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Shanon's Story Hope at Home

Shanon was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a fast-growing cancer of the brain’s supportive tissue, made up of star-shaped cells called astroycytes. According to the American Brain Tumor Association, the median life expectancy is approximately 14.6 months after diagnosis.

Knowing the time frame, Shanon realized how crucial each second was for him and his family. He had a choice to make — one that could possibly determine how his fleeting days on earth were spent. Shanon wanted to enjoy the treasured moments with his wife, Margaret, and his children and grandchildren, going fishing and camping, working and planting in his garden. He wanted to spend his time at or near home, which is why he chose CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System for his care.

When Time Means Everything

In May 2014, Shanon began experiencing headaches, confusion and blurred vision. When the symptoms occurred again the following week, Margaret insisted he call his primary health care provider immediately. His health care provider ordered a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which revealed a tumor the size of a golf ball on his brain.

“I am very fortunate my wife insisted I go to the doctor as soon as I had symptoms,” Shanon shares. “I can’t stress enough the importance of early detection. When your cancer only allows for limited time, every second can mean an extra day, week, month or even year of time spent with your loved ones.”

When James Jean, M.D., radiologist at Radiology Consultants, informed Shanon he had a brain tumor, Shanon’s initial response was to wait a few weeks for surgery.

“Dr. Jean responded adamantly, ‘I strongly advise you not go home,’” Shanon remembers. “I realized then how serious my circumstances were.”

Team Approach

Following his surgery with Marc Smith, M.D., neurosurgeon with Neurosurgical Associates of Texarkana, Shanon was sent to the W. Temple Webber Cancer Center at CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System for radiation followed by chemotherapy. Throughout the treatment process, Shanon’s trust of the Cancer Center staff and overseeing physicians, Howard Morris, M.D., radiation oncologist; J.D. Patel, M.D., medical oncologist; and Hesham Hazin, M.D., medical oncologist/hematologist; expanded with each passing day.

“I commend the physicians for their extensive knowledge and research of glioblastoma,” Shanon shares. “The treatment I received here is comparable to or better than anywhere else because of the one-on-one treatment. I am thankful for the Cancer Center, surgery, ICU and nursing floor staff that cared for me throughout this journey. From my experience working in the medical field as an RN/paramedic for most of my life, I don’t think I could have received better care anywhere else.” 

Because Shanon’s care was provided at CHRISTUS St. Michael, his time has been spent with loved ones, close to home doing what he loves instead of traveling. Receiving care locally also allowed him to continue working full time as a clinical informaticist during his treatments.

Defying the Odds

Now, almost 24 months since diagnosis, Shanon is still going strong. He is working, planning camping and fishing trips with his wife, tending his garden and playing with his grandchildren as often as possible.

“Margaret and I always pray for God’s will, whatever that may be,” Shanon says. “I have realized through this journey that sometimes when we pray for God’s will, we don’t always get the outcome we want, and I may never understand the reasoning behind His will. Through all this, I am reminded of Romans 8:28; ‘And we know that all things work together for good, to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.’ I have to thank my mother for instilling in me at an early age to always follow and trust in God and my whole family for their unwavering support throughout this journey, and I am very thankful for the time God has given me to continue fulfilling His purpose.”