There’s no disguising the fear and uncertainty that comes with a brain tumor diagnosis.
But Doug Weyrick managed to find a way to bring a little levity to a serious situation.
For the past six weeks, Weyrick wore a different costume to each of his radiation treatments at the Cleveland Clinic.
Weyrick, 42, of Green, showed up to his appointments at the Taussig Cancer Institute dressed as everything from a pirate to Snow White.
On Wednesday, he donned a cap and gown to mark his 28th and final treatment.
“To do it this way, I didn’t come in all stressed out and mad at the world,” he said. “It’s been fun.”
Weyrick, a husband and father of two young boys, was diagnosed last year with a type of brain tumor known as oligoastrocytoma.
The tumor was discovered after he mentioned during a regular checkup that his wife, Anna, noticed he was mixing up words. Subsequent tests revealed a mass in the part of the brain responsible for speech and memory.
In January 2012, Weyrick had brain surgery to remove most of the low-grade tumor. Doctors determined he needed radiation treatments five days a week when the remaining portion showed signs of growth.
Weyrick is the type of guy who likes to play tricks on people and make them laugh, his wife said.
After learning the radiation would cause him to lose part of his hair, he decided to wear a long wig to his first appointment. Before leaving the treatment room, he took off the wig, revealing his own short hair.
“Oh my gosh, it fell out so quickly!” he joked to the other patients and staff.
The reaction to his prank was so positive, he decided to try different costumes.
One day, he was George Michael from Wham! For another appointment, he was Tom Cruise in Risky Business, complete with a pink shirt and tighty whities.
Even Dr. Erin S. Murphy, his radiation oncologist, wasn’t immune. For a recent treatment, he dressed as her twin.
“What’s so neat is people have their own unique approaches to getting through treatments,” she said. “This is probably the most unique I’ve seen.”
Regulars at the center started looking forward to seeing what he would wear next.
“We never knew who we were going to get,” said Holli Cornelli, a radiation therapist at the Cleveland Clinic.
Fellow patient Annette Wagner, 75, of Gates Mills, enjoyed the laughter he provided when he arrived each day.
“He cheered us up,” she said. “It’s wonderful to have a laugh.”
Weyrick rang a symbolic bell on Wednesday to mark the end of his treatments. He will continue to be followed with regular MRIs.
“I think the other patients are going to miss him,” radiation therapist Laura Wess Paulus said. “I know we are.”
On Sunday, he’ll wear the cap and gown again to accept a business degree he earned at Walsh University while completing radiation.
“I don’t think even he realized how strong he actually is,” his wife said.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.