Learn to live in the present

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After the operation, she received the official diagnosis: grade 3 glioblastoma. It has since progressed to grade 4.

“We were all confused,” Brooks said. “My family and I had so many questions. What is glioblastoma? Why does this happen? How did it happen? How long has the tumor been there? We had no family history of cancer. Just how?”

Jodi Brooks with husband Sam. Contributed by Jodi Brooks

Credit: Contributed by Jodi Brooks

Credit: Contributed by Jodi Brooks

Jodi Brooks with husband Sam. Contributed by Jodi Brooks

Credit: Contributed by Jodi Brooks

Credit: Contributed by Jodi Brooks

Facing reality

Glioblastoma is a malignant cancer that affects the brain and spinal cord. It can strike anyone at any age, but is more common in older people. Symptoms include vomiting, nausea, headaches and seizures. It is non-genetic in nature, grows rapidly, and the reasons for its occurrence are unknown. Treatment includes surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The median survival time for someone with glioblastoma is 15 months.

But the doctors remained hopeful. They deemed Brooks’ surgery successful, and she returned to work a few weeks later as a managing partner at Finn Partners, a global marketing agency.

Before COVID, Brooks commuted by subway to headquarters in New York, worked eight to 10 hour days and traveled across the United States one week a month. Since COVID and her diagnosis, she has been working from home, still averaging eight hours of work a day.

She is grateful for the support she has received from her CEO and colleagues, especially her work friend Katie Seigenthaler, who endured her own battle with cancer involving her child.

“Once Jodi was diagnosed with glioblastoma, she and I took our friendship to another level,” Seigenthaler said. “I was blown away by her insistence on hearing, absorbing and processing the truth, always. She asked me this: to always be honest with her. She is not afraid of fear. She does not pretend to be brave, does not repeat the typical survivor language so pervasive in the world of cancer and, therefore, is the most courageous and optimistic of all.I am in awe of her.

power of optimism

Brooks’ attitude toward cancer mirrors that of his professional ethics. She is relentless in building relationships, fierce when it comes to finding solutions.

A year after her operation, she has taken two big steps. She transferred her care to Dr. Henry Friedman of the Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. And she and her family moved to Johns Creek to be closer to her cousins ​​and her doctor, whom she affectionately calls “Dr. Henri.”

“I wouldn’t be here without Dr. Henry,” Brooks said. “I am so grateful to him. I love it. My first doctors in New York didn’t expect me to be here yet, but I am thanks to Dr. Henry. Finding the right doctor is everything.

Dr. Friedman, 70, has been practicing neuro-oncology since 1981. While he humbly responds to Jodi’s praise, he acknowledges that the Duke team has a philosophy that he believes positively affects their patients.

“The foundation of our entire program is ‘At Duke there is hope,'” Dr. Friedman said. to patients’ time.We believe that the positive approach is the right approach.

Brooks has undergone several chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and she visits Duke every eight weeks for an MRI. A recent scan revealed that the tumor had grown.

“It’s hard not to be upset, because obviously if it grows, it’s not good,” Brooks said. “But Dr. Henry immediately said, ‘OK, we’ll try something else. We still have other options. I feel a little relief then. There is still something to work on, there is still hope.

Dr. Friedman strongly believes in the power of optimism.

“There have been great books written on physiological manifestations in the body of having an optimistic approach, Anatomy of Hope by Dr. Gerome Groopman being one of the best,” Dr. Friedman said. “Jodi adheres to our philosophy and she is capable of fighting. If she wasn’t, she would die… I’ve been accused of giving false hope, but I don’t agree with that. The majority of people with glioblastoma will die, yes, but a growing number will not. Jodi lives to fight another day.

Jodi Brooks, before her brain cancer diagnosis Contributed by Jodi Brooks

Credit: Contributed by Jodi Brooks

Jodi Brooks, before her brain cancer diagnosis Contributed by Jodi Brooks

Credit: Contributed by Jodi Brooks

Jodi Brooks, before her brain cancer diagnosis Contributed by Jodi Brooks

Credit: Contributed by Jodi Brooks

Credit: Contributed by Jodi Brooks

Focus on the present

Brooks lives her life so differently now. It’s the way she should have lived all along, the way, she says, we all should live. For example, we should be less consumed by social media and stop watching other people live their lives so we can live ours.

“Life is a precious gift, but even more precious is the quality of life. Focus on your presence for every experience, big or small. Think about your legacy and act on it every day,” she said. “Your legacy isn’t something bold or grand, it’s the footprint you leave on the world. Every day we impact others, and that’s what makes it all so unbelievable.

Brooks has worked hard to maintain normalcy in her life. Despite exhaustion and the roller coaster of changes in her body, she is determined to cook dinner, do her job well, and play tennis. Her family and friends cheer her up, fill in the gaps, drive her to her appointments, and are ready and willing to do whatever she needs to. In return, Brooks strives to continue to be a good friend, a hard worker, and a good wife. Her biggest goal, she said, is 10-year-old Jonah.

“Life with Jonah feels as normal as it gets, because I refuse to let it be any other way,” Brooks said. “He knows everything that’s going on, but I always want to give him my best. Of course, there are times when I’m angry and times when I cry, because it shouldn’t be the case and it’s unfair, but I choose not to do that with him. I might start worrying about being at Jonah’s bar mitzvah in two years, but I’m working hard to correct that thought. I’m still here. I’m going to take her to college one day.

Friends have told Brooks she should quit her job and go to places she’s always dreamed of visiting, but she refuses to because it feels like her death.

“My counselor once asked me if a doctor told me I was dying,” Brooks said. “The answer was no; my doctor didn’t say that. So the counselor said, “Unless the doctor says you’re dying, you’re alive. It’s so simple, but it’s beautiful. One day they might say I’m going to die, but until then I’m going to live.

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