Jordan Mills is a man’s man. Enlisted in the U.S. military in 2004, Jordan was deployed around the world, serving in countries as diverse as Japan, Korea and Afghanistan. But “after my first combat deployment,” Jordan says, “I started noticing odd physical changes in my body. I could barely move the left side of my face, and my left eye was almost completely closed.”
So began Jordan’s new journey to fight an enemy within his body. As a former Marine, he had been trained in combat to fight and protect against external forces. Now, an unseen enemy within threatened his life.
Jordan’s treatment team at Mayo Clinic in Arizona included Ameet C. Patel, M.D., Department of Radiology, Alyx B. Porter, M.D., Department of Neurology and Sujay A. Vora, M.D., Department of Radiation Oncology. The tumor in Jordan’s brain was diagnosed as a brain stem glioma—a highly aggressive growth near the base of the skull. The tumor compresses nearby nerves as it grows, disrupting basic body functions like motor and sensory skills, and often causing neurological disabilities as well. However, “because the brain stem is such a critical structure, the tumor location often makes surgery and even a biopsy far too dangerous,” explains Dr. Porter.
Jordan shares with us his experience fighting not one, but two brain tumors. In Part I, he explains the long road of diagnosis, treatment and recovery for his first battle with a brain stem glioma.