The Miami Brain Tumor Coalition (MBTC) was founded by a small group of people who personally experienced Brain Tumors/Brain Cancer (BT/BC) in their lives.  Our founders struggled firsthand through the many difficulties of living with this family of illnesses; they learned how confusing navigating the waters of the many treatment options could be; and, they understand how lonely you can feel when faced with the immensity of a BT/BC diagnosis.  At MBTC we want you to know that you have a friend who understands what you are going through and that you are not alone in this fight.

C. D. Naranjo

My name is Charlie Naranjo, Sr., and my son 17 year old Charlie, Jr. was diagnosed with a brain tumor on August 11, 2011.  At first, his doctors were sure it was a benign polycystic astrocytoma, but on August 15th, when he underwent 6 ½ hours of brain surgery to remove the mass, they discovered he actually had a form of pediatric brain cancer known as Medulloblastoma.  We were stunned by the diagnosis and just like many of you; our lives changed in an instant and we were immediately thrust into a strange and chaotic world.

At the time, I had been a law enforcement officer in Miami for nearly 28 years.  As you might imagine because of my profession, I knew a thing or two about handling chaotic situations.  But I can tell you wholeheartedly that nothing in my career or my life up until that moment had prepared me for the many challenges that we were about to confront as a family.  Still, my experience had made me a good problem solver and I utilized those skills to help find my son the “best treatment” available for his specific tumor.

Among the many challenges that we faced in those first few days were assimilating the massive amounts of information about brain cancer and his specific type of tumor, considering the many treatment options available and finding the best place to get that treatment, and managing the visits and questions from the dozens of co-workers, friends and family well-wishers who expressed their concern and interest – all while trying to maintain our sanity and keeping my son’s spirits up.

Thankfully, our faith never diminished and by the Grace of God we persevered.  Ultimately, my son’s tumor was completely removed and after many weeks of radiation and several month of chemotherapy he is today cancer-free.  Although we still face years of scans and tests to be considered a “survivor” according to the scientists, we know in our heart of hearts that Charlie, Jr. will survive.  We have been blessed a great deal thus far in our fight against brain cancer and now our deepest desire is to help other families like ours, whose lives were change in an instant because of this mess.

Antonio F. Goitia

My name is Antonio Goitia, and I am a brain cancer survivor.  On December 28, 2009, I was diagnosed with a very advanced and aggressive form of brain cancer known as a Stage 4, Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM4).  My cancer was so advanced that the doctors gave me only three months to live.  I’ve been a fighter and a survivor all of my life so instead of going home to die, I decided to fight.

My family and I began to scour the globe for a treatment option and finally came upon the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center (PRTBTC), at Duke University.  There, I was fortunate enough to find and qualify for an experimental treatment involving a vaccine made from my own white blood cells.  I was one of only 20 people who qualified for this treatment; and, thankfully, it worked – not just for me, but also for all 20 of us.  So, here I am three very difficult years later, still alive and kicking thanks to God and the wonderful science being conducted at Duke and other research facilities around the world to advance the fight on brain cancer.  I want you to know that you too can survive.  All you have to do is keep fighting and never give up!