Brett’s Story

At the age of 21, I felt like I was getting my life squared away and making the best of every day while also looking towards the future. December the 13th of 2007 should have been a Friday so that it would coincide with how seemingly bad my luck has been over these past fifteen years, but it wasn’t. It was a Thursday. I had just gotten off shift at a group home in Raleigh, NC and was following a coworker to her apartment in Durham. Being 21 at the time and fairly new to the city meant that I chose not to wear a seatbelt while also being inquisitive about my surroundings. I had taken my eyes off the road for no more than a few seconds before turning my attention to the road. Those five seconds, just like these past fifteen years, I will never be able to get back. In the time that I had taken my eyes off the road, my coworker had come to a complete stop at a traffic light and there wasn’t anything I could do to prevent a collision. In the ensuing accident, my head clipped the steering wheel and I incurred a concussion from the impact. Upon the advice of the responding police officer and my friend, I was taken to be looked after at Duke University. A CT scan was ordered and the attending physician came in not long after I was finished to inform me that I had a mass on my brain and an MRI in the morning would be ran to confirm the results. A brain tumor, a grade II Oligodendroglioma sitting on the left side of my frontal lobe to be exact. As things were, I was scheduled to have the tumor resection eleven days later on Christmas Eve with an estimated eight weeks for recovery. The crash and tumor were independent of each other and it took several years to appreciate the fact that it was caught when it was caught.

Over the course of these past fifteen years, I have truly struggled. My world has been completely upended on itself and I have finally hit a point that I never thought I would get to in my life. I spent the first decade after being diagnosed having a truly difficult time adjusting to my new normal while also not really accepting how different my life had become. With enough pain, I finally got to the point where I accepted things for what they were, but was still ions away from being on the right path.

Deep in a brisk North Alabama September evening in 2016, I woke up at the oddest of hours and quickly realized that I had a seizure while sleeping. This added a new set of issues for me going forward. Another five years passed and I was still struggling to get by, but at least I was making headway. I found myself at a point in life where I felt good enough to finish up my college education. At the beginning of the Fall semester of 2021 while beginning my student-worker position at Lamar in Beaumont, I had the first of several breakthrough seizures. I was already skirting by with hardly any breathing room. The college allowed me to drop my classes which forced me to resign my part-time position in order to focus on my health. I had seen my neurologist on November 2nd, 2021 at MD Anderson and believed it was in my best interest to go ahead and schedule a consultation appointment or two with a neurosurgeon and a radiologist there at MD Anderson. Unfortunately, due to my ongoing seizure activity and having very limited resources, I was unable to follow through with those appointments. My breakthrough seizures decreased in frequency after reducing the stresses that came with being a student. I decided I would try to continue on with classes part-time and figure out how to move forward with everything. These seizures finally stopped in June of this year and I am unsure of why. About halfway through this fall semester, I found myself facing a financial catastrophe. My inability to pay for my rent, car insurance, my most basic needs, for any of my appointments an hour and a half away, and struggling with the costs of my prescriptions led me to dropping my health insurance. I took someone up on their idea and filed an application for SSDI and that is still ongoing. I find myself homeless, struggling to get food, unable to get the Vimpat to keep my seizures at bay, unable to afford to drive out to Houston for a MRI and sessions with my neurologist have me believing that everything that I have done and fought for has been a waste. It has been fifteen years since I was diagnosed and had my brain tumor resection. I am far worse off today than I have ever been. I have connected with a variety of organizations over the past few years and they’ve provided me with negligible assistance or support. It has been 13 months since I last saw my neurologist and it has been about 6 months since I ran out of my Vimpat. I am staying at a friend’s place of business since I found myself in this truly dystopian nightmare. At the end of the day, I ultimately need to be seen by my neurologist again at MD Anderson, but have no means to do so. Sadly, I have an immense amount of needs, but that seems to be the most pressing.

I am seriously at the end of the line right now and am well past the point of being desperate. I have been reaching out to places like the Brain Tumor Network and a handful of other organizations over the past few years. This will truly be an anniversary that I wish I could forget because of how isolated I am. I have no family and it seems that there really isn’t many people out there that give a damn about me and it is during a very depressing time of the year for me. I struggle every single day and at the end of the day I really wish someone would hear me begging for help. I have attached the application for your program and truly hope y’all can help me out. I was very surprised that I hadn’t run across your program beforehand because I feel like I have lifted every stone and checked under every bed for resources. I appreciate y’all taking the time to read this and am truly hoping y’all will be able to provide some sort of assistance! Should there be anything else y’all need for me to upload, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Mankind board members talked with Brett and were able to get him insurance so that he could see his doctors and get the prescriptions he needs. Thanks to Mankind donors, Brett has a new outlook on life and knows that people do care about him.