no known cause or cure for brain cancer and it is not discriminate against gender, age, race, or ethnicity.