Elochukwu Eze is recovering nicely after undergoing emergency brain surgery last month to remove a tumor. The 6-foot-10 Calvary Christian junior center recently received post-surgery test results that indicate that while his prognosis isn’t ideal, he’s got plenty of reason for optimism.
“What he has is a very slow-growing Grade 2 tumor,” Geoff Still, Eze’s guardian, said. “From my research, a grade 1 is benign. A grade 2 is a little bit of a gray area — it can be either benign or malignant. His happens to be malignant. Grade 3 and 4 are fast-growing, reoccurring tumors, which is not what he has.
“Doctors said they could see him living a long, healthy life without restriction, with constant monitoring.”
A glioma is a type of brain tumor that grows from glial cells. Still said that tests have shown the doctors did a very clean job of getting all of the tumor.
This form of cancer has the likelihood of reoccurring, however. Doctors just don’t know when.
“They can’t tell us if it will be back in six years or 60,” Still said.
Eze, who was already drawing interest from colleges including Kansas, Florida State, UAB, Murray State, Louisville, Stetson and FIU, averaged six points and 12 rebounds per game for Calvary Christian as a 10th-grader. He had been playing with the Florida Vipers on the Under Armour circuit this spring when he learned of his tumor.
The native Nigerian has been keeping a positive attitude throughout his ordeal. He was just cleared to drive again and to start walking on treadmills.
Eze said Wednesday, “the things that are important to him are his faith in God, getting a good education and then playing basketball.”
“He’s doing good,” Calvary boys basketball coach Cilk McSweeney said. “He’s saying he’s going to play this year.
“I don’t want to rush him back … I’m just happy he’s here. But I would love to see him suit up [in the season opener in November] against Pine Crest.”
Still said Eze has headaches when he wakes up in the morning and he gets tired very easily. The next step is deciding on treatment moving forward.
The family is working with doctors from several hospitals to come up with the best plan. The two main options are to either take a conservative approach and monitor Eze’s health with MRIs every three months or to start chemotherapy now.
They will be going to the University of Florida on June 27 for a consultation with specialists, immediately followed by a trip to doctors in Jacksonville.
“The reporting we’ve gotten from everybody but one [doctor] is to go the conservative route, which is monitor his health, check for symptoms and side effects and do quarterly MRIs,” Still said.
“Right now we’re working on getting a collection of all the information and then will make an informed decision.”
Still said they are hoping Eze’s parents will be in the United States by the time they travel to the doctors visits in Gainesville and Jacksonville later this month. The parents have a meeting in Nigeria on Saturday to try and get their visas.
The tumor Eze had removed was 5-by-5-by-4 centimeters.