John Williams

Success Story

An auto mechanic with a passion for automotive restoration, John Williams from Ash Fork, Ariz., rebuilds Ford Broncos and enters them in car shows.

One morning, while having coffee with his wife, Suzie, John felt dazed. He recalls going outside and wandering through the gate in his yard, not knowing where he was going. Suzie called the local clinic and was instructed to take him to the emergency department. After an MRI, the doctor reported he had glioblastoma, a fast-growing and aggressive brain tumor. The prognosis was dim.

Because of the severity of this diagnosis and the fact that it will not go into remission, the doctor recommended chemotherapy and radiation. Suzie drove John 130 miles daily for radiation treatments, and at night, he would take a chemotherapy pill. After one of his treatments, he developed a rash with subsequent weakness that required hospitalization at a burn unit in Phoenix. After treatment, he was referred to Rehabilitation Hospital of Northern Arizona (RHNA) for concentrated therapies. John says the hospital is close to his home, so that’s why he wanted to go there.

“We met Dr. Makar on the first day I was admitted,” John says. “He was gentle and gave us straight answers to our questions. We had not experienced this before. Dr. Makar told us, ‘We treat the person you are with hands-on therapy.’ From the first encounter with him, I felt relief and some hope. My wife and I know what the ultimate outcome will be, but we plan on living together a long time.”

“With my condition, I can’t think of a better place to be than RHNA,” John continues. “They are giving me the strength I need to get home.”

John says having his wife by his side at the hospital is important. “Suzie is my biggest coach,” he says. “She’s a strong person with some medical knowledge that she uses to push me. My daughters have been encouraging as well.”

John is grateful for the staff’s assistance. He particularly appreciates Dr. Balouch and the therapists, especially Shannon and Kristen, who remember his specific needs and push him to do better.

John looks forward to returning home and spending time with his wife and dogs. He plans to keep himself busy with projects, including working on building antique model cars and jigsaw puzzles. He also hopes he can begin target shooting again.

John succeeds because he sets goals, works to get there, and keeps it up. He says, “Believe in God, country, and family. Have faith, hope, and love. I am blessed with a wonderful wife and a good family. For those who may be experiencing a similar diagnosis of glioblastoma, I would say don’t give up. You may not be able to do what you did before, your plans may change, but keep plugging on.”