Cousins’ Battles

Glory’s cousin, Michael Gensch, died at an early age of seventeen after battling a seventeen month fight against a mixed germ cell tumor located on the stalk of the pituitary gland.

Michael tolerated unbearable pain through numerous surgeries, chemotherapies and radiation treatments. Upon early detection, Michael faced his disease with dignity and tremendous courage. He possessed the young’s exuberance for life always stating  “how badly I want to live”. Michael was a vibrant and brilliant young man. He was an outstanding student in his school’s gifted program. His quick wit and sense of humor made him a favorite among his peers. Throughout Michael’s treatments his family pursued the best treatments that were available. At the same time, the family diligently dedicated themselves to keeping Michael’s life as normal as possible. Michael’s parents faced an emotional nightmare. Through the department of Genetics it was the family’s understanding after losing Michael that this specific cancer was an isolated occurrence. Michael’s siblings would mature to adulthood never having to worry about the disease that took their brothers life.

But in 2004, at the age of twenty, Michael’s older brother, Ryan, was diagnosed with a mixed germ cell tumor to the mediastium. Ryan not having any symptoms other than a lower backache was subjected to numerous surgeries. Due to advanced metastatic to the spine, Ryan today suffers from lower extreme paralysis. Ryan is a miracle to his family and also the Genitourinary Center at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. At the time of diagnosis he was given a very poor prognosis, but has beaten the odds. He is seen every three months at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for labs and CAT scans. Ryan has been cancer free for the past two years. He continues to work hard at strengthening his body in hopes of walking again.

As a result of the family history of cancer, the younger siblings, Eric and Jonathan were sent to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in November 2004 to the Screening and Prevention clinic. One year later, in November 2005, a mass was found in Eric’s left testicle during a physical examination. Eric underwent a radical orchiectomy on November 28, 2005. The pathology identified the presence of a mixed germ cell tumor. Eric has been under close observation since his initial surgery. He returns to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center every three months for labs and CT scans to rule out evidence of disease.

Jonathan, 15, the youngest sibling is also followed at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Prevention clinic. He has been educated in learning to identify symptoms and knows the importance of self examination.

No child, or family, should ever have to face the pain and anguish of this disease. It is a tribute to the Gensch family to help save others from ever having to endure the loss of a child to this disease. The Gensch family members are all firm believers in early cancer awareness and urge anyone with a family history of cancer to stress the importance of healthy living, regular check-ups, and promotion of advancements in the area of early detection.

In Glory's words-

If just one life is saved, the sacrifices we all make will be worth it.

-Glorianna Gensch (June 2007)