My Story

I'm an active duty AF member working in procurement/contracting. I am a brain tumor (anaplastic astrocytoma) survivor. When I'm not working I am a husband, father of two of the sweetest kids you'll ever meet and a musician. I play guitar and bass in a contemporary worship band at my church.



In August 2005 I visited my military family practice physician complaining of chronic sinus issues and odd tingling sensations on the left side of my face. I had similar issues for years prior and was told it was just common allergies. The physician believed I was having an episode of Bell's Palsy but scheduled me for a CT scan "just to be sure" I didn't have any tumors or cysts in my sinuses. They called me back to the clinic the very day of my CT scan due to a suspicious "spot" discovered on my right temporal lobe. They scheduled me for an MRI the following day which confirmed I had a 2.8 lesion which was, in the doctor’s words, “most likely a low-grade glioma.” They sent me to a military neurosurgeon at Wilford Hall in San Antonio/>/>. Due to the fact that I appeared to be symptom free, the neurosurgeon recommended that we take a "wait and see" approach which would consist of follow-up MRIs every 6 months for 1 year and yearly thereafter if there was no change. After one year of scans he cleared me medically...he actually stated that the mass had not changed (I have since discovered from reviewing my radiology reports that there were some changes to the mass throughout the year...and some edema as well...I must have been in denial...I don't know why my primary care physician and the neurosurgeon failed to notice this...perhaps I was in denial...I still appeared asymptomatic so?). Following a year of scans, the neurosurgeon at Wilford Hall stated that this was probably a scar from when I was born. We all agreed that I could receive annual scan for 5 years. I deployed to Iraq/>/> approx 1 month following this consult (Sept 2006). While in Iraq/>/> I began having sensory/perception issues. I can best describe them as a déjà vu feeling brought on by auditory stimuli. I was having these issues approximately 2-15 times per day which lasted about 10-15 seconds. I initially thought I was having anxiety attacks (I was in Iraq/>/> where insurgents were firing mortars at our base daily.) I managed to cruise through the weirdness, finish my tour honorably and I returned home in February '07. After decompressing for a couple of weeks I still felt that something was out of sorts so I contacted my physician who sent me for an MRI the very next day. He contacted me the afternoon of the MRI to tell me that the mass had increased in size from 2.8cm to 4cm. His demeanor on the phone was as if I would be frightened or saddened by the news. I was actually relieved that my issues were not make-believe/anxiety. The doctor wanted to send me immediately (next day) back to the neurosurgeon in San Antonia. My children go to school…there's more logistic hurdles to overcome than just getting up and driving out to San Antonio/>/>. Anyhow, I told the doctor that I was not comfortable just driving blindly out to San Antonio/>/> without a telephone consult with the neurosurgeon first. My doctor reluctantly agreed. I could sense from his tone of voice that he was very upset with me. I imagine he believed I was about to die from this issue. Well, my physician and I both attempted to set up a voice consultation with the neurosurgeon to no avail. Finally, I received a referral to see a civilian neurosurgeon in Lubbock/>, Texas/> (1-1/2 hour drive from Clovis/>/>). I don't actually know who put this referral in for me (divine intervention?)…no one from my clinic called me…I discovered the referral on my HMO's (Tri-west) website. After verifying that I was authorized to see this surgeon, my wife and I gathered up all of my prints and radiology reports and headed to Lubbock/>/>. After looking at my prints, this neurosurgeon stated that I should have never deployed to Iraq/>/> and that most of the growth in the mass occurred in the 1st year after it's discovery. He stated that this was definitively a tumor, “most likely a low-grade glioma (astrocytoma).” The tumor was not just in my right temporal lobe but extended around the sylvian fissure into my insula anteriorily. He told me that he could not perform the surgery with his intracranial navigation equipment and he recommended against radiation/gamma knife. His rationale was that I am too young and the tumor looks to be too low grade for such aggressive treatments. Additionally, he stated that the radiation could cause me problems later in life. Finally, he stated that a biopsy was needed but that he preferred that the biopsy be performed at the center I would be getting treatment at (possibly during resection). The Lubbock Neurosurgeon also stated that my déjà vu issues were classic signs of seizures of the insula/temporal lobe. He referred me to a neurologist who prescribed Lamictal to control my seizures. Continued in my journal...

Feed

John Shields posted a new journal entry.

I just returned from M.D. Anderson and I have received another stable report...I am truely blessed. This particular trip was the most spiritually humbling I have ever ... Read more

John Shields signed John's Guestbook.

Can't update my Journal anymore...don't know why. Tomorrow is the 4 year anniversary of my surgery...still working...still healthy...praise God!!!   Read more

Joannie McCutcheon signed John's Guestbook.

Hey John, I was reading your past journals and I watched the vid. again at uTube. The guitar noodling is totally awesome!  Hope you are still playing.  I just love ... Read more

Joannie McCutcheon signed John's Guestbook.

Hi John, Just thought I'd drop in and say hello and find out how you are.  I hope that things are going well for you.  Sorry no Peter peppers.  They are really hard to ... Read more

Robert Bigler signed John's Guestbook.

Hi John, It was good to read your positive update. What you said about people sweating the small stuff is so true. I wish you all the best, and I'm sure your FDP freinds ... Read more

Joannie McCutcheon signed John's Guestbook.

Hey John, I am so delighted with your news. You sound so good. Keep on playing that guitar. You reminded me that I hadn't updated my Caringbridge for a while so lots ... Read more

John Shields posted a new journal entry.

I just returned from M.D. Anderson and I have received another stable report...I am truely blessed. This particular trip was the most spiritually humbling I have ever ... Read more

Nyckie Gorman signed John's Guestbook.

Awesome!!!! Prayers are working! So glad that it was clear and there is nothing there. Keep up that good work! Read more

John Shields posted a new journal entry.

Happy Holidays! I failed to update this site in November...I had a clean scan...the next scan will be in February. 2008 has rounded up to be a good year of healing and ... Read more

Nyckie Gorman signed John's Guestbook.

Hey John it was nice to hear from you and know you are doing ok. I hope the move went well. Take care and keep in touch! Read more

Show more recent activity