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Meet Richard

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As the days begin to shorten and the temperature slowly drops, with a new month upon us it's time to meet another member. This September, we're pleased to introduce you to Richard - better known on our community as Orlando. Here's more about Richard, in his own words. 

 
Hello, my name is Richard Nash and I’m 43 years old. I have two brothers named Darren and Michael.  My mother’s name is Marilyn and she currently resides with her partner in Toronto.  I have been married for nearly 16 years (woot woot) to my wonderful wife Stephanie.  Stephanie has a sister named Amanda and two brothers named Troy and Jay.  Stephanie and I have two sons named Xavier (17) and Darius (14).  Both boys recently graduated from high school and elementary school this year.  So far, Stephanie and I have been blessed with two very, very respectful, intelligent and hardworking sons.  Both boys made the honor roll this year, Xavier earned a partial scholarship and Darius won the grade 8 math award.  I’m a Child and Youth Worker and I’ve been working in Child Protection for 17 years.  I also teach night school at the same college that I graduated from. 
 
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Richard, Stephanie, Xavier and Darius
 

This car ride is taking forever
 
On June 19, 2016 (Father’s Day), my wife got up early and went for a run as per her usual weekend routine.  She completed several half marathons in the past several years so this day was not out of the ordinary as part of her regular training.  Stephanie came back from her run and proceeded to make breakfast for her husband (me).  We ate breakfast and then my brother came by with his son Jackson as we had previously planned to go down to the beach near my house.  My son Darius came with us but Xavier stayed home.  Stephanie is currently working on a hip hop album with a friend of ours.  On this particular day she was scheduled to meet with him at his house in Toronto.  In the process of brushing her hair, Stephanie experienced difficulties manipulating her brush.  Stephanie ended up brushing her cheek and eye (which later resulted in an infection).  It wasn’t until Stephanie attempted to walk down our stairs that she realized there was something seriously wrong.  Stephanie could not use her right leg properly and ended up walking down the stairs step by step.  Once on the couch, Stephanie called 911 and told the operator that she was having a stroke and was home alone.  Hearing this from the basement, our older son Xavier came upstairs and told Stephanie that he was home.  Xavier calmed Stephanie down and took over the phone call.  At some point during the ordeal, Xavier contacted me and told me that I needed to come home because, “mommy thinks she is having a stroke”.  The beach is only about 5 minutes away from our home but it felt like forever.  So many things went through my mind.  I was extremely worried and scared. 

 
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Stephanie
 

At least buy me a drink first
 
When I arrived home after a car ride that seemed to take forever, the ambulance attendants were already at our home tending to Stephanie.  Stephanie’s blood pressure was ridiculously high and her heart rate was very, very low.  I followed the ambulance to the nearest hospital and during the commute I called two of my very good friends and asked if they could meet us.  Once we arrived to the hospital, Stephanie was registered for a CT scan.  Stephanie has a kidney disease and has been on medication for years.  In February her medication was changed and since the change she had been complaining that she, “didn’t feel right”.  She reported these concerns to family, friends and her doctors for months.  As a result, her nephrologist took her off the medication on June 17, 2016 and made a follow up appointment with her that was supposed to take place during the week of June 20, 2016.  Thinking that her unusual behavior was due to her kidney medication, Stephanie and I joked that we would most likely be home in an hour or two just in time to celebrate the rest of Father’s Day.  It did not take long for Stephanie to complete the CT scan.  Stephanie, my friend Silvio and I waited in a room for the results.  In the process of waiting, Stephanie was required to have blood taken.  It must have been amateur hour at the hospital that day because the nurse that drew the blood was absolutely terrible.  There was blood everywhere and at one point I was going to take my phone out and start recording because I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing.  Shortly after the bloodbath, a doctor came in and asked Silvio to leave the room.  In the coldest manner possible the doctor said, “Okay your CT results came back.  You have a large tumor in your brain.  There is nothing we can do for you here. We are arranging transportation for you to Sunnybrook Medical Center”.  I stood there motionless while Stephanie was in the hospital bed.  Everything after that point is somewhat of a blur to me but I do remember leaving the room crying.  Silvio came back to the room and he grabbed me because I was about to pass out.  Silvio is Smurf height and I’m nearly 6 feet tall.  I found an empty room and I called my brothers, sister in-law and about 10 different friends.  Looking back now I feel really bad for leaving my wife in the room for so long but I was in total shock and dismay.  I know that doctors are at times responsible for delivering some pretty horrible news.  However, the news would have been taken better if the doctor would have sat down with us and perhaps showed a bit more emotion. 
 
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We’re not in Kansas anymore
 
We were taken to another hospital in Toronto and Stephanie was admitted to the Neurosurgery Unit.  By the time Stephanie was admitted, our families and friends had heard the news and a good number of them stopped by to offer their support.  Stephanie was scheduled to have an MRI the next day and all we could do was wait.  It was difficult for me to leave her there but we have two sons that needed me to be at home.  After reviewing the MRI, the head surgeon advised us that he suspected the tumor was malignant but he could not be certain until he was able to do surgery.  The tumor was about 6 cm in length and the surgeon told us that he wasn’t sure how much if any of the tumor he would be able to remove.  To top it off, the tumor was covered by a cyst that was actually liquefying the tumor.  For about 8 days Stephanie was in a room waiting to have her surgery.  The hospital specialized in trauma cases so anytime there was an accident or another type of emergency, Stephanie’s surgery would get bumped.  We were becoming anxious and upset but on June 27, 2016, the surgery took place.  The surgery took place on the same day as Darius’ grade 8 graduation.  However, by the time the ceremony was about to begin my mother called me to say the surgery was completed and Stephanie was in recovery.  When we met with the doctor on June 28th, he informed us that he was able to remove the entire cyst and more than 90% of the tumor.  This was very good news but the scary thing about this type of tumor is the ability for it to spread.  The doctor explained that the tumor has something similar to tentacles that reach out and grow in different parts of the brain.  I remember hearing this and coming very close to fainting.  The Nurse Practitioner had to catch me in order to prevent me from falling.  Surprisingly, my wife did not seem to be fazed by this news.  She responded by saying she was going to beat this because she has things to do and sons to finish raising. 
 
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6 Weeks
 
Stephanie was discharged from the hospital on June 29, 2016, which is her birthday and the day Xavier graduated from high school.  She had her staples removed on July 11, 2016 and began radiation and chemo on July 25, 2016.  As I write this, Stephanie is in her 6th week and will end this round of treatment on September 8, 2016.  It has been an extremely emotional 6 weeks for Stephanie and I.  We are lucky to have such caring and supportive family and friends.  There are several people that I work with who were instrumental in arranging donations for my family.  Sandra, Patricia and Silvio all worked tirelessly setting up food schedules and collecting money for my family.  My co-workers raised enough money to pay for our hospital pass and gas for the last 6 weeks.  They also pooled money together to pay for our house to be cleaned.  There was a period in which I hadn’t cooked in about 3 weeks because my friends were preparing and delivering meals to us 5 days a week. 

 
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I had a very difficult time accepting all of the support from my friends.  It got to the point where I actually considered telling Sandra to stop collecting money and food for my family.  I spoke to Sandra, Patricia and Silvio about it and they helped me realize that everyone wanted to help me because I would do the same for them.  This really hit home and I became more comfortable with the support.  It continues to amaze me and I will never forget their kindness.  This truly helped me realize how much I mean to the people I work with. 

 
What about me?
 
 I had a tough time seeking support for myself.  I was growing tired of answering phone calls and text messages from people that wanted to know how everything was going. After spending an hour or so at treatment the last thing I wanted to do was answer people’s messages.  I know they were calling because of genuine concern, but it was making me furious.  One day Stephanie and I were out shopping and a friend texted me, I was driving so I didn’t answer the message.  Ten seconds later my phone rings and I knew it was most likely same person that sent me a message.  I became upset and told Stephanie that all I want is for everyone to stop calling me.  Stephanie told me that I needed to talk to somebody about my feelings because she noticed that I was becoming easily agitated and annoyed lately. I refused and Stephane began to cry.  I felt like horrible so when she went into the store I called Patricia.  Patricia also felt that I needed to seek some support for myself.   After I spoke to Patricia and Stephanie returned, I decided to look at getting myself some support and here I am!
 

 
What next?
 
We don’t know what’s next but we do know that we will continue to be positive.  Stephanie has surprised me because she is usually very pessimistic.  She has shown so much courage and I am very proud to be her husband.  I meet with Xavier and Darius on a weekly basis to check in on them and to answer any questions they might have.  So far, they appear to be doing well and they haven’t requested to seek any external support.  I just want them to know that it’s okay to be scared and that if they want to cry that’s okay too.  That’s all!

 
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We'd like to thank Richard for sharing his story and photos with us. If you are interested in being featured in one of our monthly Meet your Neighbour posts, please email us at cancerconnection@cancer.ca.



 




Comments

You have wonderful, caring friends which means you must be like-minded. My husband was diagnosed on June 25th with a brain tumour and I have been struggling with accepting help. My husband suggested that I join a support group because of the stress with trying to work and take him to appointments. Two weeks before his diagnosis we purchased a condo so the move was really difficult. How do you cope? Please give me some hints....I can't afford to get sick because my husband needs me right now....so scared.
  • Posted Thu 22 Sep 2016 02:00 PM EDT
Orlando
I know exactly how you feel, accepting help is very difficult. I am a 3x survivor of Cancer having had 2 Stem Cell Transplants. Just about everyone wants to help you in whatever way they can. Some people just don't know how to go about doing it. Don't let pride and stubbornness get in the way, Accept the help because we all know you need it.

Terry
  • Posted Sun 25 Sep 2016 11:20 AM EDT
I'm still learning but I've learned a lot so far. Accepting help was so very difficult for me because my wife and I usually take on the role of the helpers so this turn of events was difficult to accept. Taking care of our sons, taking care of my wife and trying to manage all of the appointments almost took its toll on me but my wife, friends and family pretty much made me seek help for myself. I felt very guilty going to yoga, going for bike rides, working out and going for drinks with friends because I knew that my wife could not do these things. However, Stephanie wanted me to get out and take care of myself. I still feel guilty and even decided to come home early with Steph from a wedding last night (I'm stubborn). I'm going to send you a friend request with my number so you can contact me personally if you like. I will do as much as I can to help you through this difficult time. We need each other.

Richard
  • Posted Sun 25 Sep 2016 10:32 AM EDT
You have a beautiful love story. God always gives his toughest battles to his best soldiers. My continued prayers for you, Stephanie & your beautiful family.
  • Posted Thu 08 Sep 2016 12:19 PM EDT
Hi Firesign68,

It is a pretty cool love story isn't it? I didn't really realize it until I started writing. Thank you for you positive thoughts and prayers. Sorry for taking so long to respond but the last couple of weeks have been pretty busy.
  • Posted Wed 21 Sep 2016 11:37 AM EDT
Thank you Shellylynn
  • Posted Thu 08 Sep 2016 07:32 AM EDT
You are doing a great job--keep up the good work!
  • Posted Wed 07 Sep 2016 11:03 PM EDT
Hello Shellylynn

How are you doing? Thank you for your response. I can't believe the up and down with emotions. Every day seems to be a different emotion or a mx of several emotions. So very unpredictable eh?
  • Posted Wed 21 Sep 2016 11:35 AM EDT

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