Atlanta, Ga. (September 26, 2013) – When Stan Thain, 56, sat down to check his email one day, he noticed the letters on the screen appeared jumbled. A visit to his eye doctor found nothing wrong so he consulted doctors at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, who diagnosed Thain with stage IV Glioblastoma, the most common and most deadly form of brain tumors.
“When I found out about the diagnosis, I just told my family, ‘Let’s be happy and enjoy each day one day at a time,’” said Thain, owner of nuisance wildlife control company Critters Incarcerated in South Fayette County. “If this is in God’s plan, it would be foolish for me to get upset.”
Without treatment, doctors estimated Thain had just two months to live. Immediately, Thain was referred to the Piedmont Brain Tumor Center where he would have the tumor surgically removed by Howard Chandler, Jr., M.D.
“It’s a beautiful thing to go to sleep having utmost faith in both physicians…the one above (God) and the one with the scalpel in his hands,” said Thain, who was discharged the day after surgery and spent the next week at the beach.
“I have no doubt that Stan’s optimism and perseverance has aided him in his battle,” said Dr. Chandler, neurosurgical oncologist and medical director of the Piedmont Brain Tumor Center. “A Glioblastoma multiforme is a highly aggressive, malignant brain tumor and a very difficult condition to treat.”
In addition to surgery, Thain underwent dozens of radiation and chemotherapy rounds at the Piedmont Fayette Cancer Center before “ringing the bell” for the first time – a tradition that patients take part in when they complete cancer treatment.
“Dr. Adam Nowlan and everyone on the Cancer Center staff have been so professional and caring,” said Thain. “They helped me through a very difficult time.”
Despite the fatigue his treatment caused, each day after radiation therapy, Thain would climb five flights of stairs to keep up his endurance and stay in shape. Thain also walked between two and four miles every day.
“It would have been easy to just go home after radiation and sleep for six hours, wake up to eat, and then sleep some more but I want to stay active for as long as possible,” said Thain, who is already back to work humanely trapping nuisance animals like chipmunks and moles, and re-releasing them in natural habitats. “I already feel stronger than I did at the beginning of treatment.”
Accounting for over half of all brain tumors, a Glioblastoma often presents slowly, through neurologic deficiencies – sometimes including visual impairment based on the location of the tumor. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 23,130 people will be diagnosed with brain and other nervous system cancers in 2013.
The Piedmont Brain Tumor Center team, which goes beyond treatment of the tumor itself and works with patients and families to address evolving symptoms and needs like sleep, energy conservation, nutrition and memory, is supported by philanthropists like Betsy Orr, whose late husband lost his battle with a Glioblastoma in 2011. For more information about the Piedmont Brain Tumor Center, visit piedmontbraintumorcenter.org.