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Ivy Blog

Glioblastoma Diagnosis Leads Family To Make Every Day Meaningful

I thought we had made it through the worst.

The year 2020 was one of the hardest for my husband, Tim, and I. We were both working as nurses in a hospital treating COVID-19 patients during the height of the pandemic with three young children at home and another one on the way.

GBM patient standing in yard with his family.
Amber and Tim Jackson with their children

At the start of the new year, Tim and I were hopeful that things would start getting back to normal. Little did we know, our hardest fight yet was right around the corner.

It was February 2021, just five weeks after the birth of our fourth child. Tim was working a particularly busy shift at the hospital when he started getting a headache and feeling foggy. He took a walk around the unit with a co-worker for a quick break. In the middle of their walk, Tim collapsed and had a seizure.

When the hospital called and told me what had happened, I couldn’t believe it. Tim was only 43 years old. He was healthy, active, and had no history of seizures. I remember thinking to myself, what could have caused this?

The answer came when an MRI revealed that Tim had not only one but three brain tumors.

The next couple of days were a blur of worry and dread. Then, after a biopsy, we got the news we had been fearing most: Tim had glioblastoma, an aggressive and often deadly form of brain cancer.

That moment changed everything for us. It was like our whole world stopped. The first couple of weeks after Tim’s diagnosis were the scariest of my life. We didn’t know what to expect or what to plan for.

When we saw a surgeon about removing the tumor, she told us that it was inoperable. Tim and I were devastated, but we weren’t going to give up that easily. We had four small children who needed their dad and we were determined to fight this cancer as hard as we could.

After seeing several different doctors, one of them recommended Nader Sanai, MD, at the Ivy Brain Tumor Center at Barrow Neurological Institute. That first meeting with Dr. Sanai, with his knowledge and kindness, completely changed our perspective on the diagnosis. We walked in thinking that this was the end, and walked out with a renewed sense of hope and options ahead of us.

Brain cancer patient with his wife
Amber and Tim Jackson

Since then, Tim has had surgery to remove the tumors and has participated in two Phase 0 clinical trials at the Ivy Brain Tumor Center at Barrow. One of the things I appreciate most about the Ivy Center is they never said Tim only had a certain amount of time left to live. Instead, they’ve focused more on how they can help us live now. That has been tremendous.

After Tim’s diagnosis, we wanted to take every opportunity to be together as a family—to make every moment of every day meaningful. The Ivy Center allowed us to do that. From the very beginning, Dr. Sanai said that he would walk us through everything, but to let him do all the hard work while we focused on our family. It has been so reassuring knowing that someone is fighting for us and working so hard to ensure that Tim gets the best treatment possible. The Ivy Center has truly taken care of our entire family—they have reached out with helping hands and have enveloped us with love.

It has now been over a year since Tim’s diagnosis. He made it through Christmas, got to watch our son turn one, and was there for countless other milestones we weren’t sure he would see. I credit that to the Ivy Center.

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Ivy Brain Tumor Center at Barrow to support the loving care they offer patients and their urgent mission to find a cure for brain cancer within the decade. Your donation to help battle brain cancer will be matched, up to $250,000, by a generous donor.

While glioblastoma is an aggressive and life-changing form of cancer, it doesn’t mean that all is lost—there is still hope out there.

The Ivy Center is an embodiment of that hope. They have helped my family in ways that I can’t express. They have given me hope for the future, and I could not be more grateful.

Join me and make your tax-deductible donation today to help the Ivy Center care for brain cancer patients like my husband and families like mine. Remember, your donation will be matched! The generosity of your support will bring hope to so many. For that, I thank you.


Amber Jackson
Wife of Tim Jackson, Grateful Patient of the Ivy Brain Tumor Center at Barrow Neurological Institute

The Author

Ivy Center