Families of local glioblastoma patients make big sacrifices to ensure the best medical care

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. - For several weeks, we've told you stories about more than 30 people living in St. Lucie County with glioblastoma. 

They all share different personal stories, but one thing they all have in common is seeking the best possible care to have the best chance of extending their life.

And all families are making sacrifices to get as much time as possible added to their loved ones' life. 

For the Cunningham family, that means the bills are mounting. 

Some weeks, Stephanie Cunningham will drive her husband, Mark, six hours a day, multiple times a week, for just an hour of treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. 

That's where they've decided to seek treatment, putting their full trust and time in the doctors at Moffitt.

But those days aren't easy.

"Sometimes it takes a lot to get him going," Stephanie said.

Those days start early, getting her 6-year-old daughter, Kendal, ready for school. Kendal also helps her mom get Mark ready to travel.

“I’ve learned to be really patient. Even my 6-year-old daughter has learned to be really patient. But it is tough some times," Stephanie said.

Mark's glioblastoma slows his pace. His memory is fading. 

“Today was a good day, because sometimes we actually get in the car and he’ll want to get out of the car and go brush his teeth. Well, that’s the third time he’s brushed his teeth.”

Wednesday, the Cunninghams made the drive to Tampa to check in some of Mark's symptoms. 

“Today he has a follow up because of the vomiting," Stephanie said.

They met with multiple doctors for an hour. 

“It’s a difficult diagnosis," said Dr. Sahebjam. She said she, too, would like to know if something is causing glioblastoma cases is St. Lucie County. 

Mark is exceeding expectations for the disease, marking two years, this week, since his diagnosis.

He and his family hope the sacrifices they're making will continue to buy them time.

“Especially now, you just never know every day you wake up if that’s going to be your last day," Mark said.

Mark's next appointment is in three weeks, giving the Cunningham family a break, for now, on traveling, so long as they can manage his symptoms. 

If you know of someone in the Fort Pierce area with glioblastoma, please contact reporter Meghan McRoberts at meghan.mcroberts@wptv.com.

A GoFundMe account has been created to help the Cunninghams. 

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