In Memory of John Foster McKenna

Defy the Odds Lifestyle brand / Fly Elephant Clothing
Defy the Odds Lifestyle brand / Fly Elephant Clothing

On January 3rd, 2013 the Mckenna family learned the life changing news that John Mckenna, at only 22 years old, had one of the most aggressive brain cancers and only 15 months to live. So many mixed emotions of fear, sadness, and disbelief were racing through the family’s minds. Would John get to walk across the stage at his college graduation? Would he live to see his first job? Would he live to see the new year?

Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) is a cancer that affects glial cells in the brain, which are essential for life as they protect, support, and nourish nerve cells. John was diagnosed with stage four GBM, for which there is a 4% five year survival rate. Despite the dismal prognosis, John met his cancer head on. He graduated and walked with his class, found a job, and enrolled in a cutting edge brain cancer trial at Duke University. The trials at Duke are exceedingly optimistic. The response in patients who have been given this treatment is overwhelming. Only five individuals have qualified for the trial as it is very new. Eight months after treatment, two of the five individuals are now clinically normal, with little to no tumor. They have defied the odds and resumed their lives and are no longer in any form of treatment.

Unfortunately, John was not one of those five patients-- his tumor was in the wrong location to receive the virus. After successfully fighting the cancer for over a year, it stopped responding to treatment. He was entered into a new trial, but after an aggressive surgery last July, the tumor exploded. 19 months after his diagnosis he is living his final days at home. There has been overwhelming support from friends and family. Although his life has been short, he has touched many hearts. He spent the last year of his life going to Warriors games, traveling, and enjoying lots of good food and good company. He will be adored and remembered by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.  

Please do not let John become another statistic. He fought too long and hard for that. Living four months longer than originally predicted, he defied his odds and made the most of his life. This is the end for him, but it does not have to be for others. The research conducted at the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center is very promising, not only for brain cancer, but for all forms of cancer. Please join the fight and help support brain cancer research at Duke University. It will truly make a difference.

Sadly, in the early morning hours of August 8th, John lost his courageous battle with cancer. Our prayers and support go out to his family and friends. Please show your regards by donating whatever you can to the link below to help further patients defy the odds against John’s condition. Additionally, we at Fly Elephant will donate a portion of our online sales to the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center throughout the entire month of September. Thank you and keep the McKenna family in your prayers!

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