Part-time SCC student smiles through it all

Glen Schallman attending school at SCC

Ivana Venema-Nunez/SCC

Glen Schallman attending school at SCC

Ivana Venema-Nunez, Reporter

Glen Schallman is a part-time student at Scottsdale Community College who has lived through the challenges of three brain conditions and lives life with a big heart, smile and a companionship with his cats who are his heroes.

Schallman has a tumor on his hypothalamus called hypothalamic hamartoma and two inborn rare brain conditions, polimicrogyria and schizencephaly, which has caused him epilepsy throughout his life.

Schallman, who is 58, was diagnosed 16 years ago.

“No one ever knew this was happening to me until then, I was always sick as a child and no one ever knew why” Schallman said.

Schallman was a happy child because he laughed quite often, but he didn’t know that he was having uncontrollable laughing type seizure.

“Doctor walked in March 1, 2002 and said you have a brain condition, a brain mass and you are a miracle” Schallman said.

The emotion he had toward hearing this news was first to enclose himself, eventually deciding to go back to school. Schallman focuses on being a part of foundations like Hope Hypothalamic Hamartomas and he participates in walking foundations that raise money for research.

“I felt the warmth, and I am very spiritual too, myself- and I said ok, it’s time for me do something for myself and help others.” Schallman said.

Although he was diagnosed in 2002, Glen underwent surgery in 2017 on his tumor to help reduce his seizures.

Schallman met Dr. Peter Nakaji who is the neurosurgeon at Barrow Neurological Institute. Dr. Nakaji successfully performed the operation. The results went from roughly 20 or more seizures a day to one seizure per week.

“We found a doctor that has the knowledge to do something…no one wanted to touch my brain” Schallman said.

Schallman has owned four cats since the diagnosis. Though they have not been trained, the cats have been successful at sensing when his seizures occur and wake him up by biting his toes or fingers.

“She started doing that when she was about six months old,” Schallman talking about Boo Boo Kitty who was the first of the four to be adopted. He has three other cats called Mew Mew Kitten, Blake and Maxwell Boo who all contribute to saving his life every day.

“I did not train them, its sense” Schallman said.

Thanks to the two cats that are his guardians, Blake and Maxwell Boo, there is an irreplaceable bond between Schallman and his companions.

Photo courtesy of Glen Schallman
One of the four cats Glen owns