On March 17, 2011, St. Michael mom of three, Lara Radintz woke up to find her 34 year old husband, Bill, having a seizure in bed next to her. The next few moments were a blur of calling an ambulance, her inlaws and wondering what was going on.
Upon arriving at the Maple Grove Hospital, the initial CT scan showed a significant mass in the right frontal lobe, so Bill, who hadn't had headaches, dizziness or any likely symptoms, was headed to Robbinsdale.
Once the two were at Robbinsdale and settled on the neuro floor, Lara knew this was serious. "At this point no one had said anything about cancer but it was in my mind," Lara said.
The neurosurgeon informed Bill of their findings. A brain tumor the size of a large dinner roll or baseball.
"My first thought was I don't have time for this," Bill said. "These are the things that happen to other people, I've never been sick or broken a bone or even been in a hospital," he said remembering hearing that news.
Bill went into the operating room for a 5 1/2 hour brain surgery first thing the next morning.
He was diagnosed with an antiplastic astrocytoma grade 3. The median survival rate is 18 months but both Bill and Lara are clear in saying that only God knows your prognosis.
"We never asked the doctor for the prognosis and he never gave and answer," Lara said.
"We decided we'll start treatment and take it a day at a time," Bill said.
A day at a time they did. Life had to go on even with Bill sick. Lara remembers bringing Bill home from the hospital just five days after his brain surgery and having to take one of their kids to kindergarten orientation that night. "Life has to go on," she said.
Bill began the daunting treatment of chemo and radiation for six weeks straight totalling 30 sessions. After four weeks off, his chemo dose doubled and started six months of chemo with one week on, three weeks off.
In November 2011, they were at a cross roads. "The doctor basically told us, 'you've done the standard of care but studies show if you do another six months you'll do better longer," Bill said.
So he did another six months of treatment and at his MRI in June, "everything looked fine," Bill said.
He's currently in what some would call surveillance mode and will continue to have MRI's every other month. The form of brain cancer Bill has will never go away completely, the cancer cells will still be there, the treatment is meant to keep them at bay.
"It will come back someday but I did so well with treatment it's positive and encouraging," Bill said.
The family makes the most of their new normal. Their three young children, Lily (9), Audrey (6) and Ben (4) are all aware that their dad has cancer and because Bill is on seizure meds the rest of his life, his oldest daughter knows what to do if dad happens to have a seizure.
While some may feel sorrow or sadness over their cicumstances, Bill and Lara have chosen to feel positive and handle it differently.
"I'm here," Bill said. "I'm with it, I'm not holed up in bed, I'm here."
"It really made us realize all of our blessings," Lara said. "Everybody has trials and burdens and it could have been worse."
Bill goes so far as to calling this a "huge blessing".
"Faith was a big part of the journey. I got back into reading my Bible and got back in touch with friends and family. And prayers just meant the world." Bill said.
Both say they've since realized the little things are really little and have chosen to re-evaluate various priorities. "Sometimes the hardships in you life are the blessings," Lara said.
While Bill will never be completely "cancer-free", he currently is doing well and his most recent MRI showed no growth. To stay up to date on Bill and the Radintz family, visit their caringbridge site at http://www.caringbridge.com/visit/billradintz