Written by Katie Piacentini Friday, 30 September 2011 00:00
According to the company’s mission statement, Brain Matters was created to bring awareness to the public about brain tumors; a personal mission for Heidi Gottlieb, as she is a brain tumor survivor herself. About 20 years ago, she was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor and has had two surgeries and two rounds of radiation. Gottlieb deals with many side effects – she has lost hearing in one ear, her vocal chord is paralyzed, and her vision and ability to swallow have been compromised – but she feels that she is lucky to be “still standing.”
In undertaking this important journey, called “Walking 4 Brain Matters,” Heidi Gottlieb said that she is walking because she can. This 250-mile walk is the same route she and her husband took every week for two months in 2008, so that the brain tumor she has could be treated at Mass General Hospital’s Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center with a critically important proton radiation treatment. Traveling primarily along coastal Route 1/Boston Post Road, Gottlieb will be stopping at the neighborhoods and towns along the way, reaching out to the people in these towns to share her personal experience and knowledge as a brain tumor survivor, and to continue fundraising efforts in the process.
Speaking about “Walking 4 Brain Matters” and brain cancer awareness, Heidi Gottleib said, “As a patient, I’ve learned that one of the most important things may be that while your greatest wish is to be cured, it may be just as important to stay alive long enough to take advantage of the medical advances that happen in the future until you can be cured. There are many people that are not given that chance, but I have been, and as long as I have it, I will try and shine a light on a subject that I believe is darker than it should be.”
Gottlieb, who is a television producer, intends to film the walk and interview people along the way who had their own struggles with brain cancer. It is hoped that this documentary film will also raise awareness.
Some of the funds that are raised from this walk will be donated to Massachusetts General Hospital’s Proton Therapy Center, which is one of only nine centers in the country. Heidi said that without this center, she might not be alive today. Additionally, raised funds will be donated to brain tumor research at Mass General Hospital’s Brain Tumor Research Center, as well as to other medical research for brain tumors and early detection, with the hope that one day there will be a higher survivor rate and a lower mortality rate.
For more information on Brain Matters or “Walking 4 Brain Matters,” visit the website at brain-matters.org. The itinerary of Heidi Gottlieb’s walk is also available at this website.