SAN DIEGO — A brain tumor survivor who taught himself how to walk again has bought a fitness club to inspire San Diegans. In this Zevely Zone, I went to Little Italy to hear one big comeback story.
It was there I watched Kevin Switzer running on a treadmill which was no small miracle. In November 2018, Kevin started suffering from headaches, which were impacting his eyesight, while his wife Latisha was pregnant in her first trimester. In January 2019, doctors found a tumor in the back of his head.
"I never talk about this," said Kevin. It's a story the 37-year-old father has never shared publicly. "It was extremely scary. I thought we are married, we are having our kid, this was not supposed to happen," said Latisha. "Honestly I was just shocked, and I am going to just make it nine more months or six more months until my daughter is born because I just wanted to see my daughter," said Kevin.
In 2019, Kevin was rushed to the ER for emergency surgery. Kevin suffered a stroke during a 10-hour surgery. While doctors were able to significantly reduce the tumor's size, Kevin was left with a hole in his skull and lost two liters of blood, his ability to speak coherently, and his ability to walk. Following the surgery, Kevin asked to go home. "I was like cool, I'm fine and they are like you are not fine and I am like no I am good let me go home today," said Kevin who was unaware he'd suffered two strokes.
"He could not walk. He wasn't making sense of anything that he was saying," said Latisha. Kevin had to learn how to walk and talk again; even solving a children's puzzle seemed impossible. "Anybody in the world doing that would think this is easy but to me it was so hard," said Kevin. In the middle of Kevin's recovery, the couple adopted a dog named Victory and then they signed up for a half marathon although at the time he could hardly walk.
At night, Kevin bonded with Victory and during the day he trained for the half marathon when he should have been in bed.
"I don't have a piece of my skull in that picture," said Kevin who showed me a picture of him running while wearing a helmet. Kevin was missing a 3 by 4-inch block of his skull and ran with a helmet on to protect his brain. "I was being told don't do it because if you have like one fall on your head it's a wrap, I was just being stubborn," said Kevin.
"I'm thinking whatever you want I am right by your side, we'll make it happen," said Latisha. It was right by Kevin's side Latisha ran the race while being nine months pregnant. "He is resilient," said Latisha. The experience compelled Kevin and Latisha to buy STRIDE Fitness in Little Italy where they hope inspire others. They are sharing the story for the first time publicly as a way of getting to know new clients. "I don't want people to think it's for promotional purposes or hey he's doing this because he wants attention," said Kevin.
The couple welcomed their daughter Olivia into the world. She is now three. A little sister, Zoe (1), followed just in time to watch to watch her dad hit his stride. "I feel like I am," said Kevin. Latisha added, "He totally is!"
As Kevin started feeling “normal” again and looking into new business ventures, STRIDE Fitness in Little Italy was in need of new owners. For Kevin, it was an easy choice to pursue the opportunity with Latisha. As owners they say they can pay forward the benefits of walking, jogging and running. Kevin says his recovery is 85-percent complete. If you'd like to learn more about Stride Fitness, click here.
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