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One symptom changed a man’s life forever

In June 2013, Stan Thain sat down in his recliner to check his email when he realized he was unable to read the words on his computer screen. “I had dyslexia, which I’d never had before,” he explains. “That was the first and, really, the only symptom I’ve ever had, was dyslexia.”

Thain’s wife said she hoped it was simply an ocular migraine causing the problem. When the couple went to see an ophthalmologist, the doctor ruled out an ocular migraine, but told Thain there was something behind his eyes. “I called my family physician immediately and they said, ‘You need to go to the ER,’” he says.

A trip to the emergency department

Within just a few minutes of Thain’s evaluation, the Piedmont Fayette Hospital emergency department staff called a stroke code, which alerts appropriate hospital staff that a patient in the ED is having a stroke. “Things escalated very quickly from there,” Thain says.

The emergency medicine physician immediately sent Thain for a CT scan, which showed a 3-centimeter bleed on his brain. An ambulance rushed him to Piedmont Atlanta. “I was thinking brain tumor,” he remembers. “That’s what I expected. But I guess you kind of expect the worst in situations like that.”


Thain was then admitted to the neuro intensive care unit for surgery with neurosurgical oncologist Howard Chandler Jr., M.D. “The surgery and recovery were absolutely amazing,” Thain says. “I was so impressed.”

Dr. Chandler told him brain surgery is usually a “clean” surgery and he would likely be able to go home within a few days. “When I came out, it was almost like I hadn’t been in surgery,” he says. “I had no bandages, just a beautiful French braid incision.”

The diagnosis

The day after the surgery, Dr. Chandler delivered some devastating news: Thain had stage IV glioblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer that is difficult to treat. The average prognosis for this type of cancer is 1.5 years, Dr. Chandler said.

Making the most of his time

Since receiving his diagnosis, Thain continues to work every day, catching squirrels, armadillos and snakes at his humane nuisance wildlife control company. “I’m working every day, up on ladders and so forth,” says Thain. “The treatment apparently is working.”

His Piedmont experience

“My care at Piedmont was absolutely outstanding, from the ER visit through the surgery and treatment,” says Thain. “I could not say enough about the Cancer Center and the radiation oncology department.”

Despite his prognosis, Thain is determined to think positively every day. “I told my family, ‘Okay, we got bad news, but whatever time I have left, I don’t want to sit around and be miserable. Let’s enjoy whatever time there is,’” he says. “I just try to be as positive as possible and I really think it makes a lot of difference.”

For more information on brain tumor treatment at Piedmont, click here.

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