WESTMONT – Adam Crothers is a Lifetime Fitness trainer and a former member of the DePaul University track and field team.
A 35-year-old Westmont resident in peak physical condition, Crothers began “to feel a little off” in April 2013, experiencing sinus pain, debilitating migraines, obscured vision and hearing loss.
When trips to his physician, prescriptions and over-the-counter medicine didn’t remedy the symptoms, he scheduled an appointment with an ear, nose and throat doctor, hoping to resolve what he thought was a nagging sinus infection.
Following an MRI on April 18, 2013, Crothers was diagnosed with a Grade 4 Brain Cancer, or glioblastoma, an aggressive kind of brain tumor that grows rapidly, and despite surgical removal, radiation and chemotherapy, recurs in the majority of patients.
“It was a punch in the gut,” Crothers said. “I’ve always been in good physical shape, always felt great. Then all the sudden I go from thinking I have a sinus infection to brain cancer.”
Two days later, Crothers underwent a seven and a half hour brain surgery to remove the tumor.
“I was in a daze, I went through some tough times,” Crothers said. “Then one day, I woke up and decided I was done feeling sorry for myself. I decided to turn things around. I started running again.”
Crothers describes the ensuing months as a “dream world” because of the surgery, chemotherapy and prescribed drugs. He explains that he was fortunate to not lose memory or cognitive movement, but often could not decipher his dreams from reality.
“Everything was very surreal,” Crothers said. “The medication caused extremely vivid dreams and hallucinations and it was tough to tell these dreams from my real life. I became paranoid, anxious and had bad mood swings.
“I kind of hit bottom. But I then found help from my strong support system, my family, friends, girlfriend, co-workers and newfound spirituality. When you finally ask for help, you realize that you are not alone. It’s a beautiful thing, really.”
Although he doesn’t identify with one religious sect, Crothers said his personal relationship with God and a rekindled spirituality lifted him from despair. Soon enough, he was able to return to the track and resumed work as a personal trainer.
He receives MRI scans every two months to monitor any tumor activity and continues to take oral chemotherapy with “minimal side effects.” As of April 1, all the result have come back clean.
Crothers is now picking up where he left off one year ago.
“I completed the Shamrock Shuffle 8k on March 30,” Crothers said. “This was a huge accomplishment because it was the race I was training to run in when the doctors discovered my condition – it feels great.”
On May 18, Crothers will join thousands at the Chicago Spring Half Marathon/10K. He will run with the National Brain Tumor Institute team alongside his physician, Dr. Jeffrey Raizer, the co-director of the Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute and the medical director of neuro-oncology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
“Every day I help care for patients who are facing the biggest challenge of their lives,” Raizer said. “The race raises money to help patients who are living with brain tumors and it supports key research initiatives, which one day may change how brain tumors are treated forever. I want to be able to offer patients like Adam hope for better outcomes, a better quality of life, and, someday, possibly a cure.”