‘It’s about love’: Battling a brain tumor, a man finds resilience through storytelling

(Bob Tedeschi/ Stat) — It was mid-October in St. Joseph, Mo., and Michael Bischoff, 46 and rail thin with dark wispy hair and a faintly visible scar behind his right ear, stood before nursing home residents and their family members, to tell a story of generations.

The community room smelled like hamburgers and potatoes. At Bischoff’s side sat his father, Donald, 75, head down and silent as usual, in a wheelchair, a decades-old scar arcing his scalp.

Their brain tumors had struck 70 years apart. Donald’s was successfully treated when he was a toddler, but he developed a brain condition that ultimately left him depressed and physically debilitated; his wife and three children did their best to help carry that.

Michael’s cancer is a glioblastoma, which he has treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, experimental vaccine therapy, and electronic stimulation caps that look like they were torn from the pages of a sci-fi novel. Diagnosed in September 2015, he has already lived longer than most with the disease.

A year ago doctors told him they’d exhausted treatment options, but Bischoff maintains his own regimen: frequent time on the couch with his wife, Jennifer Larson, and their two children. Daily walks through the Mississippi River Gorge near his home in Minneapolis. Perhaps most unconventionally, public storytelling. (…)

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