Diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer, Lakewood man says raising awareness is his best hope

Denise Dador Image
Friday, April 14, 2023
Diagnosed with brain cancer, Lakewood man aims to raise awareness
After being diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer, Lakewood resident Mark Epstein says that raising awareness of glioblastoma is his best hope.

LAKEWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- Glioblastoma is one of the most difficult brain cancers anyone could ever face.

High-profile patients such as Ted Kennedy, Beau Biden and John McCain keep it in the headlines. But it surprises many to learn that funding for research is quite low compared to other cancers.

One newly-diagnosed man would like to help change that.

For 15 years, Mark Epstein of Lakewood has been a generous sponsor of ABC7's annual "Spark of Love" toy drive. But shortly after the Christmas toy drive, Epstein started experiencing dizziness, headaches and sinus issues.

Emergency room doctors discovered a two-inch brain mass that turned out to be stage 4 glioblastoma.

Facebook: Fundraiser for National Brain Tumor Society by Mark Epstein

"If you wanted to have the worst type of brain cancer, it's glioblastoma. It's the worst. It's terminal," said Epstein.

"We have a little girl who is six. She'll be seven tomorrow. To know he may not see her grow up and be there for her was really shocking," said his wife Ruth Epstein.

"Brain cancer really can affect anyone at any time. There's no prevention or early detection like the way there is with other cancers," said David Arons, CEO of the National Brain Tumor Society.

Glioblastoma kills 10, 000 Americans every year. But hope is on the horizon. Arons said in the last six years, researchers have unlocked many clues about the characteristics of brain tumors and how to attack them.

"Now we're looking at immunotherapy approaches, unique medicines designed just to target particular types of brain tumors," Arons said.

Twelve-year-old Jaxon Toner was diagnosed with an extremely rare form brain cancer that only 7,000 kids in the world have. A charity walk in Griffith Park this Saturday will help to raise money for people impacted by the disease.

But much more research is needed to help prolong survival. One medical therapy Epstein is counting on is a portable device called the Optune. It emits low level electric fields that can slow down or stop cancer cell division. Whatever time it buys, Epstein plans to use to help others battling brain cancer.

Staying positive is the most important thing you can do in this," he said.

Epstein is taking part in the Southern California Brain Tumor Walk and Race Saturday in Griffith Park and he wants others to join him.

"We're just hoping more people come again to this whole walk this weekend to raise money," he said.

Working on this important cause is what gives Epstein and his wife hope.

"Just trying to stay strong and positive, That's all you can do. You just got to stay positive," Epstein said.