(Marin Independent Journal (CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) April 19--After Brock Greene's younger son, Spencer, underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor in 2008, he recalls telling people that at least he had another child whom he never needed to worry about. Then, in 2010, his older son, Zach, was also diagnosed with a brain tumor.
"The word surreal definitely captures what has happened to our lives in the last four years," said Greene, who co-manages a small marketing agency in San Francisco.
Doctors were unable to remove all of Spencer's tumor, due to its location. Zach's tumor was removed but the likelihood that the tumor will grow back is high. The median survival rate for relatively slow-growing tumors of this kind exceeds 10 years; but there is no known cure.
Greene and his wife, Pam Baskin, are working furiously to raise money for research on the rare kind of brain tumor that both their sons developed: oligodendroglioma. Greene has personally raised about $175,000 over the past year and has convinced the National Brain Tumor Society to create a special fund for oligodendroglioma research, to which people can contribute.
"I try not to think of it as a race against time," Greene said.
Now the larger Ross Valley community has joined the effort. On Saturday, Fighting For The Cure, a Sir Francis Drake High School student-run organization, will hold a walk-a-thon to raise money for oligodendroglioma research. And individuals and local businesses are chipping in with donations, services and
fundraising events of their own.
Both of Greene's sons are Drake High graduates. Fighting For The Cure was started by Emma Richman, a Drake High junior whose mother is a breast cancer survivor.
"My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 10," Richman said. "For many years I knew I wanted to do something, but I wasn't sure what. What I did know was that I wanted to make a difference."
Greene said after his younger son's tumor was discovered, he was surprised to discover that medicine had relatively little to offer people diagnosed with oligodendroglioma.
"We all see the news flashing by and it seems like, wow, they're discovering this, and they're discovering that. You think that medicine is marching at a rapid pace toward figuring these things out," Greene said.
But he soon found that was not the case with oligodendroglioma. Treatment is limited to retarding the tumor's growth using surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Doctors know little about its cause. And because this type of tumor is so rare, little research was being done on it. Greene is hoping that his efforts will help to change that.
Greene said his sons are proceeding with their lives as if nothing had changed, despite everything they've been through.
"You'd never know," Greene said. "They look great. They play sports."
Spencer, 20, a sophomore at Denison University, suffered several minor seizures in the spring of 2010 and has had to undergo a year of chemotherapy. Zach, 23, will begin work on his doctorate in astrophysics at Columbia University this fall.
Greene said most of the people contributing money to the local fundraising effort don't know him or his sons.
He said, "It's a great example of the essential goodness of people."
Contact Richard Halstead via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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