This is Brandon Starkoff and his family. He’s an avid brain tumor advocate, volunteer and fundraiser with the American Brain Tumor Association, while also serving as the vice chair of the ABTA Board of Directors. But the sudden emergence of COVID-19 and a brain tumor recurrence has dramatically impacted him and his family.
Not only is the pandemic threatening the health of the brain tumor community, but it has also impacted the daily lives of patients, families and caregivers. While this community is learning how to adapt to this ongoing reality, everyday 900 children and adults will hear the words “you’ve been diagnosed with a brain tumor” every day.
Brandon knows, as he was diagnosed with a recurrence of anaplastic astrocytoma this April, nine years after his initial diagnosis.
“In the midst of sheltering in place and navigating this surreal crisis, this news hit me and my family very hard,” said Brandon. “When our goal is to protect ourselves from this virus and do everything we can to stay away from the hospital, I’m walking into the hospital, once again.”
Last month, Brandon started active treatment as part of a clinical trial, and he’s managing the side effects well. This has encouraged Brandon to keep going.
At his core, Brandon is an advocate for the brain tumor community. He believes it’s important for others to keep going too, while navigating this pandemic and a brain tumor diagnosis. He recognizes that, for those diagnosed with a brain tumor, it’s tough managing it alone and urges those newly diagnosed or experiencing a recurrence to seek support with the ABTA.
View Brandon’s Facebook Live Chat with the ABTA as he discusses his progress.
Keep the ABTA Going
Brandon is also urging support for the ABTA. This pandemic has hampered ongoing fundraising efforts of the ABTA in order to meet its mission.
“Please don’t let this pandemic overshadow the urgent needs of brain tumor patients and the researchers who devote their life’s work to discovering a future where not one life is lost to a brain tumor,” said Brandon. “The ABTA was there for me during my initial diagnosis in 2011, and is here for me again. Their commitment never wavers.”
Help the ABTA continue to fund research and provide programs and services to patients and families who are diagnosed with a brain tumor during COVID-19.