Richard Pelletier is a brain tumor cancer survivor. He was first diagnosed with the tumor back in November of 2000. Rich was a registered nurse for 13 years before he started his karate business on Main Street in Lewiston. When he developed symptoms in 1999 and 2000, he knew there were problems. Rich would get numbing sensations in his right arm and the right side of his face. In November 2000 Rich met with doctors in Lewiston who diagnosed him with astrotytoma, grade 1-2. Basically he had an egg size tumor in the left side of his brain that was affecting the right side of his body. After two biopsy procedures, doctors and surgeons in Maine felt the tumor was inoperable and prescribed chemotherapy treatment.

Rich did not give up pursuing more options in treatment – he fought back. In January 2001 Rich found Dr. Black in Massachusetts at Brigham & Momen Hospital, a surgeon specializing in brain tumor removal. Dr. Black took Rich off the chemotherapy drugs, stating the drugs were not helping his condition. His tumor was very slow growing and was now large enough to be affecting brain tissue, thus why Rich was beginning to show symptoms. Surgery was necessary to remove the tumor. The surgery lasted 9.5 hours and Rich was required to stay awake for the entire procedure. Pieces of the tumor were cut away and Rich’s head was scanned numerous times during the procedure. There were chances that pieces of the tumor would remain. Rich was on many different types of drugs before, during and after surgery – his most vivid memory was of a steroid that caused him to have hiccups for two weeks straight and his diaphragm seized at least once.

Part of Rich’s screenings included having MRI’s done every six months. After two years his doctors in Maine thought he could wait five years to have his next MRI. Unfortunately at his next MRI at the end of year in 2007 a new tumor was discovered in the same location. In February of 2008 Rich began radiation treatment. The medications associated with radiation made Rich sick and in some cases even suicidal. Fortunately Rich had great family support and recognized the symptoms himself and sought help. He now must use his left hand and arm as the right side of his body is weak. Rich also must think before he speaks in order to get the words out. Rich’s favorite saying is that “you can have cancer, or you can let cancer have you.” Rich will be at Relay this year to share his story with all of us in his own words.


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