Karen & Mike’s Story

In January of 2018, Mike had a grand mal seizure and was diagnosed with GBM (wildtype, MGMT negative), he was 58.

Throughout his 2-1/2-year battle with brain cancer he never once complained or lamented his luck. Together we lived and loved our way through every treatment and every setback.

We enjoyed the never-ending company of family and friends, we travelled, renewed our wedding vows, made plans we both knew would never come to fruition and in the weeks prior to his passing we virtually celebrated his 60th birthday on a 50 person zoom call.

Mike was the youngest of 9 children, had 2 sons, a grandson, and 20+ nieces and nephews. His smile, sparkling eyes, and laughter were infectious. He loved people and people loved him back — no one more than me.

During our 25 years together, the past two were unquestionably the most loving of our lives. We never spoke of death — we only spoke of love.

What has been my saving grace, and was OUR saving grace, is that we lived the last 2-1/2 years without regret. I pray you all live the same, and that everyone here lives long and amazing lives.

But if that isn’t in the cards, then you owe it to yourself to make the time you have the most incredible and most loving time of your life.

— Karen Bruett, with Mike on Valentine’s Day (above) and at their wedding vow renewal (below)

GBM’s Life Lessons

STAY PRESENT – don’t get ahead of yourself except when it comes to treatment. Always have that next treatment option ready to go should the previous one fail.

LIVE – in-between treatments figure out what you can handle and then DO IT! Travel. Eat. Play. Laugh. Spend time with family and friends.

SAY “NO” TO FEAR – It will eat you alive, so just say “no”. It’s really not a super-heroic thing to do, it just requires resolve.

QUALITY OF LIFE MATTERS – There are lots of alternative treatments, medical opinions, and clinical trials. We tried them all. But at the end of the day, if the treatment renders life unsatisfying then it isn’t worth it. Period. These are difficult decisions but the right decisions. Life matters. Living matters more.

GATHER YOUR LOVED ONES – The end is impossible to predict, for any of us. but make sure that you spend quality time with whoever you or your loved one cares for most in this world. Don’t focus on goodbye. Focus on “I love you.”

STAY HOME – Caretakers, this is so hard. But Covid makes it necessary and hospice makes it bearable (barely). Create a peaceful, quiet sanctuary – a space, for when the time comes, to cross over. Light candles. Play music. Talk and talk and talk. Hold hands. Kiss. Love until you can love no more.

I share this because I have been on both sides. The “lets fight-like-hell” side, and the “I-wish-I-could-do-more-sweetheart” side. But in the end, what has been my saving grace, and was OUR saving grace, is that we lived the last 2-1/2 years without regret. I pray you all live the same, and that you live long and amazing lives. But if that isn’t in the cards, then you owe it to yourselves to make the time you have the most incredible and most loving time of your life.

— Karen Bruett, October 2020