FRUITPORT, Mich. — A West Michigan family is asking people to “go gray” this month after their loved one died from glioblastoma.
Those who knew Craig Jones best describe him as a fighter.
“He was driven by setting goals, and he was just motivated to try to live life,” said Brandy Jones, Craig’s wife and high school sweetheart.
A veteran turned husband and father of two, who enjoyed all things outdoors especially hunting alongside his dog, there are few moments in the Fruitport native’s life in which the trait didn’t characterize him.
It’s the way Craig carried himself until the end.
“In his mind, he was going to fight and he wanted to beat this beast,” said Brandy Jones.
In January 2018, doctors diagnosed Craig with a grade-four glioblastoma, or terminal brain cancer.
“I think I was just in shock for a while, but then it was hard throughout the journey to watch him and see little pieces of him starting to go slowly,” said Brandy Jones.
His wife says the diagnosis came after he experienced two seizures.
The National Brain Tumor Society lists those, along with headaches, difficulty thinking and speaking, and changes in personality as some of the most common symptoms of one.
May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month.
Nationally, primary brain tumors impact 700,000 people.
Roughly 70 percent are benign and 30 percent are malignant. The five-year survival rate for malignant tumors is 36 percent, but 7 percent for glioblastoma tumors, which are the most common form of primary malignant brain tumors.
According to the organization, brain tumors represent the highest per-patient initial cost of care for any cancer group, with mean net costs approaching $150,000. There are few treatment options too, with only five FDA-approved drugs and one device. Surgery and radiation remain the standard of care.
Craig received a prognosis of just 14 months to live, but in true fashion, he fought and nearly doubled the amount of time professionals gave him. His wife says he used it to live out his bucket list, hunting all over and even taking a road trip with his family to Yellowstone.
“It was just a lot of bonding time for us,” said Brandy Jones. “We visited a lot of different areas. It was fun.”
Last March, Craig passed away.
“I still have all the memories of him from all the years we were together, the things that we have been through, and so, I hold on to that, but it’s hard because we miss him every single day,” said Jones.
It’s not the outcome wanted, but over a year later and during the month of advocacy, his family hopes Craig’s fighting spirit can still live on by pushing people in similar situations.
“For him, I would like to see that be his legacy--to inspire people to not to give up, to continue to fight,” said Brandy Jones.