Two local families share their stories
PRINCETON — About 300 people attended the Help Tim Bauer Fight Glioblastoma brain cancer fundraiser Saturday at the Bureau County Fairgrounds.
The event included not only a dinner, auctions, raffles, a bake sale and music, but also an opportunity for participants to learn more about the disease.
Several people in the area have recently been diagnosed with glioblastoma, sometimes referred to as glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).
The families of Tim Bauer and Dianne Boekeloo shared how this disease is affecting their loved ones and how the disease is also affecting family members.
What in the world is
It is an aggressive type of cancer that occurs in the brain. Glioblastoma forms from cells called astrocytes that support nerve cells.
Glioblastomas can occur in any lobe of the brain and even the brainstem and cerebellum, but more commonly occur in the frontal and temporal lobes.
Glioblastoma is considered a grade 4 tumor. They are the most aggressive, and they spread into other parts of the brain quickly. Glioblastomas don’t metastasize (or spread) outside of the brain.
Glioblastoma can occur at any age, but tend to occur more often in older adults. It can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting and seizures. Tumors frequently cause subtle personality changes and memory loss or, again, depending on location, muscle weakness and disturbances in speech and language.
Glioblastoma can be very difficult to treat, and a cure is often not possible. Treatments may slow progression of the cancer and reduce signs and symptoms.
Brain cancers aren’t common, and when it does happen, four out of five diagnosed brain cancers are not glioblastoma. According to Web MD, from 2009 to 2013, doctors diagnosed approximately 11,000 glioblastoma cases in the U.S. each of those years.
In the fall of 2017, 60-year-old Tim Bauer began having severe memory lapses. He was becoming lethargic and was unable to carry on a conversation. His wife, Kathy, took him to Perry Memorial Hospital in Princeton, fearing that he was having a stroke.
On Dec. 9, Tim was diagnosed with a brain tumor and was sent to Peoria for treatment. He had surgery three days later to remove as much of the tumor as possible, but because of the location of the tumor in the left frontal lobe, his strength, memory, and emotion centers have been affected.
Tim has had both chemo and radiation treatments as well as a Novocure Optune device, which creates low-intensity electric fields that may slow or stop cancer cells from multiplying and may even cause them to die.
Tim’s niece, Emily Leffelman, helped to set up the benefit for Tim and Kathy this past weekend.
Emily said, “Tim’s cancer has brought our family even closer together. Cancer opens your eyes to how valuable life is. A lot of cancers don’t take away the mind but only the body, where this type of cancer is affecting both.”
With tears in her eyes, Emily explained that the hardest part of this for her is seeing her uncle change before her eyes. Tim was known for his smart and witty personality before all of this changed him.
“You take for granted all of the conversations you’ve had, because there won’t be another one,” Emily said.
Tim’s brother, Tom, has also been affected by Tim’s cancer. Tim and Tom have worked together for many years and are very close.
Tom said: “It consumes you. It’s a horrible thing to go through and to be diagnosed with when there is no cure. It’s a life changer for everyone.”
Both Tom and Emily talked about how important family is and how they are both doing everything they can to help Kathy take care of Tim and to do what they can to lighten her load.
Dianne Boekeloo, 71, was diagnosed with lung cancer in the spring of 2016. After completing chemotherapy and radiation treatment, she was in remission.
In the fall of 2016, her doctor did preventative, full-brain radiation because Dianne’s type of cancer typically spreads to the brain. Dianne was completely cancer-free until November 2017.
In December 2017, Dianne fell, and this past January, she went back to the doctor because she was having equilibrium problems. It was at this time that they discovered two golf-ball-sized tumors.
In early February, one of the tumors was mostly removed, with the intent of doing gamma knife radiation on the other. After surgery, Dianne went to a rehabilitation facility and then they found another spot. The location of her cancer is affecting not only her equilibrium but her speech as well.
Dianne’s daughter, Lori Boekeloo, explained that one of the positive sides of this debilitating disease has been watching her dad, Jerry, in his role as caretaker. Jerry retired in January, and his wife’s illness has given him a purpose.
Lori said, “He’s talking so sweet to her and rubbing her feet. It’s nice to watch.”
For Lori, the hardest part is watching her mom decline and to lose her speech. Lori said that her mom was always proud of her vocabulary and her ability to complete very difficult crossword puzzles.
“It was hard watching when she was aware that she wasn’t functioning at the ability she used to. Now it’s easier for me, because my mom is less aware,” Lori said.
Holding back tears, Lori said that she’s at peace with what is going to happen to her mom, and so is her mom because of their faith.
Lori hopes that her mom will be able to take one last vacation.
Lori said: “It’s our goal to get Mom up to our cottage in Pentwater, Michigan, one more time before she passes. It’s also where she wants her ashes spread.”
Though both families are going through something everyone hopes will never happen to them, both are able to see through their pain to find the positive side of a very sad situation.