The Nick Gonzales Foundation is making a difference by prioritizing brain tumor awareness and research

by FWD>DFW | January 8, 2018

Each year more than 200,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with a primary or metastatic brain tumor, according to the National Cancer Institute. And, these tumors don’t discriminate; they can affect anyone at any age, gender, or nationality.

There are more than 120 different types of brain tumors identified by the National Brain Tumor Society, which makes effective treatments complicated. They can be malignant or benign; but, in either case, they can be just as injurious or life threatening.

What’s more, these tumors are the second leading cause of cancer death in male adults ages 20 to 29 and the fifth leading cause of cancer death in female adults ages 20 to 39.

Sadly, Nick Gonzales was one of those male adults.

The Nick Gonzales Foundation for Brain Tumor Research was established in 2007 in his honor; he always believed in giving back and helping others, and volunteered for a range of causes.

“We are thrilled with the news of winning the FWD>DFW social impact giveaway,” said Cindy Villareal, president of The Nick Gonzales Foundation (and Nick’s mother). “After Nick passed away, out of heartbreak, I met with attorneys to set up our nonprofit, and for the last 11 years, we have raised money and awareness. We are so grateful for FWD>DFW’s donation of $1,000 to the cause.”

Nick was diagnosed with a Grade IV Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), an aggressive form of brain cancer, on November 25, 2005 at the age of 28. He had no family history of brain cancer and the early warning signs were missed.

It was a devastating blow, not only for Nick, but also for his large circle of family, friends, and colleagues; he and his wife, Anne, had two little boys who were both under three at the time of his diagnosis.

Nick Gonzales with his two sons

Although Nick underwent emergency surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy under the expert supervision of Dr. Bruce Mickey, neurosurgeon with UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, his tumor returned in September 2006. This time, it was inoperable. A clinical trial for RTA 744 had virtually no effect on the tumor.

Nick passed away on December 5, 2006, little more than a year after his initial diagnosis.

The Nick Gonzales Foundation’s mission is twofold: to raise public awareness of the early warning signs of brain tumors, which includes seizures, frequent and severe headaches, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, behavior and cognitive changes, motor problems, and vision and hearing problems; and to support brain tumor and brain cancer research.

Funding annual research grants for this category of brain tumor continues to be one of the key goals for the foundation. So far, they’ve awarded more than $400,000 in research grants.

“The unfortunate thing about gliobastoma brain tumors is that they have a high reoccurrence and, so far, nothing is stopping them. So that’s why research is so important to us,” said Cindy.

The organization also hosts several fundraising events each year. The 2nd Annual Fire Fighters Challenge, ‘Grey Matters to Fire Fighters,’ is on April 27, 2019, and the 12th annual charity golf tournament is on May 10, 2019.

The Nick Gonzales Foundation for Brain Tumor Research is the winning charity of FWD>DFW’s holiday social impact giveaway, receiving $1,000 on behalf of FWD>DFW.


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