A veteran of the United States Army and Navy, Daniel returned to civilian life with a combination of symptoms that led to a diagnosis of a Traumatic Brain Injury – when, in fact, there was an orange-sized tumor in his brain. As his symptoms progressed, Daniel was subsequently diagnosed with a schwannoma, a nervous system tumor that is often benign, but whose growth can cause serious side effects. His first surgery, which lasted 12 hours, resulted in Daniel having to re-learn the basics of everyday life, such as walking and talking.
Daniel continued to receive care, and ultimately moved to Northeast Florida to take his dream job with K9s For Warriors, a national non-profit that provides Service Dogs for wounded military veterans – and where Daniel had received his own life-saving Service Dog, Sigma. Working with the VA, Daniel struggled to find a specialist with the experience and knowledge of his rare tumor type. After a friend introduced him to Brain Tumor Network, Daniel was paired with Neuro-Oncology Nurse Navigator Jenna Tozzi.
“Jenna was in constant contact with me. She was able to collect all my medical records and get me an appointment with a specialist at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville to be evaluated,” Daniel recalls. “This 30-minute appointment provided me with more information and reassurance than I found in two surgeries and months of seeing a specialist.” Along with facilitating Daniel’s appointment at Mayo Clinic, Jenna also educated Daniel on his diagnosis and how to manage unwanted side effects from the tumor.
For now, Daniel’s tumor remains stable, and he will only need periodic check-ins with his specialist. In the meantime, he has gotten back to living his most fulfilling life: in October, he married the love of his life, surrounded by his three sons and Sigma the Service Dog.