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Our Own Family's Fight: My Husband's Brain Tumor

After my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor, our lives changed forever.

It’s the event that forever changed our family and created our own new normal. It was not something families want to hear: tumor, cancer, brain.

It was a night in the emergency room I will never forget, on June 26 2006, when the doctor came in to tell my husband, Dan, and I that Dan had a brain tumor. With a 3-month-old baby at home and two-year-old twins, we could not imagine what the future would hold.

Fast-forward almost six years to today. Our then baby, Aiden, turned six in March, and our twins, Jack and Drew, will be 8 in a few weeks. My husband Dan is counted among the lucky ones — a survivor! Dan turned 40 last summer, an occasion we were not sure Dan would reach when we heard those first words in the ER many years ago.

We live life as a family! Dan manages and is the assistant coach of two little league teams for our sons. He is on the PTA’s executive board at , where our children are in school. I returned to work full time almost two years ago. I manage to stay very busy not only working, but also volunteering at Bollinger Canyon Elementary, chairing the donations on a school auction, and even coordinating donations for the annual 5k Bay Area Brain Tumor Walk held at Golden Gate Park on Saturday, May 5, 2012. Most importantly, we get to be husband and wife and mom and dad!

Each year, my family has walked in the annual 5k Bay Area Brain Tumor, rain or shine. On our first walk, we toted a twin stroller and had our 3-year-old twins take turns in it while our one year old rode the entire length of the 5k. The next year we left the stroller at home and were amazed that our three boys walked the entire way and excitedly ran through the balloon arch at the finish line! We raised money for the National Brain Tumor Society for a cause that truly means the survival of our family. This is what we continue to do today, as we look ahead to May 5th.

This year, our three children named our team “The Fast Franks”. As the event nears, we’ll make signs with our team names and really get into the spirit. If you would like to learn more about this worthwhile event, walk with us in the fight to end brain tumors, or even want to make a donation to NBTS in honor of my husband, our family, and our team, please visit here.

Each year, when we attend this event, I am amazed at the sea of participants, many touched in some way or another by a brain tumor. I listen to stories of survival, hear of loved ones who are no longer with us, or I see fellow walkers who are survivors (donning a survivor’s shirt) and I think about how lucky my own family is. 

My husband is alive! He can coach our sons, go to sleep next to me at night and wake up the next morning knowing he is starting a new day. Dan’s type of brain tumor will come back someday — we know that. His type of tumor always eventually does. Here’s what we don’t know yet, though, and this is why we walk: We walk for a definitive, never-going-to come-back, golden ticket cure. A cure that can only be discovered by doctors and neuro-scientists with money raised from annual events like the 5k Bay Area Brain Tumor Walk that provides this vital research. We walk because to our family, we must!

To learn more about the 5k Bay Area Brain Tumor Walk, whether you want to donate money or even participate, please visit here Every little bit helps, and together we can work miracles!

Sarah Frank April 26, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Ursula, what a fabulous story to share--grade 4 gliomas are so deadly. Your daughter is an inspiration! We live our own lives with the attitude that life is about living and making memories. We live each day to the fullest and in many ways think dealing with a brain tumor has made us into a stronger family unit!
joyce yee April 26, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Sarah, We're so blessed to have you in our lives! Your strength is an inspiration to us. We walk such a similar path - caring for a family member with cancer (Teo's big brother needed 13 months of chemo as a baby) and raising funds to find a cure! Great nutrition is keeping cancer in remission for over 9 years now (pretty sure of that!). And, yes, living everyday to the fullest is our mantra, too. Hugs!
Chip Shabazian April 26, 2012 at 09:34 PM
We are currently fighting this battle. My wife is just the fifth ever documented case to have her typically slow growing type of brain tumor metasticize into her cerebrospinal fluid. She finished massive amounts of full brain and spine radiation last week, and now all I can do is hope and pray for her recovery as I listen to her moan in pain and not get out of bed or even know where she is most of the time. How anyone gets through this is beyond me. We have amazing support from our community, and I still can't handle this most days, but I must keep marching forward for our children. Like you, we have twins, but not just one set, rather, two sets, aged 6 and 9. You can read about our journey at http://juli.shabazian.com
Sarah Frank April 26, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Your family is in our thoughts and prayers...
Loma Miller April 28, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Sarah - This is so encouraging. Thank you so much for sharing! I look forward to seeing you at the walk and cheering your team on!

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