Published: Nov. 19, 2007
Updated: Sept. 16, 2010
It has been only six months since my brain tumor was discovered and removed, but I feel great. I’m actually a little nervous that I feel so great. I think, “Should anyone be this happy after having part of his brain removed?” But thanks to the treatment I received from everybody at The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke -- the doctors and nurses and social workers -- and my faith in God, I’ve been able to fight this. I don’t know if I could have gone back on the radio if not for those things.
It was a normal day in April for me. I’ve been on Raleigh’s top 40 radio station G105 since I was 25 years old -- 15 years. That day was no different. For more than two hours that morning I was joking around with Kristin and Mike, who work with me on Bob and the Showgram, our morning show. But then, at one point when I tried to speak, I couldn’t make the words come out right. I was getting anxious and the more I tried, the worse I did. We went to a commercial and after about three or four minutes, I felt fine. After the show, I had a meeting with my boss and another similar episode occurred -- this time lasting four to five minutes. I knew what I wanted to say but I couldn’t say it right.
I went home to rest and when I woke up, I felt different. I can’t really explain it. My wife Lu told me I should see my doctor, but I didn’t want to go. The next day, I decided I needed to be checked out. The first day of tests didn’t show anything. Then, the next day I got an MRI. While I was waiting for the radiologist to give me the results, I saw my primary care doctor rush into the building. I knew that couldn’t be a good sign. He told me that I probably had a brain tumor. From that moment to the next day is still a blur.
I went home to be with Lu (my two daughters were away at the time), and we just cried for two days -- the two worst days of my life. On that second day, we didn’t know what else to do, so we went into the bathroom, got down on our knees, and prayed to God. We asked Him what to do and then left it in His hands. Since then, I have not been afraid.
My doctor told me that Duke had world-renowned experts in brain tumors and he suggested I go there for treatment. I felt so grateful to have these top docs right here in the Triangle. At Duke, they told me I had a grade three anaplastic astrocytoma tumor and that I needed surgery.
It was great having the best brain surgeon in the world, Allan Friedman, MD, operate on me. He put Lu and me at ease, and we felt very confident in his work. The coolest part was actually being awake during part of the surgery. First, I was put to sleep. Then, Dr. Friedman started to operate on my skull, removing some of it. He then woke me up, but I was not in any pain at this point. Since the possible side effects from the surgery are loss of vision or speech, we were concerned. After all, I talk for a living! To decrease the risk of loss of speech or vision, the physician assistant James Carter would show me pictures and ask me to identify them during the surgery. Dr. Friedman would stimulate different parts of my brain to see which parts were doing what. Since the brain is not labeled, he had to be sure that he wasn’t operating on parts that may affect thoughts, vision, and speech. Apparently those areas can be in different locations in different people.
Possibly the worst part of my ordeal was waking up after surgery. I didn’t feel great, but I had great people taking care of me. There was my nurse, Nick Jones. He looks like a big motorcycle guy, but he is actually a very cool guy. I don’t know how I would have made it through postsurgery without him. In recovery, I had another great nurse, Tami Lloyd, who helped ease my nerves the night before surgery and helped me to walk after it.
My oncologist is Henry Friedman, MD, and he is just awesome. Amazing that two of the top brain tumor docs in the world have the same name -- and are not related. Henry prescribes what treatments and medicines I still need such as chemotherapy. I also get radiation treatment.
I can’t say how great the staff at Duke is. When I brought the doctors and nurses on my radio show right after returning to the airwaves, I was in tears. I mean, these people saved my life. And they gave us all kinds of help. The social workers explained to Lu and me how we talk to our kids about my tumor and how to deal with our finances.
I have such a great life, family, and job. Since the diagnosis I’ve quit smoking (I’ve been addicted for more than 20 years), started to exercise, and have tried to watch what I eat. I’ve also had an even better relationship with God and my family. Work is even more fun now, and we’re getting our best ratings ever. It’s awesome to say that I have the most listened to morning show in the Triangle, but it’s even better to be able to say that I feel great after having a brain tumor.