By Theresa Edwards Makrush
When patients complete their course of proton therapy at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, they ring Aud’s Chime in The Players Lobby. Often their friends and family are there to help celebrate the moment along with fellow patients and caregivers. Applause, hugs, and smiles always accompany the sound of the chime.
A recent “graduate,” as patients who complete treatment are called, had an extraordinary group assembled for his chime-ringing day. Brian Kernohan, a lieutenant with 15 years of experience at the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, was surrounded by an estimated 100 fellow firefighters and first responders. News crews from three local TV stations were there to capture the remarkable scene. (See news stories at news4jax, actionnewsjax and firstcoastnews.)
The outpouring of support was overwhelming, said Brian’s wife Katie. “I don’t know of any other company that is this supportive. We are grateful and overjoyed,” she said. “We love everyone here. They are such an encouragement.”
Brian said that two weeks before Thanksgiving he was suffering from intense head pain and went to the emergency room at a local hospital. After receiving the results of an MRI less than 24 hours later, the 36-year-old was told he needed surgery to remove a rare medulloblastoma brain tumor that is more typical in children under the age of 10. Following a successful surgery, Brian had 30 proton therapy sessions to target radiation in the area where the tumor was removed as part of a treatment plan that may also include chemotherapy.
According to Brian, having a positive attitude has helped him cope with treatment, along with the support of his family members and coworkers he thinks of as family. “My brothers really stepped up today,” he said as he looked out at the smiling faces lining the spiral staircase from top to bottom.