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Hal’s Story

Hello friends and family,

Hal and I discovered this site thru the Purvis family, an amazing family we met recently, and decided to join the CaringBridge world.  Everybody knows Hal and how wonderful he is, and I'd like to keep this website in honor of Hal and his battle with brain cancer.  While I will probably be the one updating the majority of the time, I know Hal will want to also add in his feelings, thoughts and words.  Don't worry; we will let you know who is writing!  So everybody pretty much knows his battle up until now, but for those who don't, I'll give a little update really quick. 

Hal was serving in Afghanistan when he started getting severe headaches and hallucinations along with depression.  It took a while for the medical team to get him into a MRI scan because of the high trauma flow of other soldiers from the base he was staying at.  Finally, after one morning of excruciating pain which resulted in projectile vomiting, the took him in to get scanned.  On December 6, 2010, the technician told Hal, "There's your problem!  You got a huge tumor in your brain!"  Wow.  Thanks for breaking it lightly.  Hal didn't think that, though.  He said, "Praise God!  Now we know what has been going on, now there is something tangible.  Lets fix it."  I personally will never forget that call.  

So they flew him to San Antonio, TX and on December 16, he underwent an 11 hour craniotomy.  The doctors were able to get 97% of the golf-ball sized tumor which was located in his right temporal lobe (right above the right ear), but further scans had shown another little tumor in the middle of his brain that they weren't able to reach because it was in so much brain tissue.  That day was an incredibly long day, and seeing him after the surgery broke my heart.  He was so swollen!  But oh my goodness, how positive he was!  The very next day until he was discharged, Hal was joking with the nurses, doctors, everybody that came in!

 In January, Hal went through 6 weeks of radiation and chemo simoultaneously, and through it all was ever positive, faithful, and trusting of God's healing hand!  He was definitely what kept me positive!  After that he went though a stronger dose of chemo and that was the most painful thing he said he has ever gone through!  The first night was literally spent for him lying on the bathroom floor.  Thankfully, that was the only night like that, though the rest of the chemo cycles left him nauseous and incredibly fatigued. 

After 4 cycles of chemo, they did another MRI scan and found that not only had the chemo not worked, his tumor had grown significantly!  That day was not a good day.  We also found out that his tumor, a stage IV glioblastoma multiforme (or GBM), was incurable, inoperable, and terminal.  My goodness, that weekend was hard.  Our oncologist, Dr. Schwalier, said we had two options.  Avastin is a treatment, he said, that is used when chemo and radiation have failed.  It's an IV treatment shown to reduce the tumor size and also keep it from growing.  Although it will never fully go away, it can be contained.  He also suggested a clinical trial in Bethesda, Maryland at the National Institute of Health.  NIH, as it will now be called, is the largest cancer research facility in the world, and upon calling, I also found out that about 70% of their patients in the Neurology Branch have GBMs like Hals.  We decided to attend a consultation to at least get some answers and maybe give us better guidance as to our next steps.   At this point, I'm going to go over to the Journal section, because I'm running out of available room here...