Burke Speaks at Ependymoma Awareness Day

Burke Speaks at Ependymoma Awareness Day

Name: Burke T.
Type of Cancer: Ependymoma
Diagnosed: Age 13, 2012
By: Burke
— Categories: Brain   Pediatric  

Most of you don’t know me - I’m Burke Tinsley. About 5 years ago, I was just a normal 13-year-old kid. I ran cross country, was a straight-A student, and had a B in Greek. That really bothered me. That was my biggest problem.

I started getting headaches, but that wasn’t a big a deal. I went to the doctor a few times, but they thought it was just vertigo, acid reflux or pediatric migraines.  They couldn’t figure it out. Finally, after about a year, they scanned my head. Brain tumor. Ependymoma. Wow. It felt like the end of the world. I named my tumor Frank.

After multiple surgeries and radiation, I couldn’t walk, talk, or eat. I couldn’t do anything. I felt like it was the end of the world.  Some doctors thought I should be moved into a nursing home, but Drs. Hummel and Pruitt at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital thought I could get better. After 10 and a half months in the hospital, I could walk a little. I moved from a wheelchair, to a walker, to a cane, to now nothing.

I’m now in college part-time, studying Art and Philosophy. I’m in the honors program and earned A’s and B’s this year. The research you guys are doing helped me get better. I’m now 5 years in remission. No Frank!

So what I want to tell other people fighting tumors, and families and researchers and doctors, is don’t give up! Keep fighting!  When I was in the hospital, a friend gave me a poem, “Invictus,” by William Earnest Henley. He was really sick too. He couldn’t walk. People told him to give up.  He went to Scotland for a new treatment, and was in the hospital two years, and while there, he wrote Invictus. I recommend you read the entire poem, but the final two lines “I’m the master of my fate, I’m the captain of my soul.” You are the master, if you keep fighting.


By William Ernest Henley


Out of the night that covers me,

      Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

      For my unconquerable soul.


In the fell clutch of circumstance

      I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

      My head is bloody, but unbowed.


Beyond this place of wrath and tears

      Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

      Finds and shall find me unafraid.


It matters not how strait the gate,

      How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

      I am the captain of my soul.

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