2010 Humor to Fight the Tumor Event

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The 2010 Humor to Fight the Tumor gala was the most successful in our organization’s history, both in attendance and the money raised for The American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA). Held on September 18, 2010, over 570 people attended and it netted over $211,000. This year’s sold-out gala featured a performance by Emmy-winning comedian Jeff Stilson, remarks by Mayo Clinic Oncologist Jan Buckner, M.D., a dinner, live and silent auctions, and personal brain tumor stories of determination and courage.

A video paid tribute to the 2010 Humor to Fight the Tumor honorees: Julie Fletcher, a 42-year-old, 3-year oligoastrocytoma survivor; Mike Gleason, a 31-year-old Best Buy executive who recently lost his battle with glioblastoma; Bruce Tate, who lived 17-years with an oligodendroglioma before passing away at the age of 38; and Mark Westerman, who was diagnosed with an anaplastic astrocytoma brain tumor (now stabilized) in 2009.

Honorees

Mark Westerman (age 39)

I was diagnosed with an anaplastic astrocytoma, grade three brain cancer after having a massive seizure in the middle of the night on February 2, 2009.

My wonderful wife, Veronica, has been by my side throughout this. I am not sure how she has done it. I have always said what we went through is harder on the family and friends than the patient. We have two wonderful twin boys.

Throughout my life, I have become a bigger believer in miracles. I have also seen many with this disease live much longer than expected. My tumor, which started out the size of a man's fist, was thought at first to be inoperable. It is now completely stable. Along this journey of finding our “new normals” we have found many new friends and gotten reacquainted with many other of our friends. I feel blessed to have so many people in my life.

Bruce Tate (November 3, 1968 - November 13, 2006)

Bruce grew up in southeast Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire where he graduated with a teaching degree. In his junior year, he began experiencing grand mal seizures. In January of 1990 he underwent testing and a biopsy at the Mayo Clinic and learned that he had a grade two oligodendroglioma. Because of where the tumor was located and the risk of paralysis, they recommended radiation treatment instead of surgery. In 1994, he had a recurrence and was able to have surgery. The tumor was upgraded to a grade three oligodendroglioma and eventually became a grade three oligoastrocytoma.

In the 17 years he lived with the tumor, Bruce underwent four additional surgeries, six different forms of chemotherapy and a second round of radiation. He was amazingly positive and always remained hopeful that a cure would be found. Bruce felt as if he were put on this earth to help others. He participated in studies whenever he could in hopes to find a cure. Bruce also wanted to be an organ donor and because of Bruce’s generosity, a gentleman in Indiana is alive. His family is comforted knowing that Bruce’s heart continues to beat.

Mike Gleason (May 3, 1978 – July 23, 2010)

In November 2009, Mike began experiencing numbness in one of his hands. His symptoms progressed and three days before Christmas he was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme. Mike underwent surgery, two rounds of radiation coupled with chemotherapy and finally gamma knife radio-surgery. At the young age of 32, Mike fought for his life every day. Despite progression of symptoms he continued to work at Best Buy Corporation and spent every minute he could with his two sons, Jack (age 3) and Benjamin (age 1), and wife Jennifer.

Julie Fletcher

On May 23rd, 2007 I had a grand mal seizure that landed me in the emergency room in Fort Collins, Colorado while accompanying my husband on a business trip. Later that evening, I was told I had a brain tumor the size of a pear in the right frontal lobe of my brain. On June 21, 2007 I had a successful brain surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. The next day, I was diagnosed with a grade four oligoastrocytoma and given a prognosis of possibly 12-15 months to live. Since that day, I have decided to fight this disease head on. The next six weeks consisted of radiation therapy and then on to six cycles (months) of chemotherapy.

Today, I continue to try and stay healthy and active and to find strength mentally through my family and friends. I have chosen to keep a positive mental attitude and to carry a strong faith that provides me with hope for a bright and healthy future for many years to come.

Photos

  • Honoree Julie Fletcher and her family

  • Honoree Mike Gleason's family

  • Honoree Mark Westerman and Family

  • Honoree Bruce Tate and Family