Friday, May 3, 2019

Mom encourages community to "Go Gray" in May

By Julie Brown

May is the month for celebrating moms on Mother’s Day and on Memorial Day we honor those who died in active military service.  It is my hope to bring more awareness to a cause I am passionate about; brain cancer.

My daughter, Jessica Heath, passed away in January at the age of 34. She battled brain cancer twice and was an advocate for the National Brain Tumor Society. Jessica went to Washington D.C. to further support funding for more research and treatment options, but it is too late for her to benefit from either of these.  Jessica did make it past the five-year survival rate estimated for 36% of women diagnosed, however, it was just after the five-year mark when her tumor returned, losing her life at such a young age.

It is estimated that over 16,000 people will die from brain cancer in 2019.  The most common brain tumors in adults are:

*Meningiomas, a tumor that forms on membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord just inside the skull makes up about 37% of primary brain tumors.
*Gliomas, a type of tumor that starts in the glial cells of the brain or the spine and makes up 81% of malignant brain tumors that include both astrocytomas and glioblastomas (two forms of brain cancer.)

There has been little change in treatment options in the past 30 years and there still is no cure. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are the most common treatments for brain tumors depending on their type and grade (severity measured by 1, 2, 3 or 4). Not all brain tumors are malignant (deadly). Much depends on the location within the brain. Some non-malignant brain tumors do affect long term quality of life if they produce deficits in the patient’s ability to care for themselves but often can cause death, leaving behind loved ones including children who grow up without a parent.

May is Brain Tumor/Cancer Awareness month.  Like October’s Breast Cancer pink ribbon, I hope that more people will share information about the Gray ribbon and ultimately find a cure for brain cancer.

If one is interested in donating to brain cancer awareness or to help find a cure, one can participate or donate to the Bob Burns Memorial 5K run/walk that will take place in Augusta on Sunday, July 29 from 10 a.m. to noon. For more information: 


Julie Brown is a local writer and author of “Building a Life.” She blogs about her journey as a mother who is trying to live fully without her daughter.  Find her blog at

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