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Grant Winner: Ben Wilson

This post is written by his mother Tricia, who nominated him for one of our grants.

Ben Wilson, now 30 and from Cincinnati, was a healthy, happy, HILARIOUS 26-year-old when he had a seizure in October 2019. We went to the hospital by ambulance where after a series of tests, the scan showed a 4 centimeter lesion on his right frontal lobe. He had surgery five days later and was diagnosed with Astrocytoma Level II. Gulp.

Ben did really well in recovery with MRIs every six months.

And then it was watch and wait.

The MRI at 18 months showed new growth. His second surgery was in May 2021. This time the surgeon removed his whole right frontal lobe and recovery was much harder the second time. He had clear scans until December 2022. But new growth is now on the left side of his brain. Since it crossed the corpus collosum, surgery is not an option. He finished 32 rounds of radiation and chemo will be for nine more months.

I could fill 100 pages with funny stories. Finding humor while fighting brain cancer for the third time is a gift. And Ben has that gift.

When I got to the hospital after that first seizure, the nurse went back to tell him I was there to see him in the ER. He told her, straight faced, "Please tell her I don’t want to see her.”

The nurse was like, “Oh, OK. Sorry.” He said, “No, I do want to see her. I just want you to TELL her I don’t. It will be so funny.”

The nurse was like, “Are you sure? What if she doesn’t think it is funny?” He said he was sure I would find it funny.

She came out and said, “He is back there but told me to tell you he doesn’t want to see you.”

I laughed loudly and answered, “Cool. Please tell him I am not here to see him. I’m here to see other patents.”

She looked at me like I was nuts, went back and told him that. He laughed harder than I did and asked her to being me back. We laughed so hard! Now, every time I go to a follow-up appointment with him, some version of “I don’t want her here” or" she can’t come back here” comes up. He then tells the original story and we all laugh about it! One of his oncology nurses tells us at each visit we are his favorite family!

A week later, in the recovery room after his first surgery, my family and I went back to see him. He had asked before surgery to have orange Gatorade bought in to him afterwards. I went to find it in the cafeteria but there wasn’t orange. Every other color but not orange. The nurse in recovery was right there and watching everything he did and said. My sister said, “Ben, you look so good. I can’t believe it? You JUST had brain surgery!”

He gasped, “WHAT??!?!? I had brain surgery?”

The nurse was startled and started to explain it to Ben. She told him they had just talked about it and asked if he knew that he was in the recovery room? She was starting to panic. I see him looking at the YELLOW gatorade in my hand and he said loudly, “I just had brain surgery. YOU couldn’t even get me an orange Gatorade?”

The recovery nurse put her hand to her chest, “You scared me! I thought you were having a stroke because you had just told me you knew you had brain surgery. Jeez.”

Ben has had long beautiful hair for years. As he started to lose it while in radiation, he decided to just get it all shaved. He came home to show me.

I said, “Oh, you look great! Your head shape is lovely.” He just stared at me and said, “Don’t lie. I look like a penis.”

We were having breakfast a couple of weeks ago and I was talking about some of the possible side effects that I had read about with radiation. I was droning on about yucky things like: swelling, aphasia, cognitive issues, etc. I realize that, as I am talking, he is staring off behind my head. Then he picks up an empty coffee cup, holds it to his ear and says, “Hello?” In a split second my terror turns to laughter because I realize he is just kidding.

There isn’t one damn funny thing about cancer. Not one. But Ben’s ability to find humor and make even the most serious medical professionals laugh, is something that I will treasure always.

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