Had it not been for the persistence of a co-worker, Jeremy Paterno might be living a different journey.
It was the first Tuesday in 2020 when Jeremy Paterno, a photographer at Mayo Clinic in Florida, began noticing some small oddities.
“That day, I had a couple flighty moments where my right hand was off, like when I got in the car, but I missed the ignition when trying to insert the key,” says Jeremy, a father of two girls, who has worked on the Florida campus since August 2011.
Over the next two days, his symptoms continued. “I thought it was vertigo as my spatial awareness was off. I’d reach for something and be off by a few inches,” Jeremy recalls.
At the insistence of a colleague, he made a lunchtime appointment with his primary care physician. That weekend, Jeremy found himself inside an MRI tube. By the following Tuesday, he was undergoing brain surgery.
Doctors had identified a golf ball-sized mass in Jeremy’s brain. Almost overnight he became one of the 240,000 people worldwide diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive type of brain cancer.
As Jeremy began chemotherapy and radiation, he continued to work, though at home as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.
He received good news at his six-month scan and the family hoped to celebrate the holidays together. But glioblastomas are tenacious.
Just before Christmas, Jeremey had a seizure. The tumor had returned. More chemotherapy followed but the tumor still grew. Jeremy underwent an awake craniotomy in March 2021. He also enrolled in a clinical trial but, unfortunately, the tumor continued to persist.
Side effects from the medications brought more challenges, affecting Jeremy’s speech and making it difficult some days for him to enjoy activities with his family.