GUILFORD — You might think Paul Dostie would be feeling kind of down right now, what with his recent diagnosis of a grade 4 glioblastoma — incurable brain cancer.
Not this guy — and not with seemingly everyone in Guilford and Branford in his corner.
Talk to Dostie, 57, who owns Jerry’s Transmission Services on Boston Post Road — and who will be the beneficiary of a huge benefit this Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m. at the Thimble Island Brewery in Branford — and you can practically feel the sun shine in his voice.
“There are people that are sad for me right now,” but “I’m just trying to get the message out to people that I’m good,” said Dostie. “I’ve been labeled the happiest brain cancer patient that Yale has ever seen. ... Things could not have gone any better so far.
“Things are going really good in the recovery process,” said Dostie, who is thrilled to be walking and talking after recent brain surgery that removed a much larger amount of the tumor than doctors thought they could.
The doctors took out possibly as much as 90 percent of the tumor, he said.
“The surgeon knocked it out of the park,” said Dostie, who also had worried going in to the surgery about possibly going blind or losing motor skills, neither of which happened.
“She did really good — no collateral damage,” he said.
Without eyesight and motor skills, “my ability to feed my family is done,” but the surgeon “had me walking the next day.” One of the nurses at Yale New Haven Hospital played the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” as he walked.
“My big thing is, I just want to get back to work and get back to my normal routine,” Dostie said.
One reason why Dostie is feeling so good these days is because he and the Dostie family can feel the love from the community.
It is coming from texts, phone calls, Facebook posts and a Facebook online fundraiser, which has raised almost $60,000 since Dostie was diagnosed with glioblastoma Nov. 1. Dostie’s sister, Linda Dostie Kelly, arranged the Dostie Medical Fund Facebook fundraiser.
“When Paul found out that he had this all he wanted to do was just have a party,” recalled his wife, Jeanne McManus Dostie. “He’s like, ‘When I get through this, I just want to have a party. I want everyone to know I’m OK. I don’t want anyone feeling sad for me.”
“Anyone who came to visit him in the hospital,” she said, laughing, “he would say, ‘Are you coming to my party?’ and I’m sitting there thinking, ‘When, who, how, what party? My world’s just been turned upside down and you’re planning a party.
“His sister just kind of took the bull by the horns and said, ‘You know what, we’re going to give him a party,’ and it started out as a party and it’s ended up as a fundraiser,” she said.
The Fight the Fight Fundraiser for Paul Dostie will take place from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Thimble Island Brewing Co., 16 Business Park Drive in Branford. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at http://bit.ly/2CwRsKK.
Dostie first learned he was sick on Oct. 25, when he wasn’t feeling well and went to the Yale New Haven Health Shoreline Medical Center.
“They did a CT scan and found a mass on his brain and sent us to Yale where they did an MRI that night and then Saturday a doctor came in and told us that he had, she was 99.9 percent sure, it was a glioblastoma and it was pretty aggressive and not curable,” said McManus Dostie.
Glioblastoma multiforme grade 4 is the most aggressive and malignant form of brain cancer. GBM, as it’s called, generally has a survival time of 12 to 18 months. Those who make it that far have a 3 to 5 percent chance to survive five years. There is no cure.
Dostie underwent a four-hour brain surgery at Yale New Haven’s Smilow Cancer Hospital. The surgery was Nov. 1 and he was home by Nov. 4.
His spirits are high and he is facing this news with a very upbeat attitude, his wife said.
“He’s unbelievable, I have to say,” said McManus Dostie. “He is just so positive that he’s going to beat this and that’s all he keeps saying, ‘I’ve got this. I got this. This isn’t going to take me down; I’m going to be around for a long time.’”
Dostie was born and raised in Guilford. Jerry’s Transmission Services was started by his father in 1959. He is now the owner, working with his brother, Brian, for more than 35 years.
He and McManus Dostie, who moved to Guilford when she was 12, raised their girls, Kristen, 29, and Allison (Allie) and Paige, 22-year-old twins.
Aside from his health issues, what McManus Dostie said is a huge concern for her husband is that their daughter, Allie, was born with and lives with heart disease hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), an abnormal thickening of the heart. She has undergone three open heart surgeries, the last one in April.
“I think one of my husband’s biggest fears is, our insurance is expensive and he owns his own business, and I think he was just worried not even for his own health care, but for our daughter,” said McManus Dostie.
While McManus Dostie said Allie is doing well and back at school at UConn, “she has a progressive disease and we’re just trying to keep her healthy and keep her heart as long as we can. Eventually she’ll need a transplant.”
For Dostie, there is chemotherapy and radiation to go through, plus the possibility of an immunotherapy clinical trial. McManus Dostie said they hope to travel to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, to “just make sure we’re getting him the best possible treatment that we can.”
In addition to the money pouring in, friends also have started a meal train. By signing in to http://bit.ly/32ChCWW, people can sign up to make and deliver meals to the family.
Greg Page, an owner of Thimble Island Brewing Co., said they are expecting more than 1,000 people to come support the family Saturday.
“We’re doing this because, first off, Paul Dostie is one of my best friends and because he’s a pillar of the community,” said Page. “He’s done so much for so many other people that it’s not just me. Everybody wants to help Paul because Paul’s just always done so much for so many other people.”
“The team at Thimble Island Brewery, they’ve been amazing,” said Dostie. “They’ve rearranged their entire business for this. ... They’ve really disrupted their entire business to do this for me.”
McManus Dostie also is grateful for the outpouring of support.
“I’m just sitting back and honestly I’ve just said, ‘OK, I’m just going to let this happen and I’m going to focus on my husband and my kids and make sure they’re OK and that I’m here for them,” she said.
She said the whole family feels the positive vibes coming from the community and wants everyone to know “how truly grateful we are for all the prayers, just everything that this community has extended to us and just really has wrapped their arms around us in a very sad time.
“It’s not only me, but people reaching out to our children and checking in,” she said. “It’s unbelievable, that’s all I can say. It’s really unbelievable.”