Headaches are a nuisance, but they are not always a reason for concern. In 2007, Jonathan Belcher began experiencing headaches that became severely painful and unusually persistent. Several months after the headaches started, he met with doctors, hopeful for answers and a solution. Shortly after his first appointment, the truth was discovered: the pain was being caused by a large mass growing in his brain. Further tests revealed grade 2-3 astrocytoma, which is a brain tumor that forms from the supportive tissue of the brain. In Jonathan’s alarming case, the mass had grown to the size of a soft drink can on the right side of his brain.
Aggressive and timely treatment is required since this type of tumor has the potential to grow rapidly. In response to this news, Jonathan researched the top neuro-oncologists and treatment teams in the country. In November 2007, he underwent a craniotomy – a surgical operation that temporarily removes a portion of the skull to access the brain. Surgeons were able to remove most of the tumor, but he was advised to seek radiation therapy to treat the remaining portion.
The weeks around his diagnosis and surgery kept Jonathan on the go. Time was spent away from his family and his hometown of Glasgow, Kentucky – where he still lives today. After discussing treatment options with several radiation therapy centers, Jonathan made the decision to go with Barren River Regional Cancer Center. Dr. Tyree, radiation oncologist and medical director of the Center, treated Jonathan every day for 34 days. During that time, he received external beam radiation therapy – a form of treatment that directs radiation at the tumor from a source outside the body, killing cancer cells and shrinking the tumor.
Jonathan recognizes the advantages of having leading edge radiation therapy in close proximity to his hometown. The location allowed him to remain with his family during treatments, lessening the burden of the time and costs of traveling. Cancer treatments are difficult on individuals and families, but being near loved ones can empower a patient and help maintain a positive attitude. “I couldn’t have asked anything better. If I had to receive radiation treatment again, I would definitely go to Barren River Regional Cancer Center,” he said.
Today, Jonathan lives a happy and normal life and spends much of his time with his wife and two children. In addition to his accounting career, Jonathan coaches the girls’ golf team for a local high school. He also enjoys woodworking. Every six to eight months, he visits Barren River Regional Cancer Center for check-ups. And due to the location, his appointments do not have to disrupt his family and work schedule. “If I have any questions or concerns, I always feel that I am able to call Dr. Tyree and discuss possible issues,” he said. In Jonathan’s case, that open communication is so important for his on-going health. He has already defied many odds in his experience with grade 2-3 astrocytoma, and Barren River Regional Cancer Center will continue to support him in that effort.