Todd and family

Husband, Father, Warrior: Todd Steyer

Written by Jennifer Moody-Steyer

The last few months have been quite the journey for Todd and I.  Many of you know the reason why, but for those of you that we have not yet had a chance to share with, I would like to tell you what has been going on in our world.  In the Spring of 2019, Todd began having what he described as “panic attacks.”  We thought this may be due to the stress of just having our new baby and my complicated pregnancy and delivery.   His doctor prescribed a medication to help with the attacks, and they got better.  We continued on, not thinking anything of them. During the fall, Todd began experiencing migraines.  They usually came on in the afternoons, and one got so bad that he asked me to come and pick him up from work.  Those of you who know him know that he NEVER leaves work because he is sick.  I picked him up and we went to urgent care.  We thought these migraines may have been brought on by stress or the previous medication the doctor put him on.  The urgent care doctor gave Todd some medication and fluids and sent us home with the caution that if the headache came back, we should go to the ER.  

Todd, wife and new baby at hospital

The headache did come back two days later.  On Friday, October 18th, as Todd was coming home from work, he got a severe migraine. He pulled into our garage and got out of his truck to walk into the house.  In his words, what happened next was that he “lost control of the bottom portion of his legs.”  He fell down and became worried.  He called me as soon as he was able to regain control of his legs and get into the house.  I was on my way home and got there 5 minutes later.  We decided it was time to go to the Emergency Room.  We packed Emmy up and went to Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins.

Todd and family hiking

Todd described all the symptoms he was having and the ER doctor decided to do an MRI of Todd’s head.  It was a very busy night at the ER and we waited for a couple of hours before we got the results.  The doctor came back into the room and told us that he had figured out the cause of Todd’s migraines.  He looked at us and said “You have a large mass in your brain.”  Both of us sat there in shock, thinking that this could not be real.  Our world was rocked. The neurosurgeon on call in Denver reviewed the scan and confirmed that Todd had a brain tumor.  They told us that the neurosurgeon would give us a call the next day to talk more about it and to come up with a plan. 

Todd with wife and baby

We spoke to the neurosurgeon in Denver the next day and he let us know that he believed the tumor was a Glioma.  Basically, it meant that his tumor had formed from a mutation of the supportive nerve cells in his brain.  The doctor recommended that he have surgery (resection) to remove the tumor and determine what type of Glioma we were dealing with. We made an appointment to see the doctor in person and we also made appointments to see doctors at Cleveland Clinic, John’s Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic.  I researched as much as I could to try to find the best surgeons and we also reached out to Todd’s amazing family for resources as well too.  We traveled and met with three different surgeons.  At the end of our travels, we felt the most comfortable and confident in the Cleveland Clinic and the surgeon we had met there.  It also was great since Todd is from there and we were able to stay with his family while he healed.  

Todd had his resection done on November 15th.  He did incredibly well!  He had the best attitude going in and the surgery was a success.  They removed 80-90% of the tumor.  Our next step was to wait for the results of the tumor’s pathology.  This would help the doctors formulate the best plan to help Todd going forward.

Todd kissing baby daughter

10 days later, we went back for the results of the tumor pathology.  They told us that the tumor was an Anaplastic Astrocytoma Grade III.  This is not the worst type of tumor, but it is not the best type to have either.  We met with the team at Cleveland Clinic that told us that the best course of action was going to be a combination of radiation and chemotherapy. They let us know that the treatments could be done back in Colorado.  We stayed in Cleveland for a couple more weeks and then came back home to begin Todd’s treatment.  Currently, Todd is in the middle of his treatments.  He will do a total of 42 radiation treatments and takes an oral chemotherapy drug daily.  He will get a month off once his radiation treatments are done and then he will stay on “maintenance chemo,” which means he will take it for 5 days straight and then not take any for 23 days.  The doctors have recommended he do this for at least a year.  

He has maintained a positive attitude this entire time, and is such an inspiration to me every day.  Though he is fatigued and has some nausea, he has been in overall good spirits and has really been a warrior through this.  We couldn’t have gotten this far without the support of our amazing family and friends as well.  We are truly and utterly blessed by the outpouring of love and support. 

Our reasoning in sharing this with you all is simple – we want there to be more awareness surrounding brain cancer and tumors.  This has been on our hearts and minds as we have gone through this journey.  The symptoms from brain tumors are often things that are overlooked and we want more people to be aware of this and to know when to seek help from a medical professional and when to advocate for your own health.  Many of you know that my dad passed away from a Glioblastoma brain tumor in 2004, so this is something we have felt the need to raise awareness for and to help find a cure for. 

Thank you all for your continued support and love through this time.  We are blessed beyond measure and will continue to fight the battle against brain cancer together.

Help support the Moody-Steyer Family by joining them at the Rockin’ for Recovery 5k on June 6, 2020 at Boardwalk Park in Windsor, Colorado.