Surgery scheduled Wednesday, but 'they can't delete it or fix it or cure it,' he says

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Lake Oswego author Brian Doyle will undergo surgery on Wednesday for a cancerous brain tumor.Lake Oswego author Brian Doyle has been diagnosed with brain cancer and is scheduled to undergo surgery on Wednesday, the University of Portland’s The Beacon newspaper reported this week.

“This is really bad, so the surgery is to try to reduce (a cancerous brain tumor),” Doyle told The Beacon on Sunday evening. “And then probably chemo, but there is no healing. But if all goes well, I could get a year or maybe even two.

"They can’t delete it or fix it or cure it," Doyle said. "The doctor thinks that if he can reduce it and shoot chemo at it, then it may be suppressed for long enough for a few more years of reading and writing and being with my wife and kids.”

Doyle said the tumor is located in the back right of his brain. That's "good news," he said, because doctors told him that it “hopefully” would not affect his reading, writing and speech.

Doyle, 60, learned about the tumor last Tuesday. He had experienced severe headaches for several months and initially was treated for a migraine, he said, but when symptoms did not subside, he went in for a scan that revealed the mass.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Lake Oswego author Brian Doyle goofs around with young fans in a photo he submitted to The Review last year as an example of the things for which he was grateful. “I’m actually not afraid (of surgery),” he told Beacon Editor-in-Chief Malika Andrews. “The thing I’m really upset about is that I don’t think I will be able to take care of my wife and children. That’s what is really scary. I’m not really going to be able to work anymore, and that’s too bad because I love the University of Portland magazine, I really do.”

Patricia McDonald, a graphic artist who has worked with Doyle at the University of Portland, told The Review that "there was lots of crying in our office" when Doyle broke the news to his colleagues. "He always tells the best, most inspiring stories in the magazine and also at our Monday meetings. We will miss him terribly."

McDonald said Doyle only asked for two things from his co-workers.

"He asked that we bake him ginger snap cookies," she said, "and pray."

A nine-time Oregon Book Award nominee, Doyle won this year for his young adult novel “Martin Marten.” His essays and poems have been published in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Orion, Commonwealth, the Times of London, the annual Best American Essays, Best American Science and Nature Writing and Best American Spiritual Writing anthologies, among others.

His novel “Mink River” was the selected title for the Lake Oswego Reads program in 2012. His most recent book, “The Kind of Brave You Wanted to Be,” was released Oct. 1.

Doyle has received hundreds of supportive emails and phone calls. He told The Beacon what he really wants is for people to keep laughing.

“I’ll hear all laughter,” he said. “Be tender to each other. Be more tender than you were yesterday, that’s what I would like. You want to help me? Be tender and laugh.”

On Tuesday, a GoFundMe account was opened online to help the Doyle family. Doyle, who turned 60 this month, and his wife, Mary, have three children in their 20s and live in Lake Oswego.

“The type of brain tumor Brian has will require an incredible amount of care, a ton of patience and a lot of money,” wrote Katherine Green of New Orleans, La., who began the GoFundMe campaign. “If we as a community of friends and family can relieve Mary and Brian and family of the burden of the financial stress associated with ongoing therapy, cancer treatments, rehabilitation and transportation costs, it would be incredibly helpful.

“Any donation small or large will be appreciated," Green wrote. "Mary may not be able to work, as she will be busy and exhausted, and to know we can help will be such a blessing.”

To contribute to the account, go to

Contact Barb Randall at 503-636-1281 ext. 100 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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