Libertyville parents of brain tumor survivor to hold walk
Josh Prochotsky and his mother Mary pose for a portrait in their home April 20. The Prochotsky's are participating in a walk for Heroes of Hope in conjunction with Libertyville High School's Cats Against Cancer May 6. Josh was diagnosed with brain cancer
Updated: May 27, 2012 8:09AM
Josh Prochotsky didn’t think much at first of the weakness he felt in his left foot when he was a 16-year-old sophomore at Libertyville High School.
“I wasn’t feeling sick,” he said. “I just thought my right side was stronger than my left so I really didn’t think it was a problem when I noticed it.”
But a physical trainer who examined Josh could tell something was terribly wrong. After a few tests, an MRI revealed Josh had a brain tumor affecting his motor cortex, news that came as a shock to Josh and his parents Mary and David Prochotsky of Libertyville.
“It was the deepest fear I ever had in my life,” recalls Mary Prochotsky.
Because of the risk that surgery could leave him permanently paralyzed, Josh was forced to leave high school and underwent eight weeks of intense proton therapy from May to June 2008 in Florida to shrink the size of the tumor. He returned to Libertyville High School for his junior and senior years but still received oral chemotherapy.
Now a 20-year-old student at the College of Lake County, Josh still gets regular MRIs every three months but he feels healthy and no longer has to undergo chemotherapy and the tumor appears to be stable.
“I feel completely fine,” he said.
Because of the frightening experience, Mary and David Prochotsky started a local brain cancer walk last year in conjunction with the Heroes of Hope Grey Ribbon Crusade, a nationwide campaign to raise funds in the fight against brain cancer.
The walk, which is coordinated by the Prochotskys and the LHS Cats Against Cancer club, is now in its second year and will be held at 1 p.m. May 6 around Butler Lake at Libertyville High School.
Mary Prochotsky said the event is to help raise funds for brain cancer research and increase awareness of the disease. Each year, 300,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with primary brain tumor or cancer. It is the leading cause of solid tumor death in children and the second-leading cause of death in young men between the ages of 20-39.
“It’s a scary thing but you can’t be afraid to talk about it because it impacts families and communities,” said Mary Prochotsky. “It’s a devastating disease.”
Last year’s walk had more than 200 walkers and raised about $15,000. She hopes to have between 300 to 400 walkers this year and raise even more funds this year. T-shirts will be given out to walk participants and there will also be raffle prizes.
Individuals interested in participating in the walk can visit www.walktoendbraintumors.org or can call Mary Prochotsky at (847) 602-3556. Persons can also register the day of the event. The cost is $25 for adults, $15 for children (18 and under).