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Keeping the Faith




Submitted by:
Lynda McGahan

Thomas DeMarse ~father, son, brother, sailor, Research Assistant Professor of Neurology, brain tumor patient at UNC, my love, and our inspiration When Tom experienced double vision and unsteady gait in March 2019, an MRI revealed midbrain lesions. Following a biopsy by Dr. Ewend, Tom was diagnosed with anaplastic astrocytoma, a high-grade glioma. After starting treatment, Tom suffered a gastric bleed and underwent chemoradiotherapy, physiotherapy, occupational and speech therapy as an inpatient. Following further complications, Tom underwent inpatient rehabilitation supported by family and friends. A year later, possibly owing to a methylated MGMT promoter, the lesions have decreased in size with treatment. Despite Tom’s diagnosis, he persevered in getting back to the lab and works from home due to limited mobility. As part of a research team at UNC, Tom investigates how neural networks become dysfunctional in Alzheimer disease and how a new intervention may prevent disease development and cognitive decline. Throughout hospitalization and treatment, Tom kept in touch with team members and their progress. In the face of his own disease and limitations, he is determined to improve the lives of others. While his wife and daughter live in Canada, and his parents and sister live out of state, Tom courageously attends follow-up appointments solo, despite Covid-19 restrictions. He continues physiotherapy to improve his strength and mobility. We express our heartfelt thanks to Dr. Khagi’s team at the UNC Brain Tumor Program for excellent care, members of the Neurology Department who contributed leave during Tom’s treatment, and family and friends for their prayers and support. Tom’s strength, optimism, determination, resilience, love of life, and dreams for the future continually inspire us. By sharing his story, we hope it inspires others to keep the faith in the face of adversity. In faith, hope, and gratitude ~Lynda, Lauryn, family and friends