Herald JournalHerald Journal, Oct. 10, 2005

Brent Schott battles brain tumor with his sense of humor

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

If a sense of humor can get you through anything – Winsted’s Brent Schott has nothing to worry about.

Brent has undergone three brain surgeries since the end of August, with the most recent being Wednesday, to remove a tumor on his brain the size of a lemon. He is the son of Gary Schott of Winsted, and Cindy and Tim Emery of Garrison, located near Mille Lacs Lake, and a 1994 graduate of Lester Prairie High School.

A benefit has been set up for Brent and his wife, Becky, for Saturday, Oct. 22 at the Winsted American Legion to help offset medical costs and costs of living. Since discovery of the tumor, Brent has not been able to work at CPS Scherping Systems, where he is employed. Becky is employed at Allina as a senior analyst.

Brent said this summer, he basically lost his vision, and said driving at night was like “looking through wax paper.” Along with the vision problems came migraine headaches. He thought he was having trouble with his eyes, and went to his optometrist to be examined.

“I had a car accident in 2002. I thought the migraines were just from that,” he said.

His regular doctor sent him to Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia to have a CAT scan done, which showed something on his brain that didn’t look normal. He went in soon after that for an MRI, which revealed the tumor, which had grown to about the size of a human fist, or a lemon.

“I said ‘You’re kidding, right? I’m only 29 years old,’” Brent commented.

He began meeting with neurosurgeon Dr. Michael McCue, who earned his medical degree at Harvard Medical School. Schott’s father, Gary, joked that he looked like Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

From that point, the Schott family began coming up with humorous ways to remember the doctors and hospital staff’s names and faces.

“The doctors were real straight- forward,” Brent said. “They told me ‘This is what could happen, this is what will happen, and this is what might happen.’”

“They were all very nice,” Cindy agreed. “The doctors were very up front and helped us make informed decisions.”

The first time Brent went in for surgery, Aug. 26, doctors were able to remove just more than half of the tumor. Following surgery, Brent said his eyesight was “back to what it was before.” His headaches also were gone. With this good outcome, Brent was also giving the hospital staff a run for their money at times.

“The doctors were finally coming around to my sense of humor,” Brent said. “I suppose they didn’t know what they were dealing with at first,” he added with a laugh.

With some of the tumor still left on his brain, Brent and his family had a decision to make – another operation, radiation, or possibly both.

Ultimately, a second surgery was set up to remove more of the tumor, which was described to the Schott family as more “gelatinous” than originally thought. Another factor that came into play was that a part of it could not be removed due to its location on the brain. Because of this, Brent has to go to Abbott Northwestern Hospital for radiation, and possibly chemotherapy, to make what is left of the tumor dormant.

The type of tumor Brent has is a centralnuerocytoma, which was only discovered about 15 years ago, Cindy said, adding that it is being found more and more in younger males. Some symptoms of this type of tumor include the headaches, loss of vision, and what appears to be “laziness” or being lethargic, she said.

McCue operated on Brent’s brain for a second time Aug. 31, with successful results noted, but deficits which will require Brent to attend physical, speech, and occupational therapy.

The third surgery, that took place Wednesday, was to place a shunt, which will prevent fluid build-up on the brain. Schott is also experiencing some memory loss as a result of the surgeries. Cindy reported late last week that the surgery was a success, and Brent is expected to be able to attend the benefit taking place in his honor.

Brent said he hopes McCue can attend the benefit, and said that after many meetings and surgeries, Brent was “finally able to get him to laugh.”

Despite the seriousness of the situation, the Schott family is finding its strength in Brent’s humor, and enjoys watching him interact with the doctors and hospital staff.

Each day, one of the nurses at the hospital would come in and read Brent’s shirt, as he always wore one with a different catch phrase on it, including one of his favorites that reads “Let me drop everything and work on your problem,” Brent said with a laugh.

“They would ask where I would come up with some of these shirts, and they were surprised to hear most of them are from Wal-Mart,” he said.

Cindy said that in a situation like this, people can laugh it off, cry it off, or both – people react to situations like this differently. Cindy and Brent both noted the many “small things” that come up that normally do not even get thought about.

The family is trying to figure out a transportation arrangement to get Brent to his 28 days of radiation appointments and back home again. Brent is able to do his physical rehabilitation at St. Mary’s Care Center in Winsted, and said he makes the therapists do the exercises right along with him, noting with a laugh, “If I have to do it, they might as well do it too.”

Through his priceless sense of humor, and the support of his family and his friends, Brent knows he will make it through this, and is appreciative for everything people have done for him and Becky so far.

Benefit for Brent Schott set for Oct. 22

A benefit is set to take place Saturday, Oct. 22 at the Winsted American Legion for Brent Schott.

The Schott family is looking for donations to be given away as a part of a silent auction to help raise funds to offset Brent’s medical bills and costs of living. The auction will begin at 1 p.m. at the Legion and run until 7 p.m.

Silent auction donations can be made by contacting Brent’s sister Jennifer Lachermeier at (320) 485-3502. A dinner will also be taking place in conjunction with the silent auction, serving from 5 to 8 p.m.

Dinner will be a V’s Grill chicken dinner to be served at the Legion at a cost of $10 per adult, $6 per child five-12 years of age, and free under five with each paying adult.

Dinner RSVP is requested by calling Brent’s mother Cindy Emery, at (320) 692-4078. The family is requesting silent auction items and RSVPs by Tuesday, Oct. 18.

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