Dear friends and customers….
By Janan Talafer
11/25/2009 © Health News Florida
First, 37-year-old Davis Freeman’s hands shook and he had trouble getting his words out. Then he began to drop things and stagger at work.
He knew he had to go public with his secret, or else his customers might think he was a drunk. That would put a damper on the new business that he and his partner were working so hard to build.
In early November, Freeman composed an email letter to his friends and customers of Davis Anthony Home & Garden, an upscale shop one block off St. Petersburg’s tony Beach Drive.
“Rumors to Rest!” he wrote. “YES, I HAVE TWO TUMORS.”
He has glioblastoma multiforme, the most common and aggressive type of brain tumor, also considered the most deadly. It killed Sen. Ted Kennedy earlier this year.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 10,000 cases are diagnosed every year in the U.S. The average life expectancy is about a year.
Both tumors are on the left side of his brain. They cause shaking, nausea, seizures and painful headaches.
Davis said he hoped that by sharing his story, he could help others understand what patients with glioblastoma multiforme go through.
At first, Freeman and his partner Philip Anthony Weber attributed the symptoms to stress. The year before, they moved from Portsmouth, Va., where Weber had built a successful home and garden business.
The two hoped to create a smaller version of that store in St. Petersburg’s blossoming downtown district. They hadn’t counted on such a lengthy and deep recession.
One evening in early fall, when the couple were leaving their home to check on the shop, Freeman blacked out and collapsed face-first on the pavement. A neighbor came to their rescue and drove them to Bayfront Medical Center.
Freeman had bruises, a broken rib, and a cut on his forehead that required stitches. But a CAT scan revealed the underlying problem.
At a follow-up visit, Freeman’s family doctor John Gianoli prescribed medication to manage some of the symptoms and referred him to a cancer specialist.
In late October, Freeman met with the oncologist at Tampa General Hospital. The oncologist confirmed the diagnosis and discussed treatment options, including chemotherapy, radiation and possibly surgery, depending on the location and nature of the tumors.
Glioblastoma is known for its ability to infiltrate sensitive structures of the brain responsible for sight, speech and other vital functions. That makes surgery complicated and high-risk.
In the meantime, the oncologist is giving Freeman steroids that may shrink the tumors, which would make them easier to treat.
Freeman continues to come to the shop each day, even though it’s not always easy. “It’s all new territory for us, but we are very hopeful and grateful for the support we’re receiving,” he said.
At his next doctor’s appointment in December, he expects to know more.
Freeman has medical insurance, but as bills mount, he doesn’t want to put a drain on the business or his partner. The two have decided to set aside five percent of sales revenue to cover any health-related expenses.
For more information, go to www.davisanthony.com or call 727-821-3244. Davis Anthony Home & Garden is located at 4th Avenue NE, Suite 173, St. Petersburg.