Thanks so much for visiting our page! We are going to be using CaringBridge versus Facebook for health updates on Zach, because I know the entire world of social media does not want to know everything, so if you would like to stay up to date with our story and his journey through this battle, please follow us on CaringBridge! We appreciate all the support, love, thoughts and prayers from each and every one of you. -Tiffany, Zach and Landon
Zach was first diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2010. He had a seizure at our apartment and ended up going to the hospital and having another seizure just after arrival. An MRI revealed what was then diagnosed as a "fatty benign mass." Zach was placed on seizure medication and kept on 6 month MRI monitor. He went through 3 years of MRI's with no growth, not even a millimeter - we were even more convinced that it was just a fatty mass that had been there his whole life. Zach went about a year without an MRI, and in mid 2014, Zach herniated a disc in his back from golfing [ imagine that :) ] - when he visited his neurosurgeon to consult about the back surgery, they suggested they scan his head just because it hadn't been scanned in a while. After the scan, it was revealed that what was once thought of as a "fatty mass" had tripled in size and essentially went from the size of a nickel to the size of a golf ball. Zach received his back surgery in August of 2014 but we decided to wait until after our wedding in December 2014 for him to get the brain surgery; if there were any problems or complications, we wanted to be married first. Zach's first brain tumor resection was December 29, 2014, just 16 days after we were married. We rang in the New Year in the ICU but all things considered, we hoped we were somewhat out of the woods. Pathology diagnosed this tumor as a low-grade glioma grade 2. No chemotherapy or radiation was needed, and it was a "watch and wait" situation.
A diamond in the rough came in April 2015, when we welcomed our only son, Landon.
Zach received a follow up MRI at six months and revealed no regrowth. In December 2015, his next follow up MRI revealed regrowth of 20 mm in the same tumor cavity as before. We were disappointed but hopeful that with another surgery, this could be it. Zach's neurosurgeon said that this time likely would require some preventative treatment after the surgery [radiation and chemotherapy] as generally when a tumor recurs, there are cancerous cells present. Zach recieved his second brain tumor removal surgery May 23, 2016. Pathology on this tumor revealed a change in grade from low-grade glioma to grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma. An astrocytoma is a star shaped tumor with finger-like projections that often make it hard for surgeons and doctors to pin point exactly where it is; although they are able to do gross mass resections, they almost certainly don't get everything.
Zach began his cancer treatments at Nebraska Cancer Specialists in July of 2016. He did 33 radiation treatments and high doses of Temozolamide, a chemotherapy pill often prescribed for anaplastic astrocytoma tumors. He only received one round of treatment as his doctors said this was the "standard of care" for this type of tumor and cancer. Zach had MRI scans every 3 months following the conclusion of treatment. Every scan was clear for almost the first year, we were thrilled.
October 24, 2017, Zach had a one-year follow up scan which revealed regrowth in the tumor cavity and in addition, it revealed a large tumor growing on the corpus callosum, which is the nerve that divides the left and right brain hemispheres. Zach's neurosurgeon recommended another resection, however the tumor on the corpus callosum was inoperable, as it is just not an area that can ever be touched during an operation. We knew that following the surgery, more chemotherapy and radiation would be needed, especially to contain the inoperable portion. We were heartbroken but took this just like everything else, as something we could beat.
Monday morning, December 4, 2017, Zach had his third brain tumor resection. Everything went well in surgery and everything that looked like tumor that could be removed, was removed. Yesterday afternoon, our dear neurosurgeon, Dr. Stephen Doran came in to talk with us. With the most broken of hearts, it was revealed that pathology determined Zach's tumor has advanced to a grade IV glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer. We are truly, absolutely and totally devastated. I will spare you the statistics for glioblastoma's, because I will not accept those stats and that prognosis; but you're welcome to educate yourself on cancer.org.
It is going to be a very long, uphill battle for Zach and for our families, but we will not give up, we will not accept that there is nothing we can do. December 29th, we are meeting with a new head and neck oncologist, Dr. Nicole Shonka from Nebraska Medicine. January 3rd, we will be traveling up to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN to meet with neuro-oncology up there as well. Dr. Doran is hopeful that with Zach's age and overall health otherwise, that his body will take to treatment well and hopefully we can destroy any statistics associated with this monster disease.
We have been so fortunate to have amazing family, friends, coworkers and even perfect strangers behind us on this journey and we hope that you will continue to follow our story and support in any way you can. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
Tiffany, Zach and Landon Pomfret
Note: Our daycare provider and wonderful friend, Kristin Welch started a Go Fund Me for medical expenses, travel expenses for Mayo and other expenses that may arise - you can find the link here: https://www.gofundme.com/zachs-medical-travel-fund
) --- it is also under "How to Help" - There is also a Meal Train sign up on Facebook - the link can be found here: https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/5novzy
- We can't thank everyone enough for their support and willingness to give during this holiday season.