Glenn told the story of Lisa Colagrossi, a well-known reporter in New York, who passed away last year from a ruptured brain aneurysm. Her husband, Todd Crawford joined Glenn on radio to discuss the condition, which is apparently just as prevalent as breast cancer and ALS, but practically unknown.
"The only way you find out about a brain aneurysm, whether you have one, is you rupture and die like my wife did," Crawford said. "Or you go in for another unrelated medical procedure that requires a CAT scan or MRA and the test results come back and say, 'oh, by the way, you have a brain aneurysm.'"
Crawford started a foundation in honor of his wife, LisasLegacy7.org, to promote awareness, education, research and support groups for brain aneurysm initiatives. As its first major initiative, the foundation recently launched a fund-raising campaign called the Lucky Seven Challenge.
"Number seven was Lisa's lucky number," Crawford said. "We're encouraging and making an appeal to everyone in the country to log on to LisasLegacy7.org, make a donation in an amount that has the number 7 in it. Just a minimum of $7. And then take to social media and nominate seven other friends to do the same thing."
Listen to the touching and informative conversation below.
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.
GLENN: I want to introduce you to somebody. And I just -- I just want to explain just one day, just one day in your life how many times have you heard your wife or your husband say, "Oh, I got the worst headache in my life?" And you just take that in stride. Worse headache of my life. I know I've had the worst headache of my life too. And after she says it a few times, you say, "You know what, we should get that checked. But it's not a priority because it's just the stress of life. All the things are going on. You're not sleepings well, everything else. Just, I'll get to that tomorrow." Lisa Colagrossi, she was a reporter for WABC in New York. TV. And we've seen her a million times. If you've lived in the New York area, you'd recognize her face in a heartbeat. She goes to work one morning. She covers a fire. She's on her way home, and her son texts her from his school. And she texts him back. And little hearts and smiley faces.
He doesn't know. But that's one of the last things she does because she has a brain aneurysm. Her husband gets a call. He knows she's not going to make it. The kids never speak to their mom again. They have her on life support until everybody can be there to say their last goodbyes and turn the machine off.
This is a horror story. But I want to introduce to you Todd Crawford. His sons Davis and Evan are here. We had them on TV last night. And they told the story. And they're here for a reason. Because this is more prevalent and more likely to happen than you think. How are you, Todd?
TODD: Okay. Thanks.
GLENN: You said that, "Hey, honey, we should have this checked." And she thought it was just a really bad headache.
TODD: She knew it was the worst headache of her life. I mean, that's the way she would describe it. She would walk through the door twice three times a week for a period of about five weeks, leading up to her rupture the morning of March 19th and said, "My head is absolutely killing me. I have the worst headache of my life." And that's the way that everybody describes it the same way. They write that on the emergency room hospital charts, ER doctors do. WHOL because that's the exact same way everybody describes it.
PAT: So had she gone in, they could have detected that and prevented it?
TODD: Yeah. So, I mean, had we known then what we know now, I would have grabbed her by the arm and insisted that we go to the ER and have a CAT scan or MRA, which is a version of an MRI, done. And at that point, because her rupture was underway which is why she was experiencing these God awful headaches, it probably would have required an open brain surgery, craniotomy. There are less invasive procedures if you diagnose it and get it before it ruptures. But there's -- there's a good chance she would not have been able to resume her career either way.
PAT: What is it that ruptures? A vessel?
TODD: It's a good question. A brain aneurysm is a thinner of one of the walls of a blood vessel in the brain.
TODD: As a result of the blood flow pounding over that weakening spot over time so that eventually the wall balloons out and the pressure keeps pounding against it until a rupture occurs.
PAT: So with a MRA, it's not hard to detect. They can spot that --
TODD: MRA or CAT scan. But, you know, insurance doesn't cover MRAs or CAT scans for this.
TODD: There are no routine scans like breast cancer because of the numbers. Because nobody knows about it.
GLENN: Okay. But the numbers. Hang on. Let's get into the numbers. And this is the reason why I've invited you on radio is because there's a lot of people -- I don't mean to be callous, but there's a lot of people who die of a lot of different things and we feel bad about all of these. This one, actually, is really important for people to know. Because the numbers, there are more people that are affected by this than breast cancer.
TODD: So here's what we know today. There are 6 million people walking around with a brain aneurysm today.
GLENN: That we literally know of. That's not a guess. Literally have been diagnosed with.
TODD: That's have been diagnosed. We know about them. Of those 6 million, there will be 30- to 40,000 ruptures a year. And of those 30- to 40,000 ruptures, 50 percent are instantly fatal, and of the 50 percent who survive, two-thirds of them will walk around with a major neurological deficit the rest of their life. I got a note last night of a father in Georgia whose daughter-in-law experienced a rupture, has had two surgeries and she's now in a vegetative state. So this is -- and women and African-Americans are 50 percent more likely to develop brain aneurysms than anybody else. Don't know why because there's no research. There's no money being thrown at this to study it. So based on what we know, it's just as prevalent as breast cancer and ALS. And the only way you find out about a brain aneurysm, whether you have one, is you rupture and die like my wife did. Or you go in for another unrelated medical procedure that requires a CAT scan or MRA and the test results come back and say, oh, by the way, you have a brain aneurysm. So I guarantee that 6 million number is more like 12 to 15 million. Guarantee it.
PAT: All those people have it and nobody is studying it. How is that possible? Why? Why is there no money being spent on this?
GLENN: When he says no money, I want you to understand, the NIH and our government spends less than a million dollars. Less than a million dollars.
GLENN: Now, think of that. It's bigger than breast cancer. Less than a million dollars.
TODD: Breast cancer receives by -- from the NIH every year, $6 million a year. ALS receives over 70 million. NIH appropriates over 20 million each for headaches and migraines to study those. By the way, neither one of those have ever killed anybody. Brain aneurysms, about a million dollars a year.
STU: If they do detect it, what can they do to treat it?
TODD: What they can do depends on various conditions and criteria. But there are two procedures that if they feel it needs to be treated, that are much less invasive, where they'll go up through your thigh, into the brain, and they will insert either a coil or a stent, much like a artery in the heart, to block the flow of blood and prevent it from further weakening the wall of the aneurysm itself. So that's -- you're not talking -- it is -- you're not talking about a cure here for this disease. Unlike breast cancer or heart disease. What you're talking about at best is the management of it.
GLENN: Well, there's not even really a cure of breast cancer. Until you wipe out cancer, I don't think that taking your breasts off is a cure. That's not -- you know, that's just slowing things down.
GLENN: Sometimes you can get away with, that's it. But, you know, that's what we're doing really with all medicines is just slowing things down, unless you're talking about things like polio, which we have cured.
So, first of all, what do you do for a living?
TODD: Well, I was in finance. But once Lisa passed away, I resigned from my position and have dedicated myself to this cause out of my -- out of the unconditional love that we shared for one another, our faith, and our two boys. To show them that -- how to address adversity head-on. And my mission is to create a parent organization in this country that represents this disease to save other lives. It's too late for their mom and my wife. But we can save countless lives of others across the country and around the world if we have support and raise awareness throughout the country.
GLENN: I wish I would have met your wife. Because just by looking at your eyes yesterday in the interview and again today, you're an exceptional man. Your kids are exceptional. And that's not easy to do in media, in New York, to keep faith and to keep yourself ground. She was a remarkable woman.
TODD: She was the best. I mean, absolutely amazing. And you can't get a sense for how incredible of a woman she was unless you were either married to her or you were one of her sons. And words just don't describe. And her faith meant a great deal to her and was deepening. And the void is huge. There's no question about that. And we're in the process of putting the pieces back together and trying to figure out what our new normal looks like and just adjusting to that.
GLENN: Yeah. Okay. So tell me -- we only have a couple of minutes. Tell me how people can get involved and helped.
TODD: So we've created the Lisa Colagrossi Foundation, which can be found at LisasLegacySeven.org. And we hope that that will become the largest private funder of brain aneurysm initiatives around the country in the areas of awareness, education, research, and support groups. And the foundation's first major initiative, we launched the first ever national fund-raising campaign a couple weeks ago called the Lucky Seven Challenge. Number seven was Lisa's lucky number. It happened to be the station she worked at in New York, ABC 7. And the Lucky Seven Challenge is a very simple concept. We're encouraging and making an appeal to everyone in the country to log on to LisasLegacySeven.org, make a donation in an amount that has the number 7 in it. Just a minimum of $7. And then take to social media and nominate seven other friends to do the same thing. It's that simple. If we just get 1 million -- find 1 million people in this country who love God, who have a good heart, who want to get involved with a cause where just a little can make a very big difference, we just need them to donate $7, we'll hit our goal. $7 million in the next seven months. Very aggressive, never been tried before, but God willing, we'll get there.
GLENN: LisasLegacySeven.org. I have a very good friend of mine who -- who wanted me to donate money to a hospital. And I said to him, "I'll do that if you'll do me a favor, and that is teach me how to be charitable. Teach me how to be a more charitable man." And he said, "I'll make that deal. Here's the first lesson, you have to care about all of it." He was at a cancer center. And he said, "You can't just care about cancer. You can't just care about breast cancer or brain cancer. You can't just care about the people that you're trying to save in the Middle East. You can't care about the kids that are being shot in the streets of Chicago. You can't care about people with brain aneurysms. You have to care about all of them." And for $7, that's an easy way. You have seven friends give $7. That's the price of a Starbucks cup of coffee. You have seven friends that this story will touch that you could get them to donate just $7. I want you to go to LisasLegacySeven.org. The number seven. If you would like to hashtag this, it's #lucky7. Take the lucky seven challenge. LisasLegacySeven.org. Thank you so much.
TODD: Thank you. God bless.
GLENN: God bless you.