York, PA.-- For a musician, singing is a defining part of life. At just 29 years old, one York County man’s life changed when he learned his days were numbered because of a brain tumor impacting speech and memory. Even with that diagnosis, Zack Zortman is still signing, it’s just a different song.
Zack knew something wasn't right, when he had a speech lapse, “I just had my phone up to my ear, and had a speech lapse. I couldn’t… I knew what I wanted to say, I just couldn’t speak.”
It was less than six months ago— Zack went to the hospital, only to learn the reason he couldn’t talk was because he had a brain tumor—stage 3 astrocytoma.
Doctors initially told Zack he had 10 months to live. Now, they say Zack has 2 to 5 years left to live.
“It’s probably the roughest feeling you can get... It’s basically a stage before the worst kind of tumor.”
Doctors discovered Zack’s brain tumor in the temporal lobe, the area impacting a person’s memory and speech. During the surgery to remove the tumor, doctors needed Zack to put his talents to good use on the operating table.
“I was awake during about 10 minutes of the operation and I sang a couple of songs so that they had to make sure that they weren’t cutting over boundaries that they shouldn’t.”
While no boundaries were crossed that would permanently impact Zack’s speech, it took about two weeks until Zack felt like himself again.
“It is a little different, there are subtle difference that you notice as you go through your day that maybe weren’t the way they used to be.”
Those subtle differences didn’t stop Zack from getting back to AK Beatz recording studio roughly 3 months after surgery -- recording his song, “meant to live.”
“That’s what I want with people, with my music—is just, you know, feel as I feel… And I think people are doing that with this song, which is a success to me.”
Through all of this, Zack knew that along with support and positive thinking—music would be his saving grace in his recovery. The feeling of being held back by his brain tumor… fading away.
“You have to find something that you love, and go with it. Some people look at it as a distraction, others look at it as motivation—I look at it as something I love to do, it’s motivating.”
His music motivated him to keep pushing through his recovery… break the chains in a sense, and now he hopes it inspires others to win their battles—as he continues to overcome his own battle scars.
“You get people that just stare, and I kinda look back... I stare back!”
It is that sense of humor along with his optimistic spirit, that has given Zack a new lease on life…
“With this, it’s just inspiration, encourage hope… Don’t worry, you can do it!”
Zack hopes his story helps others, he tells me he isn’t going to let his diagnosis of having only 2 to 5 years to live, interfere with his life. He plans to continue to make music and even learn new instruments moving forward—particularly the guitar.
While Zack isn't asking for help, if you feel compelled to donate to assist with his medical expenses, here is a link to his go fund me page: https://www.gofundme.com/2sars4pg
Watch Zack's video for "Meant to Live," below, or click the links to download from Amazon or iTunes:
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