Help UT PhD student Josh Hodge fight brain cancer!

For: Josh Hodge
Birmingham, AL
Organizer: Erica Spencer
Help UT PhD student Josh Hodge fight brain cancer! (Josh Hodge)
$36,223
of $50,000 goal
72% Complete
Raised by 269 donors

The Story

Josh is a loving husband and father to our sweet 22 month old Hazel. His diagnosis of Stage 4 Glioblastoma brain cancer comes on the heels of a complicated pregnancy, the loss of Hazel's twin sister, Harper, and Hazel's diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy.

Josh is recovering from surgery in Birmingham where they were able to remove the tumor successfully but unfortunately, there is a long battle ahead and significant ongoing medical expenses.

Treatment will take place in Birmingham, at UAB, while Josh continues to write his dissertation with UT Knoxville.

You have asked how you can help.  In addition to the calls, cards, pictures, thoughts and prayers we have set up this site. Your financial support will go straight to Josh's medical bills and recovery.

We love you all!!! 

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on March 21, 2018

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Posted on March 21, 2018

Dear friends and supporters,

Once again, I've left you all hanging for an update for some time. Developments in my cancer have been much the same, which is very good news. After my latest MRI--the third in this "maintenance" phase of chemotherapy--I can say that the scan still shows no sign of cancer. This is great news, of course, and we are happy to share this news with you!

At my last doctor's visit, I did ask my oncologist whether I had any cancer cells present in my brain. He assumes that I do, but pointed to the lack of their appearance on my MRIs as a more important indicator of how I'm doing. The goal of this treatment is "remission," and I seem to be well on my way. But I am not there yet. The monthly chemotherapy treatments will continue for the remainder of the year, at which point I will hopefully be declared officially "in remission." 

As for my professional life, the seeds we have sown in years of graduate education are coming to fruition. My adviser and I recently secured a book contract with the Univ. of Tennessee Press about Knoxville's famous (or infamous) grocer-politician-millionaire Cas Walker. For an all-encompassing tidbit, Dolly Parton's first television appearance was on Walker's "Farm and Home Hour." The book includes many stories from the Cas Walker Stories oral history project and will also print many newspaper articles and archival materials regarding Walker's life and legend in the city. 

Furthermore, I have applied and won a fellowship from UT's Humanities Center, which will fund the final year of my dissertation research and writing in Knoxville. Erica and I are delighted to return to K-town and hopefully shake this rather tragic year we've experienced from our memories. 

Hazel is also doing quite well, too. She is walking and talking all the time. She finally has a nice head of hair which remains short in the front and curls at its ends on the back of her neck. You heard it right... a mullet; "business in the front, party in the back." That's my girl! (The picture included with this update is of Hazel checking our grocery list).

Thanks, again, for all of your support. The messages from friends and strangers especially have been revitalizing for me and Erica. While I do not think this debt can be repaid, we will try our best. 

All love,

Josh


Posted on November 8, 2017

Posted on November 8, 2017

Dear friends,

I wanted to write to tell you some good news that we received at my latest doctor visit. After the surgery, having a six-week round of chemo and radiation, and a four-week break from that initial round, I had my first MRI evaluation. That scan came back completely clear. Dr. Nabors, my neuro-oncologist, was quite pleased, as were we.

Since that scan I am in the "maintenance" phase of chemotherapy, where I take five days worth of chemo every month roughly. I will continue to have MRI scans every two months for the foreseeable future, and probably for the rest of my life. Hopefully I will be cleared by this time next year to end treatments altogether, until a recurrence of course.  

My diagnosis of grade 4 Glioblastoma was initially explained to me to be an "aggressive" and "incurable" cancer, which I have noted here before. But thanks to evolution in medicine, particularly studies with genetics, drug trials, and potential cures, it may be that my condition might turn from a terminal illness to a "chronic condition," to use the doctor's words. My radiation oncologist explained to me that even the diagnostics are changing. He showed me a particular set of results, which he might have diagnosed as grade 2 Glioblastoma instead from those results alone. Long story short, this disease and its treatments are rapidly changing for the better, it seems, and I hope to come out on the positive side of these changes.  

I am so hopeful to live a long life, so willing to spend it with my wife and daughter, and so wanting to live in a meaningful way that contributes to a larger sense of community. While I want to engage totally with this idea that all will be well eventually, chances are I will have some sort of recurrence whether in the form of more cancer cells or another tumor. It will come sooner or later, but I refuse to believe that this disease will end my life, however naive that may be.  

Perhaps I will live a long life, but that life will probably require further cancer treatments, trials, or brain surgery. I welcome these things. It is, in fact, a small price to pay, especially if it gives me more time with my family, to touch more lives, to perpetuate ideas of equality, fairness, and charity, and to have more time to shape my daughter's life in complete cooperation with my wonderful wife. 

I'm probably wandering here, but wanted you all to know how much we have appreciated your support. Erica, Hazel, and I have been making the most of our time in Birmingham, and your contributions, cards, and support have done so much to fill our spirits. Please continue to share our story and we will continue to attest to your love. 

All the best,

Josh Hodge



Posted on October 22, 2017

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Posted on October 22, 2017

Hi everyone,

It has been several weeks since we last updated this page. In that time I have been on a break from both radiation and chemotherapy, and we've had some awesome experiences. 


The Auburn Athletics department welcomed Erica and me, John and Allyson Martin, and Travis and Mindy Bernhardt to the Ole Miss football game several weeks ago. We arrived around 8:30am and visited the Athletics facility before walking through the Tiger Walk path just before the players arrived. Inside the stadium we stood at the end zone for an hour, took pictures, and wondered at the concrete frame that is Jordan-Hare Stadium. Gus Malzahn came over to speak and he is exceptionally tall in person. He and I had a nice talk, for sure, even though I was trying to give input to the game plan for the day. They served us lunch in the press-box area and we returned to the field for team warm-ups. They took pictures of us with the Eagle after his flight and they escorted us to decent seats. What a wonderful time. We are so thankful to the Auburn Athletics Department, Coach Gus Malzahn, and the Auburn family for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 


Erica and I also took Hazel on her first trip to the Gulf of Mexico a week later. She had the greatest time. She didn't like the sand at first, but raved about the waves once she hit the water. It was a short few days, and we were happy to have a couple of my colleagues from UTK, but it did not last long enough. I guess it never does... and that's a good thing. 


Next Monday, October 30, 2017, I'll return to UAB to have an MRI and meet with both the neuro- and radiation-oncologists. Hopefully the scan will have positive news, but the main point is to establish a "base line" as my treatment moves forward. As of what I know now, I will take chemotherapy pills for roughly five days a month for the next year or so. Treatments thus far have been mild and I expect them to continue to be. We are certainly happy for that.   


Allow me to thank everyone for their support, financially and emotionally, as we continue down the cancer-treatment path. Though we have had an awesome month, there have been times of struggle for me and for Erica - and for us together. Luckily Hazel has seemed undisturbed by all of our movement and the quick pace of life these days. But her parents have continued to be immersed in those modes of depression, anger, gratitude, denial, and love -- in different ways and at different times -- as we continue to deal with life after diagnosis. It's not to say that it has been all bad. Our love for life and for one another has been forged by a hot fire, and we appreciate everyone who has offered us a place to stay, baby-sitting help, food, and love. All of it sustains us. All of it gives us hope and confidence in the future and in ourselves. 


As usual, please continue to share our story. It's a tragic tale, arguably, but one that continues to produce love and hope in ways that are too numerous to count. For us and for others. Please continue to contribute where you feel moved, and please keep paying it forward.  


With love and admiration for all of you,

Josh 



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