KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Rudy Fischmann of Knoxville is a brash, energetic television producer behind big shows on true crime and entertainment seen on a global scale. But with life-altering news, he now uses his skillset to help others going through a similar experience.
As a husband and father of two little girls, Rudy was in a good place, until two years ago — when dizzy spells and other troubling symptoms led to the heartbreaking diagnosis of terminal brain cancer.
Watching Rudy with his two young daughters, he could be any dad, sitting cross-legged on the sidewalk, working on chalk drawings.
It’s when he tries to stand that you notice he’s a bit wobbly for a man of 48.
“I was diagnosed with what they call an astrocytoma. It’s kind of a junior version of what killed John McCain and Ted Kennedy and Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son,” Rudy told us.
“I’m gradually deteriorating,” he said. “It’s hard for me to go up and down stairs. It’s hard for me to; like, I physically can’t run. I used to do triathlons, and I physically can’t lift my legs anymore to get into a running or jogging stride. I did a 5K, but you look at the footage and it’s pretty comical to somebody who’s used to running, but I did it, so I’m happy with that.”
Rudy is no longer working, but he has found a new way to channel his talent as a television producer.
It’s called “Brain Cancer Diaries,” a YouTube series of documentaries designed to help others like him.
The channel’s description reads, “Brain Cancer Diaries is about more than brain cancer or even its host Rudy Fischmann. While he does have the dreaded disease, this series shines a light on all the issues that impact those with all types of cancers and those around them as Rudy tries to deal with his own diagnosis.”
Rudy has discovered his “Brain Cancer Diaries” are helping him and his wife with the really heavy stuff only a parent can understand.
“Trying to be an active father,” Rudy said. “I’m not the same father so that weighs heavily on me, so you know, talking to other people about what I’m going through, people going through similar circumstances, has helped.”
His wife, Cecily Fischmann also shared her thoughts.
“The hardest struggle is mourning for my children; the father who they were supposed to have, to what he’s able to demonstrate right now, and I know who he was before,” Cecily said. “My oldest knows who he was before and she still says, ‘Mommy, I wish Daddy was normal. I wish we had Daddy back.’ “
Rudy does all he can to stay in the moment.
“I’ve allowed myself to be depressed and wallow in it for a while at times, but at the same time, kind of don’t have a choice. You just kind of accept the reality and try to make the most of what you do have, whether it’s today, hopefully tomorrow, and the day after that,” Rudy said with a smile.
How you can help Rudy and the Fischmanns
Rudy cannot work right now because of his dizziness and fatigue.
Since navigating stairs is difficult and dangerous, the Fischmann family is hoping they can find a way to add a small bedroom and bathroom for Rudy downstairs.
With his drop in income and medical bills, a family friend has set up a fundraising page.