East Bay mother battling rare brain cancer inspires others through her strength, fight

- Sarah Aronson is a regular at Diablo Crossfit. She can’t do all of the movements, but that doesn’t impact the inspiration she radiates due to her relentless fight against a rare brain cancer. 

Aronson has Glioblastoma. The cancer grows quickly and right now there’s no cure. It started two years ago when numbness in her leg led to an MRI that revealed a mass just a few days before her 34th birthday. Aronson was scheduled for surgery immediately.

The surgeons removed about 90 percent of the mass in the first surgery and Aronson was back home by her birthday. But then more tests led to devastating news.

“I just remember my sister was sitting next to me and my doctor said it’s a Glioblastoma. My sister gasped and then I knew,” Aronson said. “I knew it wasn’t great, and then the doctor asked, ‘well, how much do you want to know?’”

Aronson wanted to know everything, unsurprisingly. The doctor proceeded to tell her there’s no cure, but added there are ways to extend her life. Aronson was told the median life expectancy for this diagnosis is 14-16 months.

“When you hear that you think, ‘I have one of everything left,’” Aronson said, as she envisioned one more birthday with her twins and one more wedding anniversary with her husband Eric Aronson. 
This manner of thinking lasted about a week.

“It was probably a week or two, and then she started swinging,” said Aronson. “She’d say: ‘I’m not going to lay down and just let this happen. I’m going to do everything I can,’” said Aronson.

It’s been 25 months since Sarah Aronson’s diagnosis and she’s still fighting back. She started a Facebook page called “GlioblastOMG, Sarah and her terrible, horrible, no good, very bad cancer.” She talks about everything from her injections to chemo to heartbreaking setbacks.

And two of those setbacks deal with the cancer’s return. Twice it has come back, and both times around February. But on her page, the tear-jerking updates are accompanied by her encouraging fight. She educates people on what’s helping her push back, like the battery powered device she wears on her head that interrupts how brain cell can form. 

“My kids hate it, so I do wear a scarf when we are in public,” Aronson said, speaking to the fairly new technology. “I have to shave my head completely every three or four days.”

And while this battle is personal, making it public is part of fighting back. And part of that urge to publically fight is that brain cancer is not discussed as much as other cancers, according to Eric Aronson.

“You got the pink ribbon for breast cancer and all of that, and they pretty much have all the control,” Aronson said. “But brain cancer, you can’t just cut that off. It’s not well-known and there’s not a lot of money being donated to it.”

For the Aronsons, this is a new normal. It’s not the life they thought they’d have. Cancer stole that. But Sarah has found a strength in the face of adversity. And her participation at the CrossFit gym helps tremendously.

“I usually have better days when I go to the gym,” Aronson said.

And while at her gym she inspires, the people she surrounds herself with work to remind her she’s not alone. They recently threw her a birthday party – one her doctors warned she might not make it to.

Right now she’s set on defying the odds and proving everyone wrong. She said it’s her mission. Every time the no cure phrase surfaces she reminds herself that one may be developed. All she has to do is stay alive long enough to receive it. And the fierce strength mostly stems from one place: her kids.

“I just want to see them graduate kindergarten,” Aronson said through her tears. “I want to see them go to junior high, just see the milestones.” 
 

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