Yesterday, we ventured out of the house for the first time since being discharged from the hospital. We had two appointments to get to, one to see a Medical Oncologist and another to see a Radiologist. These two, in addition to my Neurosurgeon are making up my current treatment team to battle the next stages of this journey I’m on. I know it’s hard to believe, but I have been ok with the news that I have cancer; the word in and of itself does not scare me nor will I allow it to have any power over my attitude. As I have thought to myself and said to many of you, there is nothing that could have been done about this, this is what I have been dealt, the only thing I can control is how I react to it, and that is where my focus will remain. When you get the news of a brain tumor there is so much that you can think about if you let your mind go, but my focus up to this point has been to simply overcome the news of having a brain tumor, preparing like crazy for surgery, and recovering from surgery so that we can get about the business of going on this journey and getting back to real life again, or at least developing a new version of real life (the most likely result to anticipate).
The concept that what has happened to me has been a blessing is something that’s a little tough to wrestle with, because of course you would never want to actually go through this if you had the choice, but honestly, all things considered I have so much to be thankful for. We were able to find the tumor in an amount of time that did not create large neurological deficits; surgery went better than expected, the tumor was removed; and I am recovering well, at least in my opinion. I am able to walk, talk, think, laugh, smile and enjoy time with friends and family. I am weak from surgery, but strong in spirit. I know that my current condition, prognosis and diagnosis is not always the norm for people that deal with this ugly disease, and it doesn’t escape me for a minute to be thankful for the health and happiness I am able to so blessedly enjoy. So in spite of all that could go wrong, I am confidently focused on all that is going right and celebrating each day as the gift it is to our family!
The official diagnosis is an adult medulloblastoma. This is a cancer that rarely occurs in adults. It is a tumor that originated in the brain and sometimes the cells spread and tumors can be found in other areas of the brain, spinal column or in the cerebral spinal fluid. So far, all other MRI’s, CT’s and tests have shown no signs of other tumors in any other areas, only the one tumor that has since been removed. Again, all information we have received has been as best-case scenario as we could hope for. Medulloblastomas are the most common type of brain tumor found in children, and the treatment for it in children is widely studied and well understood, but according to doctors, these simply do not develop in adults at a frequency that allows for a large clinical knowledgebase to follow. Because of this, the treatment plan often resembles that of children, where the knowledge and understanding exists. The basic plan is to perform radiation therapy and possibly/probably chemotherapy depending on what risk factor and grade I end up falling into. I will be getting an assessment of my cerebral spinal fluid which will indicate how widespread or not the cancer cells could be in the system, which will largely drive how much treatment is required. The best things I have going for me at this point is the amount of the tumor that has been removed and the clean scans I have had. Either way, no matter in which direction the treatment plan becomes finalized, I am ready to tackle the next round of this boxing match.
The radiologist was great yesterday, he spent a lot of time with Heather and I discussing the treatment plan, and more than anything his positive outlook and optimism for the situation was a breath of fresh air at my first visit to a Comprehensive Cancer Center. He said my story is so interesting, a saying I have actually warmed up to, and in an odd way, have come to welcome now to some degree. He said the idea that at 30 years old, you found and fixed a 91% blocked Left Anterior Descending Artery before something catastrophic happened and then at 31 that you found and had removed an adult medulloblastoma is like lighting striking twice. The odds of either of these happening to one person at my age is so small, the odds that both occurred to the same person within a year is simply remarkable. This is another indication of the truth that we cannot control our destiny, we cannot determine where lightning will strike, our only ability is to control our attitude with which we face our particular situation. I continue to be strengthened by the support and prayer of our family, friends and community. I continue to heal stronger each day, I remain confident that we will beat this. I continue to walk down this path on an adventure in Grace!