Ray Wenes, who survived living with a brain tumor, looks at his wife and smiles
Healthy Living

Living with a Brain Tumor: Ray’s Story

May 20 2019

Mercy Health brings hope for one patient and his family who face the diagnosis of a brain tumor

On the way to a work appointment, a drive that would normally take him 30 minutes, Ray Wene of Loveland, Ohio, started to realize that something was seriously wrong. He knew he needed to turn left but he couldn’t complete the maneuver. He kept turning right instead. When Ray called his wife Tina lost and confused on the way to his work meeting, she thought he was having a stroke related to his recent diabetes diagnosis.

Odd things had been happening to Ray before a visit to the doctor revealed high blood sugar levels. He had been keeping score at his daughter’s softball game when he suddenly realized he couldn’t draw a straight line. Ray experienced severe headaches and a limp that developed on his right side. He wasn’t himself.

“He just seemed off. His personality wasn’t quite him,” recalls Tina. “He got quiet and that’s not Ray. Usually, he’s the jokester.”

Ray finally arrived at his meeting two hours late. The people who Ray had a meeting with could tell something was wrong and rushed him to the emergency department at Mercy Health – West Hospital, where he had a CT scan. It showed something serious and Ray was transferred to The Jewish Hospital – Mercy Health where the couple learned that Ray had a golf ball-sized brain tumor. It was a glioblastoma, an aggressive grade IV tumor that can spread into other parts of the brain quickly.

Ray’s brain tumor affected some of his cognitive functions

“These tumors are insidious,” says neurosurgeon Vince DiNapoli, MD, PhD, who is the Medical Director of Mercy Health’s Brain Tumor Center, located at The Jewish Hospital. “They live within the brain itself and are enmeshed in the normal brain.”

Ray’s tumor was affecting his frontal lobe, which is responsible for cognitive functions such as personality/emotions and problem-solving.

“Because of the size of the mass that he had, our recommendation was for surgery fairly urgently,” says Dr. DiNapoli.

After a course of steroids to reduce swelling, he performed surgery on Ray four days later.

“You are just kind of thrown into this when you are going through brain cancer,” says Ray. “You don’t even know what questions to ask. Dr. DiNapoli just made us feel so calm and relaxed.”

“The staff here was just incredible. We made lifelong friends. The team at The Jewish Hospital has really walked alongside us down this road,” says Tina. “We would be absolutely lost without them.”

Ray’s perspective on life changed for the better

Ray noted that he felt incredible following surgery and he emerged with a different perspective on life.

“I look at things a lot differently now,” says Ray. “There’s nothing more important than obviously today.”

“He’s my best friend. He’s my rock. He’s my strength,” says Tina, who together with Ray and their children have prioritized spending time together. “We took it for granted, so that’s what I look forward to – making memories.”

Given the nature of glioblastomas, Ray does face an ongoing battle, but there’s hope.

“Ray has some very favorable genetic mutations in his tumor that make it more susceptible and amenable to the treatments we provide, so that’s good news,” says Dr. DiNapoli.

Visit our website for more information about brain cancer and treatment.

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