Health, Medical, Brain Tumor, Schwannoma, Resection, CyberKnife, & a U.S.Marine

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April 7th, 2008 · 2 Comments

Speechless…that pretty much sums up how we have been feeling since last week. Speechless followed by thankful. The last two years have been filled with many challenges, difficult days and nights, and lots of worries and stress. It seems like if anything can go wrong it will go wrong and we have not been given any breaks. That was until two weeks ago.

We were at Balboa Hospital for follow up appointments. We had also planned to meet our new counselor advocate. We met with him and he was very patient and pleasant. The three of us sat together and Travis and I told him about everything that we have been going through. He gave us his undivided attention and listened to everything that we had to say. He advised us of different ways to get help and offered us suggestions and advice. He mentioned a program called Computer/Electric Accommodations Program (CAP). Taken from their website, “CAP provides assistive technology and services to people with disabilities, Federal managers, supervisors, IT professionals, and Wounded Services Members. We buy it, we pay for it, we get it to the users, it’s just that simple.” Our Counselor advocate noticed Travis’s memory loss and felt that Travis would benefit by using a PDA. The counselor advocate, Mr. V told us that there were other devices that Travis may benefit by using. Mr. V sated that he would do his best to get Travis a PDA and informed us that he would contact us when he received the device.

After meeting with Mr. V we couldn’t believe that we had met this person who showed so much concern for what we were going through. Mr. V has a huge heart and we are so thankful that we were fortunate enough to meet him. We walked over to the pharmacy to wait him Travis’s prescription. While we were waiting Travis received a call from Mr. V. He said that he wanted to meet us in the pharmacy. Mr. V found us and asked us to fill out a one page application form for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. I filled out the application for Travis and Mr. V explained to us that this organization may be able to get us the same PDA that we discussed minutes ago but that this organization could possibly get it to us quicker. We sat and chatted with Mr. V for a while until Travis’s prescription was ready. Then we went home. This was on a Friday.

Monday morning Travis and I were on base at Travis’s unit doing some paper work for our upcoming Trip to Stanford. When we finished in his unit we got in Travis’s car, and then he got a phone call. It was from a lady named Sondria. She was calling from the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. She introduced herself and asked Travis a little bit about himself and our family. He shared about the last two years; the surgeries, radiation, complications, our family, as well as my resignation from work. She asked Travis for his address and told him that she was sending him a check/grant as well as getting the PDA for him. Travis finished the call with Sondria and explained to me what had happened. Travis was in shock. He was not used to anyone doing anything for him. We went home and had dinner.

The next day we took Victoria to one of her medical appointments. On our way home we check the mail. There was an envelope from the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. Travis became nervous and did not know what to do. We sent Victoria upstairs so that he could open the envelope privately. Travis sat on the sofa with the envelope, he asked me to sit next to him. I patiently waited as he carefully opened the envelope. There was a signed letter from the organization and a check. Travis looked at the amount on the check and tears started to fill his eyes. I looked down at the check and noticed the GENEROUS amount. We were both speechless. About 24 hours after talking to Sondria, a check was in our mailbox. It has been a week today since Travis received this check and typing it today still brings those same feelings back. It is hard to put those feelings to words and it is hard to explain how my body feels. It is unbelievable that someone that we never met could do this for us and it is even crazier that there are many people who donate and contribute to this organization and makes gifts like this possible.

I am so thankful for this check because it means so much to my husband. These last few years have felt like everything was going wrong. After two years of trying so hard and fighting with all that we had left in us, we finally got a break. I can’t ever replay the people who made this possible. I wish that I would have video taped my husband opening the envelope because then everyone would have been able to see the beauty of his happiness.

Travis sent Sondria an email to thank her because he could not get through to her on the phone. She called Travis back on Wednesday morning. Travis thanked her over the phone. We were both still in shock over the generous gift. Sondria spoke with my husband more about our living situation and the sprung another surprise on us. She wanted us to go to Sleep Train, pick out a comfortable mattress, and have the invoice sent to her. Again, Travis got tears in his eyes. He is not used to anything like this. He has been supporting himself since he left home at 18 years old. Everything he has, he has paid for with money he has earned. Large gifts are not something he is used to.

This all seemed too good to be true. After two years of struggle we have been blessed by meeting these wonderful people who have lifted some of the stress off of our shoulders.

On Thursday we went to Sleep Train. We tried out many mattresses in the store and we found one that was like sleeping on clouds. Travis LOVED the mattress. It made me really happy to see him enjoying himself. We had a very nice salesman who we shared our story with. Travis like the salesman so much that Travis took a picture with him. The mattress was set to be delivered on Friday.

Friday Travis and I went to Balboa for some medical appointments. He had to see his oral maxofacial surgeon, the pain management clinic, neuro-opthamology and we met with Mr. V. We went to Mr. V’s office. He presented Travis with the new super cool PDA device. Needless to say we were very thankful for everyone’s generosity. We spoke to Mr. V about other things going on and without hesitation Mr. V offered us more help and advice on some issues that we were dealing with.


I had a hard time writing this entry. I was having a difficult time finding the right words to accurately describe the feelings that we were feeling. The support and generosity still seem unreal to us. I will do my best to accurately update and hopefully I can make a video soon to share with you Travis’s true reaction to daily events.

Please take some time to read about the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. The website tells about who they are and has testimonials about what they have done. I am not trying to pressure anyone but if you are interesting in helping this organization to help others, you can donate by clicking here.

Tags: generous · happy · helping families · Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund · memory · Mr. V · non profit organization · Sondria · thankful

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ivy Wood // May 12, 2008 at 23:36

    I want you to know we are right there with you. My husband, MSgt Wood was ill for 2 years pretty much continuously. Finally, when he returned from Iraq in Sep of 07, he was so sick that we couldn’t even celebrate his homecoming Finally, on 6 Dec, after two years of being told he had “sinus problems” “Migraines” and was “malingering,” and FOUR CAT scans which were ALL mis-read, he was diagnosed with a vestibular schwannoma. Surgery was successful, but he has lifetime deficits from the tumor, because it grew to the size of a golf ball before it was detected.
    Sondria has literally kept our family in a home, as I continue to be out of work to care for my husband and our girls. Please e-mail me, I’m so glad we are not alone on this journey. He has been told he cannot medically retire because he’s at the 20-yr mark anyway. We are at a loss. We’re worried the VA disability will not be sufficient, and his fatigue and dizziness are still so bad that he may not be able to work full-time after his retirement in October of this year.
    I will think of you daily, and I’ve bookmarked this blog. I’m also signing the petition. My husband suffered for years because of the military’s negligence, and even underwent a useless sinus surgery to try to correct his “migraines” and “facial pain” when the whole time, a simple MRI would have detected a brain tumor so large that it had compressed his fourth ventricle to the point that it was suppressing fluid to his brain and affecting his vision..

    Love and light, Ivy Wood

  • 2 Richard Allgower // Jul 8, 2009 at 13:40

    I am about to go through a similar situation. About 2 months ago my face went numb, along with nausea, dizziness, difficulty speaking and swallowing. Just last week (june 23, 09) i was diagnosed with having an epyndenoma on my brain stem the size of a grape. I am having brain srugery to have it removed and get further info if I will need radiation treatment afterwards. I am hoping wither one of you will contact me. I just want my wife to have someone to turn to for info in the worst case scenario.

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