May 24th started as a regular Sunday morning, I had just gotten back from a trip and was catching up with my dad, stepmom and younger sister telling stories while drinking a cup of coffee. Our light and giggly conversations about the weather and our dinner plans for that night quickly took a turn as I heard the words, “there is something we have to tell you.” Before I knew it, I was wrapped in my dad’s arms, squeezing my younger sister, and crying harder than I ever had. My dad, my role model, my superhero had been diagnosed with brain cancer. I ran to my phone after hearing the diagnosis of Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), having never heard of it, and discovered it is a rare and terminal brain cancer. The statistics I read kept running through my mind: ”25% of GBM patients survive over a year” and “glioblastoma is resistant to conventional therapies,” it felt like a horrible nightmare. Thankfully, a success occurred a few weeks later when my dad had almost all the tumor removed in an awake brain surgery in Boston. For the rest of the summer, my Sundays, and almost every day of the week, became much more than the light giggles and coffee. My normal every day now consisted of being consumed with the emotions of anticipatory grief, becoming a “keto chef” to create a sugar-free diet for my dad (which I also have taken part in) and driving my dad to radiation at Johns Hopkins at Sibley Memorial Hospital. Weekends often consisted of travel to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for tumor resection and a vaccine and immunotherapy as part of a clinical trial. My multitasking, quick thinking and very active dad is still with me, but he does experience symptoms that make these things more difficult including less energy, inability to react as quick and aphasia. My family has been blessed with resources such as amazing doctors and their care teams including those of Dr. Antonio Chiocca and Dr. David Reardon, the incredible cancer fitness program Livestrong in Easton, MD, weekly keto meals from Green Chef and lots of love and support to get us through every week.

It unfortunately occurred to me upon his diagnoses, that although the most common brain tumor, glioblastoma multiforme is a largely underfinanced cancer that has made discovering a cause and manufacturing a cure an impossible process. As someone who has long been a woman of action including taking initiative to raise awareness for suicide prevention and build a team for DC’s suicide prevention walk after losing a close friend, I knew I had to do something about GBM and these statistics. It began with an idea to host a charity event to raise money and awareness for through an event. Using my organization and planning skills, as I currently work for a wedding planner, to good use, it quickly became “The Iron Man Gala.” The cocktail attire gala, named after my dad who is my superhero (and whose favorite superhero is Marvel’s Iron Man) is planned to occur in Bethesda on May 19th. As I became more invested and decided I wanted this to be an annual event along with more projects to help others, I decided to apply for entity status with the IRS. My organization, if approved, will be the Gray for Glioblastoma Foundation. Our mission: to raising money and awareness to help glioblastoma become a treatable condition as well as to develop a positive and hopeful space for those affected by GBM.

For more information on the foundation or the event, donation requests, ticket sales, etc.:

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