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Valley nurse and father diagnosed with brain cancer determined to 'get better'

Tim Jackson
Posted at 4:33 PM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 22:27:37-04

An East Valley nurse diagnosed with brain cancer is not giving up hope. Tim Jackson, 43, is a father of four kids ranging from 10 years old to 4 months old. He's been a nurse for more than a decade, and it was at work in February where he had a seizure and his life changed forever.

"Woke up a day later and learned I'd been diagnosed with three brain tumors," said Tim Jackson.

He has glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. It's the most common malignant brain tumor in adults.

"It was a whirlwind, everything topsy turvy, turned upside down," said Tim.

He and his wife Amber, also a nurse, decided to try an experimental drug by participating in a clinical trial at the Ivy Brain Tumor Center at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's in Phoenix.

The center is a non-profit translational research program that works to identify new treatments for aggressive brain tumors, including glioblastoma.

Dr. Nader Sanai is the director of the center, and he said Tim is one of the first 12 patients in the trial.

"The drug is called pamiparib," he said. "Combining that new drug with radiation and hopefully getting a different response than most patients with this kind of cancer."

"We're going to be able to help people, we're excited about that," said Tim.

Tim and Amber said they're taking it one day at a time, focusing on their family.

"Every day, try to create some moment that is happiness and not related to cancer or brain tumors or something," said Tim.

"I know more than anything he wants them to know who their dad is. Whether we get a year together, 10 years together, they're never going to forget who their dad is," said Amber.

Tim said he's optimistic, and that the trial is the best chance they have.

"To make sure we did everything we could to knock this out and have a happy life," said Tim. "We've got to trust that we'll get better, and we're going to do this. We're going to do it."

Learn more about the clinical trial of pamiparib here.

Learn more about the Ivy Brain Tumor Center here.