by Laurene McKillop, PhD
What better kind of day to walk than a bright, late summer day, crispy cool in the morning and warming up as the Walk proceeds? “Crispy cool” lets you know that I wasn’t on the east coast: this was the Detroit Walk, held on August 7th, 2010.
I arrived early, along with my University of Michigan daughter, Tess, so that we could “help out.” Not a chance! Dozens of people already had it covered. Registration tables, food tables, shirts, snacks, arches—it was all under control, thanks to the marvelous work of Denise and Jenn Bechard, co-chairs of the Annual Hydrocephalus Walk in Detroit, and the Detroit-area team.
Just one thing missing, and that was Jenn Bechard. Valiantly fighting up to the last moment, Jenn acknowledged on Saturday that she was indeed feeling poorly. Sunday morning, when we were preparing for our Walk to raise money for hydrocephalus research and support, Jenn was preparing for—-brain surgery. Her 91st brain surgery, to be precise.
I felt a bit like a character in a movie, except that the plot would have been criticized for being unrealistic. “Young woman and her family and friends work like maniacs to create a fantastic fund-raising and awareness-raising event to eliminate the challenges of hydrocephalus, except young woman isn’t there because she has to have revision surgery.” Hokey, right? But true. Too true.
I am happy to say that all is well. The Detroit Walk was fantastic and Jenn came through her surgery well. Detroit raised more money for hydrocephalus than they ever had before and at last count, it is still coming in! But isn’t there something wrong when our best available treatment hasn’t done the job -–91 times?
We need better treatment options and even more, we need a cure. Let’s keep pushing.