Battling a rare form of brain cancer, Calgary dancer fights back

Rochelle Gartner has been dancing her entire life. But now, she's battling a rare form of brain cancer.

Dance teacher donates fundraiser proceeds to cancer research

More than $14,000 was raised from a February dance competition hosted by Rochelle Gartner, who is battling a rare form of brain cancer. (Terri Trembath/CBC )

Rochelle Gartner, a long-time Calgary dance teacher, handed over a cheque for $14,200 to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada Friday. 

The money was raised at a dance competition held at the end of February.

"They haven't come up with a new treatment plan for glioblastoma since 2005. So, I needed to do something," Gartner said.  

Gartner was diagnosed with Stage 4 glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer, last May. 

She underwent emergency brain surgery in June 2019 and has received nine rounds of chemotherapy.

Rochelle Gartner provided Dr. Andy Singh with the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada a cheque totaling more than $14,000. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Her father, Don Gartner, said his daughter has always had a positive attitude and watching her give back while fighting against the disease herself makes him very proud.

"Since her surgery, I've called her my little miracle," Don said.

"Rochelle has been awesome. She has weathered this particular disease with such strength."

Dr. Andy Singh with the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada said the funds will go towards researching glioblastoma multiforme, the exact type of tumour Gartner is battling.

"There is a significant amount of research missing towards brain tumours," he said. "Everyday we are trying to find better cures, better methods, which will preserve the grey matter and the white matter of the brain."

There is no cure for glioblastoma.

Gartner will continue to receive chemotherapy and go for MRIs every two months. She knows the statistics are not in her favour.

Rochelle Gartner was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme but is not allowing it to make her miss a single step. She speaks about her fortitude and legacy as her dance community prepares for an upcoming fundraiser for the next part of our Local Legends series. 2:23

"Once this chemotherapy wears out, the cancer will outsmart the chemo and it won't work anymore. I have to take a real hard look at what I'm going to do," she said.

It might mean another surgery, which could impact the dancer's eyesight.

But Gartner is choosing to stay positive.

She plans to take part in a virtual walk hosted by the Brain Tumour Foundation on June 27.

"I know how many other people are going through it. There are, I believe, 29 different types of brain cancers," Gartner said. "Unfortunately, I got the worst one. It's the most fast-growing.

"[I'll just] try and look for more opportunities to help out."


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