Brenda Hage believes that everything happens for a reason.
That belief was tested on July 5 when her son Mike was rushed to the hospital after having a severe seizure.
When she arrived at Geisinger’s Emergency Room, Hage, a nurse, quickly realized the situation was life threatening.
Within minutes of his arrival, Mike’s heart stopped and he began having difficulty breathing, he was intubated and shocked back into normal cardiac rhythm.
Mike’s brother Dave remembers that night vividly.
“We didn’t know if he would make it,” he said. “We were pretty broken.”
The family was buoyed, however, by some small circumstances surrounding the event that indicated to them that “God got this.”
For example, on many typical nights, Mike is home alone after working at Golden Technologies. But on that night, he had decided to try something different.
His love for music had moved him to audition in the band for the Little Theater of Wilkes-Barre’s upcoming production of Rock of Ages.
The production team realized something was wrong and sprang into action.
Director Tom Franko (a practicing pharmacist), realized that Mike wasn’t sure where he was or of his name, so the show staff including Dr. Franko, music director Joey James, and sound designer/marketing manager John Dawe (who Mike went to High School with) called 911.
When Mike arrived in the emergency room that night he was attended by emergency room doctor Sam Saylor, who not only graduated with him from Lake Lehman High School, but was also on the wrestling team with him.
Although Mike was originally thought to have had a major stroke, tests revealed that he had a tumor the size of a golf ball that would need to be removed.
Although this wasn’t exactly “good news,” Brenda Hage said that it provided hope for her son’t recovery.
“A stroke is irreversible,” she said. “A tumor causes trauma to the brain, once it’s removed, the brain is able to begin to heal.”
It was then necessary for a neurosurgeon to remove the tumor, and it was originally thought to be benign.
Unfortunately, when the tumor was biopsied, testing revealed that it was cancerous.
Brenda Hage said that was a difficult conversation to have with her son.
“He asked me if he had brain cancer,” she said. “And I had to tell him that he did.”
Still Mike and his family have dealt with cancer with grace, humor and a positive spirit.
“Mike said ‘mom, I’m in a good place’,” she said.
Brenda Hage said since her son has had cancer, she has realized how many friends he has and how valued he is by the community.
She has described the efforts of Golden Technologies, where he works as phenomenal.
“At the start of a business meeting, they stopped to have a word of prayer for Mike,” she said. “They’ve continued to call and ask about how he’s doing.”
Because Mike Hage’s journey will not be an easy one — he will now need both radiation and chemotherapy — the business is holding a fundraising event on Tuesday at the Jazz Cafe on River Street entitled #chokeoutcancer.
The benefit will host a variety of bands, which will offer attendees the chance to listen to a variety of quality rock music.
In a separate effort, Jason Davis, Vice President of Sales at Golden Technologies and Mike’s boss has offered to shave his head live on video if a gofundme account raises $5,000.
“He said he wouldn’t shave his head for anyone but Mike,” said Dave Hage.
Brenda Hage said she remembers at one point just simply holding her forehead to her son’s forehead and encouraging him, telling him he was going to be alright.
Now Mike, in spite of some language challenges, is up and around, joking and being his usual self.
“I could never imagine life without him,” he said.
And, when Mike is ready to go back to work, Golden Technologies has provided him with a special chair built specifically for him.
“My English was terrible when the executive team asked to build the chair for me while I was in the hospital. I couldn’t name a fabric or a model,” he said. “But, they knew exactly the chair I wanted. I’m feeling beyond blessed.”
Reach Geri Gibbons at 570-991-6117 or on Twitter @TLGGibbons.