Brad Eastman's story about surviving a brain tumor
Extended interview with Brad and his physicians
Brad Eastman, from Edwardsville, Ill., is a husband, a father, a supply chain professional—and an experienced endurance athlete. In fact, he has participated in marathons and Ironman and Olympic distance triathlons. In January 2013, he competed in the Walt Disney World Marathon, where he finished in the top 1 percent of the 10,095 men who crossed the finish line. Accomplishments like this paint a vivid picture of Eastman, a man familiar with hard work and accustomed to overcoming difficulties.
Two months after the Disney marathon, Brad’s endurance and positive attitude ran up against an unexpected challenge. He puts it this way: “I found myself signed up for a race I’d never trained for.”
In the months leading up to the Disney marathon, Brad was experiencing some strange sensations, including a recurring and intense sense of déjà vu—that feeling that one has experienced the exact same moment sometime in the past—coupled with an odd taste in his mouth that persisted even when he hadn’t eaten.
When these sensations didn’t disappear as he hoped they would, Eastman made an appointment with a neurologist, who referred him to a radiologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital for a series of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests. Epilepsy was a possibility. The day after the MRI, Brad took a call from the neurologist, who asked him to visit his office immediately to discuss the results. Eastman had a brain tumor. The neurologist had already secured an appointment with Eric Leuthardt, MD, a Washington University neurosurgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
Brad did a little background work, discovering that Leuthardt was renowned in his field and that, like himself, Leuthardt was married and had a young daughter. Brad gained confidence as he thought about this surgeon, who was skilled and experienced, and who might understand just what was at stake.
Leuthardt offered his new patient several options: monitor the tumor with a wait-and-see approach; undergo a procedure to biopsy the tumor; or have the tumor resected, or removed. And Leuthardt suggested Eastman get a second opinion. “Whatever my decision was going to be,” Brad says, “Dr. Leuthardt told me I needed to ‘own’ it—no second thoughts.” Eastman chose surgery and resection.
The tumor that interrupted Eastman’s life was removed in April 2013, and he returned to work in July. “I sometimes have to pinch myself,” Brad says. “I had a fist-sized tumor in my head, and now I’m doing everything I did before.”
There is no evidence that the tumor has returned. Leuthardt says, “We were able to complete a 95 percent removal; Brad’s prognosis is excellent.”
To put it more simply, Brad is here; still a husband, still a father. And he’s running again, readying himself for the next race.