Keeping our celebration of 10 years going, we’d like to introduce John F. His lead trainer, Annie, says that John is one of the sweetest guys she’s ever met. “He was always a hard worker, and his up-for-anything attitude proved his dedication to his recovery.

 


John’s 2016 was shaping up to be a fantastic year. At 29 years old he had a career as a software engineer and had just purchased his first home. His life took a turn in May of that same year when the family physician called him in to review a recent MRI. John had been experiencing migraines and some unsteadiness, and the MRI results held the unthinkable. John, just making his own way in life, was now faced with brain surgery to remove a tumor the size of a large lemon. Worry began to set in when he found out the location of the tumor (near his brain stem) could have detrimental effects on so many of his vital functions. Sleep, breathing, balance, coordination, vision, speech, fine motor skills, and swallowing were all at risk. John went into surgery an ordinary 29 year-old and came out with a body and life entirely different.

“First, I want to give God all the glory! I am a miracle,” says John. During his surgery, his family was addressed by the surgeon. The outlook was bleak, and the family was told that if John woke up from surgery a ventilator and other life support measures were likely necessary. Much to their surprise, when they were finally allowed to see John in the ICU the Force family felt that their prayers had been answered. He was awake, alert, speaking, and had no trace of life support. 

Although John had beaten most of the odds, he hadn’t come out of surgery completely unscathed. The tumor removal resulted in left side numbness and weakness, double vision, and slurred speech. He spent a month in the hospital recovering, followed by the insurance-alloted 30 sessions of physical and occupational therapy. At the end of those sessions he was told his “new normal” would be using a walker and that he could not be left alone. At such a young age who wants to hear that their independence has been stripped from them? “I wanted to walk again without a walker. I wanted to cook for myself. I wanted to take care of myself. I had to go back home and live with my parents. I wanted to live in my own home. I wanted to be independent and live my life again,” he says.

Throughout the entire recovery process John’s family was right beside him, never letting him give up. “I am so grateful for my family and all their support,” he says. John’s sister took a year off from college to help out day to day and his mom continued to pray and search from places for him to continue therapy. The research paid off and John completed his evaluation at CORE. “I will never forget the day of my initial evaluation,” says John. “As we were leaving, Malerie came up and looked at me and said that the walker was holding me back.” 

Those positive words resonated with John and gave him the courage to try walking on his own. He spent the next year at CORE working toward his ultimate goal of independence. The positive atmosphere combined with an enthusiastic training team helped to provide the physical, emotional, and psychological support he needed to motivate himself. This was especially true during the time John was taking part in a clinical trial for a new type of chemotherapy and was low on energy. His training team’s sensitivity and compassion kept him going. “They went beyond just being a therapist, but also a caring friend when they participated in a fundraiser with me to support the clinical trial I was on.”

John wasn’t the only one whose life was positively impacted during his year of training. His sister, who had taken time off of college to help him in his time of need, discovered a new passion. Originally working toward her Master’s in Classical Clarinet, she changed course and began studying to become a music therapist, deciding to use her music to make a difference in the lives of others.

John’s year of hard work resulted in meeting his goals. He is back at work full time and living on his own. He has also taken up cooking and painting in his spare time. “I am living my life again.” 


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