‘Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional’

Jessica Sprowl

Faith keeps cancer survivor fighting

Cancer survivor Isaac Perkins, assistant compliance director for the athletic department, walks the survivors’ lap Saturday on the track at the Relay for Life event. The event started off with cancer survivors doing the lap in celebration of their victor

Credit: Beth Rankin

Stressing out over finals, getting to class and work on time, attempting to find time to sleep and still trying have a social life usually makes students crazy enough.

For one student, however, those are just petty worries.

Isaac Perkins, assistant compliance director of the athletic department, is one of the 20 known people diagnosed with Primary Sarcoma of the brain.

Perkins attended this weekend’s Relay for Life for the survivors’ lap around the track.

After sharing his experience in a journal on the Relay for Life Web site, Perkins hopes to write a book on his life.

“I don’t care if research says I only have about a 10 percent chance of living, I have too much to accomplish,” Perkins said.

“I want others to not be afraid to share their stories and to allow people to help and support them,” he said.

Perkins will not find out for another month if his last surgery was successful.

“I just want to thank the university community in supporting us in this difficult time,” Perkins said. “Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional.”

In 1998, after graduating from Grove City High School, Perkins attended Kent State, where he was a triple jumper and captain for the track team and received a championship ring in 2000.

Perkins went straight through college to gain his master’s in sports administration.

“On Aug. 28, 2004, while I was working out at the recreation center, I noticed there was something wrong with my vision, and on Aug. 30, the first day of classes, I found myself lying on an operating table, having a mass the size of a golf ball removed from my brain,” Perkins said.

Perkins was told the mass was malignant, and that it was Primary Sarcoma, which makes up only one percent of all cancers. It is a very aggressive cancer that usually attacks muscle tissues and the bones.

Doctors first believed Perkins must have had Primary Sarcoma in other parts of his body to explain why it was in his brain, but all tests came back negative.

About one month later, the Cleveland Clinic found the mass had grown back to the size of a golf ball, and on Oct. 13, Perkins found himself undergoing his second operation.

“One week later, after my craniotomy surgery, I went through an intense six weeks of radiation,” Perkins said.

For his January checkup, Perkins received a clean bill of health. However, on Easter Sunday, Perkins suffered from several seizures.

Perkins now is not allowed to drive for six months and lost part of his peripheral vision in his right eye because of the seizures.

“It was pretty bad — I bit my tongue and chipped my tooth,” Perkins said.

After the incident, doctors found three new spots of Sarcoma, and Perkins had his third surgery April 15.

While the doctors were operating, they also removed a fourth spot.

Perkins and his wife of almost two years, Jaci, went to high school together and started dating after attending Perkins’ senior Valentine’s Day dance together.

“This has probably been harder on my wife than me,” Perkins said.

Being a year behind Perkins, Jaci followed him to Kent and will be graduating in May with her master’s in guidance counseling.

“My wife has been so supportive through all of this. God created us for one another. We feed off of each other’s strengths and complete each other,” Perkins said.

Right now, specialists in New York and Texas are reviewing Perkins’ case to determine the best methods for treating his cancer.

“The main thing that has gotten me through is my faith in God and my wife and our friends,” Perkins said.

Contact social services reporter Jessica Sprowl at [email protected].