Jerry Dunaway’s Story, Part 3

Codi is a brain cancer warrior and offering her experience to the Chris Elliott Fund blog. She is a patient advocate for her brother Jerry Dunaway who at 29 years old was diagnosed with Glioblastoma brain cancer. Please join us and follow her story and experience as a patient advocate and brain cancer warriorRead about Codi and Jerry’s story in Part 1 and Part 2 of their journey.

My experience with my neurosurgeons:

My experience with Jerry’s neurosurgeons were not positive, I walked away feeling that they are they are scared of GBMs (Glioblastomas).  No fault of theirs, I am scared too.  My father, a man, who doesn’t go to the doctor looks at me and says “Doctors don’t know everything,” and this was what I needed to hear; now I had some hope.  We met with oncology, Dr. Kurt Tauer from West Clinic who said, “If you can get him strong and home, we will help you fight.  Nothing is impossible.”  I love this man so much because he never thought it was impossible.  He never gave up trying to help Jerry.

Jerry Turns 30

Now Sunday, 5 days after his seizure and surgery, it’s December 11th, Jerry’s 30th birthday.  He had been so excited about this birthday, he had big plans.  Little did we know, he would be in a coma, and we would have a party for him in ICU!

Jerry finally woke up. 

We were moved to another room and he had to have a feeding tube put in because the ventilator broke down his epiglottis.  We celebrated Christmas and New Year’s there.


Then we brought Jerry home on January 6, 2012.  He had lost some strength on his right side, but it wasn’t gone yet.  He had a feeding tube, until we could get him strong enough to pass the swallowing test.  WE DID IT.  He could walk, he could talk and finally he could eat.  Jerry did not have insurance, so no one would touch us, but that’s a whole other subject.

Jerry’s Treatment

Jerry began radiation with a super strong dose of Temodar.  And the MRI results gave us good news, it’s shrunk YAY!  As we continued this treatment, his body was tired and could not handle the strong dose so the doctors stopped treating him with Temodar. The second round of MRI’s did not give as good of news as the first time around. And we go to Duke to the Preston Tisch Brain Tumor Center, because we are not ready to give up. But when the insurance got the treatment plan, they refused to approve it.

So we headed home…

Jerry’s oncology team  took some of the ideas here and made a new plan.  He started Temodar and Avastin. The latest MRI showed that it’s not shrinking but its not growing.  That’s a win. It did not last long so then he tried Cp11 and Avastin, with no positive results.  Then it was time for the talk.  The “you have fought and done everything you can, but there are no other options.”  What do you do with this information?  How do you process that you are going to die?

My brother Jerry

Let me tell you one thing. My brother to date has fought this GBM and now a second one for fifteen months.  It might take his body, but it will never take his spirit.  He IS a Survivor.  He never let it get him down; he has never let it put him in a bad mood.  HE never let it stop him from being him.  Don’t get me wrong there have been plenty of tears too but it’s not the cancer, it’s that he will not be here.  He will always be a survivor to me because he refused to be a victim.  I am so proud of him, and what kind of man he is because true character is shown in the face of adversity.

Do you have a story to share with your brain cancer/brain tumor or a loved one’s experience? Email us at [email protected]