2017 National HOPE Award Nominations
Please click on each name to read their story…. Alexander Paley Greg Cantwell Leila Valentine Mariah Fersner Neil Curtis Trevor Grainger Ben Williams Bruce Blount Barbara Cox Cheryl Broyles Cody Ganzini Norma Henderson Kevin Baumann Wilbur Junge Alexander Moore
Thank you to our 2017 National HOPE Award Sponsor!
2017 National HOPE Award Winner – Kevin Mandersheid
Kevin’s journey with brain cancer started last year in February 2016. He was diagnosed with stage 4, Gliosarcoma after experiencing 5 days of severe headaches, memory loss, and cognitive decline. He refused to go to the doctor until he could no longer withstand the pain and pressure mounting inside his head, all the while never complaining and working full time. It was brought to my attention by his employees that he was not functioning at his normal capacity and that something was “off.” After hearing this feedback, I took Kevin to the Urgent Care the next day which was the start of this crazy ride called brain cancer. Kevin was transferred from Urgent Care to Valley Medical Center to Harborview and finally to University of Washington Medical Center.
Within 3 days, he underwent a craniotomy removing approximately 80% of a tangerine sized tumor. He was in surgery for 5 1/2 hours. He agreed to the procedure knowing that he may be forever changed physically and mentally. Kevin recovered at University of Washington for approximately one month. He woke up from surgery without being able to walk or talk. He spent 3 weeks participating in Bootcamp physical, occupational, and speech therapy. He had to relearn how to speak, walk, dress himself, eat, and live. After his graduation from bootcamp, he was able to come home. Luckily we had family there to oversee his safety, daily progress, remind him of his basic self-care routines, and help him recover.
During the next 6 months, Kevin traveled back and forth to University of Washington 5 days a week to participate in ongoing outpatient therapies as well as chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He rapidly improved in his physical and occupational tasks. Speech therapy proved to be a difficult area for Kevin. He was diagnosed with expressive and receptive aphasia making it extremely difficult for him to communicate clearly. His short term memory was also affected leaving him with challenges remembering how to do things in his daily life and path finding. He had to relearn how to do many daily tasks that we often take for granted. He was fortunate to have a wonderful support system from his employees that offered and provided transportation for him to and from treatments.
We are forever grateful to these friends and employees that stepped up to help us in this time of need. After 6 months of much needed rest and recovery, Kevin was able to return to work. His employers were absolutely fantastic about providing needed supports, flexibility and understanding of the needs for Kevin’s brain to recover. Kevin still needs support at times with short term memory issues, but has learned to compensate by writing things down, sticky notes, calendars, routines and plain old asking for help! Kevin learned to let down his guard and to accept others’ help even if he felt that it was a sign of weakness. He realized it was okay to ask for help and to lean on others if needed.
Today Kevin drives, works full time, and provides for his family. He takes care of his son every morning making sure he is showered, fed breakfast and walks him to the school bus. He participates in his sporting activities and takes him to music lessons. Kevin is often fatigued and doesn’t have the energy after finishing his monthly chemotherapy cycles, but he persists and puts one food in front of the other each day to be there physically and mentally for his son and for me. He is stronger mentally than any person I know and has a high threshold for discomfort. He has just the right amount of stubbornness and drive that will lead him to live a full and happy life. We thank God for each day and for the lessons that we have learned through this process. We are forever grateful to our family, friends, community, employers and to E.B.C.I. for the opportunity and the support to overcome and not be defined by this diagnosis. Kevin is not a statistic and has much life to live!