As a young boy, Chuck Collins would often hear his father say, “You think you’re an iron man, but you’re not.”
“But I lived that way,” admits Chuck, operations director of Rubber City Radio Group (owner of WAKR-AM, WONE-FM, WQMX-FM and WNWV-FM). “I took some risks that I probably shouldn’t have and took many things for granted.
“But when you start to feel odd things happen to you and there’s no rhyme or reason as to why, that’s when you wake up,” he adds.
In March 2013, Chuck started to feel numbness and tingling on the left side of his body. Initially, he thought he was suffering a stroke. The symptoms came and went, and then it happened again sometime later.
Eventually, Chuck went to a Summa Health System emergency room where physicians performed a CT scan. The scan revealed a “suspicious shadow” on the right side of his brain. An MRI was ordered. The shadow turned out to be glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive malignant primary brain tumor. Chuck was diagnosed with brain cancer.
“Many things run through your mind when you’re told you have a brain tumor,” he notes. “And none are good.”
But Chuck’s team at Summa Cancer Institute helped to put his mind at ease by laying out his treatment plan.
“They were careful to explain that we have to be ready,” he says. “They told me, ‘There are a lot of procedures that need to be lined up and rather than wait until we get a definitive response, we want to be ready so you can get the best treatment right away.’”
As a result, Chuck says he never experienced “a big fear” of cancer.
His treatment includes medical and radiation oncology at Cooper Cancer Center on the campus of Summa Akron City Hospital. Sameer A. Mahesh, M.D., medical oncologist, and Chirag Shah, M.D., radiation oncologist, oversee a chemotherapy-radiation regimen. Dr. Mahesh administers chemotherapy in the form of a pill, while Dr. Shah tailors a radiation plan individualized to Chuck’s case. Chemotherapy helps prevent the tumor from growing back; radiation kills the microscopic cells that may go untreated.
Chuck admits the immediate aftermath of the diagnosis was difficult. “You start to think your days are numbered,” he says. In the year since, however, Chuck continues to keep an optimistic attitude – “trying to make this bad situation as good as I could,” as he puts it.
Thanks to the team approach and individual care he receives at Summa Cancer Institute, Chuck believes there are many years of being a “pretty healthy guy” in his future. “I’m looking forward to getting back to normal,” he emphasizes.