LSU safety Greg Brooks Jr., aged 22, recently faced a life-altering diagnosis: medulloblastoma, an uncommon brain cancer.
Medulloblastoma affects around 350-500 people in the U.S. annually, with children being its most frequent victims. Greg’s condition came to light after an MRI scan showed a tumour between his cerebellum and brainstem.
What is medulloblastoma?
Medulloblastoma is a type of malignant brain tumour that arises in the cerebellum, the part of the brain located at the back and bottom, just above the brainstem. Medulloblastomas are the most common malignant brain tumours in children, though they can also appear in adults, albeit less frequently.
Here are some key points about medulloblastoma:
Origin: Medulloblastomas are embryonal tumours, meaning they arise from precursor (embryonic) cells that become nerve cells.
Symptoms: Due to their location in the cerebellum, medulloblastomas can block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid leading to hydrocephalus (accumulation of fluid in the brain). This can cause symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting, and balance problems.
Diagnosis: The diagnosis of medulloblastoma typically involves imaging tests such as MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and CT (Computed Tomography) scans. A biopsy, where a small piece of the tumour is removed for examination under a microscope, can confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment: Treatment usually involves a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. The exact course of treatment depends on factors like the patient’s age, the tumour’s size and location, and whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Successful Surgery but Challenges Ahead
Greg underwent a successful surgery on Sept. 15 to remove this tumour. However, Dr. Catherine O’Neal from Our Lady of the Lake Health stated that Greg’s ability to speak and communicate has been impacted post-surgery. Thankfully, there is no sign of cancer spreading elsewhere in his body.
Rehabilitation and Support: The Road Ahead
“Greg is responsive and collaborates daily with physical therapy,” Dr. O’Neal stated. His path to recovery includes months of intensive rehabilitation. As he embarks on this recovery journey, Greg’s family, along with his care team, will liaise with top specialists dealing with this particular brain cancer to chalk out an effective treatment plan. The emphasis is on rallying the community’s wholehearted support for Greg during this challenging phase.
A Glimpse into Greg’s Football Career
A significant figure in LSU’s team, Greg Brooks Jr. played crucial roles in the team’s first two games. However, he missed the Sept. 16 game against Mississippi State, which was later revealed as a “medical emergency” by coach Brian Kelly. Earlier in the year, Greg suffered vertigo and experienced a recurrence of dizziness, which led to the MRI revealing his tumour.
The Importance of MRI Scans
MRI scans, the tool that detected Greg’s tumour, have been instrumental in diagnosing brain abnormalities across the globe. In Asia, with its burgeoning population, the accessibility and affordability of MRI scans are increasingly becoming a focal point for healthcare initiatives. Early detection remains key in battling conditions like medulloblastoma.
In conclusion, Greg Brooks Jr.’s battle with medulloblastoma sheds light on the challenges and triumphs faced by patients with rare medical conditions. His story serves as a beacon of hope, emphasising the significance of early detection, robust medical intervention, and the unwavering power of community support.
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