Join me on my faith walk to beat brain cancer!
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11
As a loving father, husband, son, brother, cousin and friend, I’m coming to you seeking your support. The saying is that “it takes a village to raise a strong man,” and if you are reading this I count you as a direct or indirect member of the village that raised me. I would not be who I am without you. Today, I am asking my village to come together to lift up not just me, but also my wife, Darla, and my daughter, Savannah.
Some of you know me as a man of faith as a fellow member of Metropolitan Baptist Church; some of you know me as a dedicated employee of Tulsa Public Schools; and some of you know me as an advocate for Black Tulsans in my capacity as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc and board member for the The Met Cares Foundation. Still others of you know me through college or my time working on Wall Street and Washington,DC, and a select few of you know me dating back to the Southside of Minneapolis riding bikes and playing at Pearl Park and McRae Park, through my extended family in North Tulsa, or those legendary days on Nicollet Island as DeLaSalle Islanders.
All of you know me as a steadfast friend, a loving family man, and a relentless advocate for children and families. My most fervent hope and dream is that my daughter - and her peers and the generations who follow - have equitable access to nothing but exceptional learning and experiences both in- and outside the classroom.
I come to you humbly in need of your love,kindness, and encouragement.
On May 13, my life changed abruptly and irrevocably: after being rushed to the hospital following a small seizure, subsequent CT and MRI scans found multiple lesions on my brain. Following a battery of tests, I was released from the hospital to await my results. At the time, my health seemed to return to normal; I was cleared to return to work, travel to be a groomsman in one of my best friends’ weddings, resume my community involvement, and - of course -continue loving my wife and seven month old daughter.
However, in early June, everything slowly began to change and I found myself back in the hospital following days of extreme tiredness. By the time I got to the hospital, my neurological functioning was beginning to decrease as Darla and my pastor sat with me in the emergency room. After hours in the ER, I was able to finally get an MRI scan and was moved to a bed. A couple hours later, we found out that my brain lesions, now considered tumors, had grown significantly in size and there was a substantial amount of swelling that was shifting my brain’s midline. This was all that was affecting my nervous system and could have resulted in me being in a coma had my wife Darla not acted quickly enough.
Thanks to the expert care and support of the medical team in Tulsa, within three days, Darla and I traveled to Cedar Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California to receive the specialized neurological care that my condition required. Darla and I were fortunate to be joined by my mother and brother in Los Angeles as we prepared for me to undergo brain surgery on Friday, June 18. During the four-hour surgery, doctors found four tumors on the brain and were able to safely remove two of those tumors without disrupting the areas of my brain that would affect my day-to-day functioning and my ability to move the left side of my body. In the days following the surgery, the Cedar Sinai Medical team worked quickly to analyze the tumors and develop a treatment plan.
On Wednesday, June 23rd - Darla’s and my second wedding anniversary - we received the official diagnosis that I have glioblastoma - a rare brain cancer that can grow extremely quickly. Because of the risk of impairment to cognitive and motor functioning, the remaining tumors in my brain will be treated with targeted radiation and chemotherapy. The timing of my treatment is critical to prevent further growth of the tumors, and my radiation therapy will begin on Monday, June 28. The severity of my condition requires unique, specialized treatment and technology that is not available in Oklahoma, so my radiation will begin in Los Angeles and then I will be transferred to Oklahoma for the remainder of my treatment.
I shared that my life has changed abruptly and irrevocably, but the reality is that my condition has upended the lives of my entire family. Darla is here with me in Los Angeles, her parents are caring for Savannah back home in Tulsa, and my mother and brother are making plans to support Darla and I when we return. Additionally, the specialized care that I need from Cedar Sinai is out of network, and we are facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical fees and related expenses.
Darla, Savannah, and I need our village more than ever before to help carry us - spiritually, emotionally, and financially - through this incredibly difficult time and to help me focus entirely on my treatment and recovery.
Darla, our families and I truly appreciate all your support, encouraging words and prayers.My anchor scriptures are Jeremiah 29:11 and 2 Timothy 1:7:
“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declared the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
It helps to make my path towards recovery a little easier knowing I have friends, community members and family like you walking with me on his faith walk to victory over cancer.
HOW TO HELP ME & MY FAMILY
We are a family of deep faith. We firmly believe that prayer works, and we feel that prayers of the people near and far as they lift us up through this season. In addition to prayer, there are a number of ways you can help us with the rapidly accumulating cost of my medical care and our travel and lodging expenses, and to help us prepare for the potential of lost wages for both Darla and myself across the coming months.
Our church, The Metropolitan Baptist Church, in Tulsa has set up a fund to support me, Darla, and Savannah. Your donation is tax deductible and every dollar will go directly to my family. To make a donation, visit tinyurl.com/QLCare to choose either a one-time or recurring donation and select “Benevelent Health Care” as the fund. Darla will manage this fund and keep the members of our village updated on our progress.
As in many things in life this victory will take a team effort and I humbly ask you to join me on team Walking by Faith in Victory. This is but the beginning of a process that I hope will create opportunities to save lives who face unexpected health challenges throughout the Tulsa Community.
Follow along with me as I share my journey.