Brian Books’ COVID story: Journey to good health

Video recorded in fall 2020

[Update from March 2021]  “I’ve got a good plan to get healthy again,” says Brian Brooks, as he sits at St. John’s Bay Lake City Center men’s shelter. He’s in very good spirits, despite some setbacks in his treatment. The embolism that was discovered is still at 30-40% and hasn’t gone away as quickly as doctors had hoped. Still, Brian was able to start chemotherapy treatment for his lung cancer while waiting for that to heal. As he revealed last year in the video above, he has small cell carcinoma, about the size of a pea, in his lungs. While they still can’t do radiation due to the embolism, the chemotherapy is one pill he takes once a week. “The chemotherapy feels strong and really wears me down,” Brian says of his treatment. The good news is that it is working and shrinking his cancer. Once small enough to remove, he will have surgery, likely in early April. With his single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine for COVID being given on March 18th, that will mark one year to the day that St. John’s has been in an alternate shelter model in order to respond to the pandemic.

Through all of this, Brian has stayed COVID-free, and he gives credit to St. John’s response to the pandemic. “You’ve done an excellent job of help keeping me alive and free from COVID. St. John’s has saved my life; there’s no doubt about it.” For Brian, there was no other alternative. If he got COVID, doctors told him he would die.

Brian hopes to get healthy enough to work, but until then, he will be able to collect social security when he turns 60 this year. At the end of shelter season, he plans to move into his own place with newfound health, cancer-free.

When asked what St. John’s means to him, he says, “What St. John’s did means everything to me. I have two kids and a new grandson born in October. Great big thanks to St. John’s. You kept me alive.”

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