For Elizabeth Fell, a married, mother of three and an attorney at a small firm in Kirkland, life was good. She had never been in the hospital, except to have her beautiful children Michael (age 8), Emily (age 4) and Julia (age 2). She had never even broken a bone, she said. Then one day in April, 2011 her life changed. She was feeling a cramp in one arm, and her thinking was “foggy”, she says, then she passed out. Thinking she might have suffered a stroke, Elizabeth’s husband rushed her to the emergency room.
The emergency room doctor ordered a CT scan of her head. Elizabeth and her husband waited. “The doctor came back in and showed us the scan. He said that the scan shows that you have a brain tumor and that the passing out was likely a seizure caused by the pressure that the tumor is putting on your brain,” says Elizabeth. It was a complete shock. “The ER doctor consulted with a neuro-surgeon, who speculated that it is an oligodendroglioma, a slow growing tumor,” explains Elizabeth. “Different doctors have speculated that it could have been growing for the past one to two years, others have said I may have been born with it.”
Elizabeth had surgery shortly after her diagnosis. She has been receiving treatment in Seattle at Swedish Medical Center, under the care of Dr. Greg Foltz. Dr. Foltz is the the director of the Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute, and was voted by Seattle Met Magazine as a Seattle Top Doc in 2011. He also encourages his patients, like Elizabeth, to participate in the Seattle Brain Cancer Walk, coming up on Saturday, September 22.
“Dr. Foltz inspires his patients,” says Elizabeth. “In reality, brain cancer numbers are quite rare,” she says, “and every tumor is different. Dr. Foltz believes in individual treatment based on each person’s tumor, so he can target them more precisely.”
Dr. Greg Foltz says that the Seattle Brain Cancer Walk is the only event to support brain cancer patients and research in the Puget Sound. “It was started by patients and their families,” says Dr. Foltz. “Now there are over 3,000 participants. It is inspiring and incredibly meaningful.”
The walk, now in its fifth year, has raised over two million dollars. And all the proceeds go to support brain research right here in the Northwest. “Impressively,” says Dr. Foltz, “every dollar raised on the walk leverages an additional $9 in funding from grants and other sources.” This has resulted in both new treatment initiatives and new research initiatives for patients living with brain cancer.
As for Elizabeth, she and her team mates will be walking during the Seattle Brain Walk. They are among the top five fundraising teams for the walk this Saturday, September 22. Her team, Zeb’s Bunch, (Elizabeth’s childhood nickname), will be out in force. You are encouraged to come out and cheer, or donate to the walk and continue the fight for a cure for brain cancer. Elizabeth says, “I’m feeling great today. I don’t pay attention to statistics. I believe I’m going to see my kids graduate from high school. And I believe a cure is inevitable.”
The Seattle Brain Cancer Walk takes place on Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 9:00am. It starts at the Seattle Center Founders Court and stays within the Seattle Center grounds.
For more information on the Seattle Brain Cancer walk, visit http://www.braincancerwalk.org.
The Seattle Center is located at:
305 Harrison Street
Seattle, WA 98109
— written by Tama Fulton