This is Daniel and Craig. They became best friends in high school and remained steadfast buddies through the years. Neither distance nor time could pull them apart, except a brain tumor diagnosis of glioblastoma and a swift loss two weeks after diagnosis. For Daniel, healing meant finding a way to support the brain tumor community. He found it through the ABTA and walking more than a thousand miles in his friend’s memory.
How My Best Friend’s Brain Tumor Diagnosis Changed My Life
I believe the importance of supporting the ABTA and the brain tumor community at-large is ongoing, and doing so has become increasingly personal to me. I first lost my good friend Anna to brain cancer at the age of 39. It was alarming to me in that brain cancer had yet to affect my close family or friends. Later, I would learn of a sister of a good friend and a cousin were diagnosed with brain tumors. But the greatest impact was losing my best friend Craig. When I lost Craig in 2019 at the age of 55, it was less than two weeks from the diagnosis of glioblastoma to his passing.
Craig and I met in high school as he and my childhood friend, Shelley, were dating. We ended up in the same classes and activities together, so quickly became the best of friends. Our friendship was further nurtured by sharing the same faith; having common interests in music and creative endeavors; and just having fun together. Craig was also one of my groomsmen when I married. His military service and his work had him living several states away from me throughout most of our lives, but we always stayed in touch. We would readily pick right up where we left off whenever we got to see one another again. I could spend hours and days writing about him and all that he did and was, and all that he meant to me.
His diagnosis and passing shook me. It was a harsh awakening to the very sudden and progressive nature of brain tumors. But it also spurred me to want to do something, both to honor him and to contribute to the clinical and personal support available to others.
Walking Miles in His Honor
I registered for the 2020 BT5K Walk/Run in Columbus, Ohio, which was set for June. It was going to be a near perfect convergence with my pace for walking 1,064 miles in honor of Craig. This distance measures the length from my front doorstep in Ohio to his resting place in Florida National Cemetery. I started walking every day for Craig, beginning in my neighborhood, including walking paths in community parks or elsewhere during inclement weather for seven days a week, rain, shine or snow.
Completing the Columbus BT5K event would have served as an endpoint in the journey of mourning the loss of one of my best friends, but it was cancelled to ensure the safety of the brain tumor community during the pandemic. I quickly pivoted to walking the final mile past Craig’s childhood home on Memorial Day weekend in May instead.
However, the shift to a virtual walk in September has given me three more months to continue sharing Craig’s story and to fundraise for brain tumor research and programs and services for patients. Now, I have added spurts of running these past several months, and have actually lost 30 pounds. The expanded time to support the ABTA has also changed my plan from walking the entire event to include running all or a portion of the 5K route.
Ways to Remember and Celebrate
During my walks I have listened to songs by bands that Craig loved including Electric Light Orchestra and Asia, and will do so at the BT5K Your Way virtual walk, especially the upbeat songs that he enjoyed. I’ll also use social media, including Instagram, Facebook, and Facebook Live. And I plan to post my first tweet on Twitter. You’ll also see me wearing the ABTA official BT5K Your Way t-shirt!
I am looking forward to participating in my first BT5K on September 13, a defining moment of my ongoing walk for Craig. Interestingly and ironically, the person I most want to tell about my progress is Craig, the person who inspired it all.
You too can help celebrate a loved one impacted by a brain tumor diagnosis by raising critical funds to support brain tumor research and patient services and programs at the BT5K Your Way.
Visit BT5K Your Way to sign up today or for more information.