February 26, 2015
Dalton Bouchles had everything going for him: He was an A-student at Leavitt Area High School, a member of the Key Club and National Honor Society, and an accomplished golfer. In the fall of 2012 he planned to enroll at Worcester Polytechnical Institute in Massachusetts.
And in the fall of 2012 he was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor that threatened to derail everything he’d worked so hard for.
“The four days between my diagnosis and surgery were filled with shock and fear,” Dalton says.
The surgery to remove his tumor — and ultimately save his life — left him with major physical and neurological impairments, including loss of much of his vision and a hormonal condition that causes him to gain weight at an alarming rate. Attending WPI was no longer an option, so Dalton and his mother, CarolAnne, focused on recovery.
I want to break down the walls of my new medical conditions.
They joined the YMCA through a partnership with The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing. Working with the Dempsey Center, the Y is able to provide free memberships to families recovering from cancer.
CarolAnne says coming to the Y helps her and Dalton feel less like patients and more like people. “It’s a good partnership. Exercise goes a long way in healing.”
Dalton is clear about what he wants to get out of his Y experience: “I want to become more physically and socially active. I want to break down the walls of my new medical conditions.”
He credits staffers Becky Walker and Marcie Hird with building his confidence. Both he and CarolAnne, who is herself disabled, are thrilled to have found a supportive community at the Dempsey Center and the Y.
“They’ve made us feel like we’re a part of something here,” says CarolAnne.
Today, Dalton is enrolled part time at Central Maine Community College. He says that while the tumor delayed his education, it won’t stop him from pursuing his goals.
“I’m a very positive person and a hard worker.
“The tumor was a roadblock that I had to overcome, and now I am where I’m supposed to be.”