November 9, 2012 | 4 Comments
On becoming an expert.
November 9, 2012 | 4 Comments
On becoming an expert.
November 7, 2012 | 3 Comments
Change of plans.
A lot has transpired since my last post. I have changed doctors, I’ve cancelled and rescheduled the surgery and now cancelled again*. My new doctor, Dr. Tina Lin thinks that this isn’t as simple as initially thought. I knew all along that this was going to be a rough road and I am prepared for that, Dr. Lin just wants to make sure I am setting myself up for the best possible long term outcome. Dr. Lin believes the entire mass (See below) is all tumor. So all the irregular looking tissue in the scan is what she thinks is a type of Glioma. Initially the thought was the surrounding area that looks different from the internal mass is just swelling caused by the tumor pushing against my brain.
So with the new information there is much more to take into consideration. If in fact the entire mass is tumor, the outer most edges come extremely close to areas that are invaluable to my motor skills. Dr. Lin wants to be able to get out as much of this tumor as humanly possible without affecting my motor skills at all. This means she wants to do what is called a functioning MRI. This is an MRI where I will perform tasks and answer question while a scan is being done. This will ‘light up’ certain areas of the brain and she will be able to see much better just how close to the vital areas she can cut. With this new information she recommended I see another doctor in Los Angeles, Dr. Pikul. This doctor is the specialist in the area of ‘awake craniotomy.’ This is basically a brain surgery while I am awake, (sounds fun, right?!) So depending on where this tumor is in relation to my motor skills area is now the question. I am staying positive and optimistic and ready for battle. I was ready for surgery tomorrow and I will be ready for surgery in a couple weeks. I will update and clarify more a little later, for now I need a glass of wine and American Horror Story.
November 4, 2012 | 4 Comments
8 years ago today was the hardest day of my life. I lost my mother to breast
cancer, actually around this time. She passed away and I felt hollow. I swore I would live my life in the moment, I wanted to make sure I had no regrets and I needed to leave. In fact, no more than a month after she passed away I left. Maybe I was running from reality or maybe I did just need to get away. So I packed up and left my family, my then girlfriend and all of my friends to live in San Luis Obispo. My time in San Luis Obispo was one of the best years of my life. 8 years later I miss her just as much and love her more than ever. 8 Years later I celebrated her, I did not mourn her. 8 years later the most amazing Amy Thompson had Cancer Palooza. A gathering of people whom in one way or another have cancer affecting their life. It has been a wild 2 weeks and to think that today was the day my mom passed away and the day of Cancer Palooza kind of makes me think. I have never been one to believe in fait, I have never said things happend for a reason and I sure as heck never believed in destiny, but for the first time in my life I have had so many things falling into certain places at certain times that I really do have to stop and think. Next Thursday is my surgery and I am so happy to have my mother watching over me at this time. She gives me power and my motivation that makes me so optimistic through all of this. The way I see it Thursday can not come soon enough. I have a great team and am ecstatic to see my sisters. So go give your mom an extra big hug tonight because one day you won’t be able to.
November 2, 2012 | 1 Comment
You are not promised a tomorrow nor guaranteed another minute.
All we truly have is this moment. Last night one of my sisters best friends, Jolie lost her husband. Mitch Lucker, father, husband and musician died in a motorcycle accident in Huntington Beach. And just like that his daughter will now grow up without her father, Jolie lost her husband and the world lost a great musician. All around us people are forgetting that life is a gift, a special small amount of time allotted to each of us to live, laugh and love. It is much easier to fight and bicker than to make the tough choices in life, suck up your pride and always show the ones you love, just how much you need them. There has never been a person to say that life is easy. In fact, life is brutal. Life will kick the shit out of you and then it will spit on you while you are down. The thing about life though, is the amount of beauty and power always outweighs the bad. The tragic passing of Mitch is another reminder to us all to truly understand just how short life can be. If we forget for just one second or take it for granted, it could be too late. Mitch was far too young and shined much too bright to be taken. There are no words that can be spoken to calm Jolie’s pain and when her daughter grows older, I only hope she holds the fondest and best memories of her father. I met Mitch a few times and every time I saw him he was always so full of life. Tattooed from neck to toe and limb to limb he had a voice like a chainsaw and a heart like a saint. Mitch will not be forgotten anytime soon, and there is no doubt that generations will know his name for some time to come. He died that romantic death that is all too familiar for musicians and all too hard for their families. RIP x
October 31, 2012 | 1 Comment
The date is set. The mental games have been played. I have won. There is nothing left to do now, but wait another week and a couple days. This actually works out quite well for me. To begin with, I thought I was going to be in the hospital for Halloween. Now I get to hand out candy. I also was under the assumption I would be recovering during the Servite / Mater Dei game. Now I get to attend it. I am going into this surgery with the highest hopes, but I will be expecting the worst. Whatever the outcome is, I have no control over it, so as my high school football coach Larry Toner once told me, “Mr. Coffelt, is there anyway you can control this certain situation, can you manipulate the outcome to your liking?” Me, “No.” Coach, “Then why are you worrying about it?” There really is no point in worrying about things that you have absolutely no control over. Sure there are things which one might want to put a little extra time into, but when it is all said in done, certain things in life you have absolutely no control over and just have to accept it. There are countless mantras, prayers and sayings that say this same thing in 1,000 different ways. People hear it all day long and pretend to think this way, but deep down they still worry and stress. The past 4 nights I have slept like a baby. I eat more now than I did before I found out and my head is clearer than ever before. I have accepted the battle, whether it goes into something terribly hard or something not so bad. I have been through some tough times in my life and I am prepared to take this on no matter what the doctor tells me. I have an amazing family and my friends are basically the cats pajamas. (Still don’t know what that means, but I think it is a cool saying) I still have not fully digested the fact that I have an unknown object growing inside my brain and I don’t think I ever will, but I don’t think I need to either. It will eventually be out (I wonder if they will let me keep it as a souvenir) and I will get on with my life. This experience has done so much for me and it has only been a week. I am closer to my friends now than I can ever recall. I have persuaded a few of my friends to quit smoking / chewing tobacco (whoever is left…..) I get to see BOTH of my sisters in California instead of Portland! And most of all this changed my ENTIRE outlook on life from top to bottom. I have re-evaluated my diet and am now actually putting a lot of thought into what I put into my body. Not many people think about nor care to know that what they put into their body DIRECTLY affects your health in every way. What you eat truly is what you are. If you put crap into your body, (which I have been known to do) your body will change. I am still sorting through my research and trying to decide how to present what I am finding in the least biased and factual way. What I can say now is that everyone needs to cut as much sugar and white bread out of their diet as possible. Humans evolved eating around 2 pounds of sugar a year. Today that number is somewhere around 150 punds give or take. Cokes, energy drinks and even fruit juices are all crammed with sugar. Cancers feed on sugar and give the cancer the food it needs to grow. By cutting your sugar intake in half you dramatically start to reduce your chance of cancers forming in your body.
Many people do no not know, or maybe do not understand that every single person walking on earth today has cancer cells in their body. The question is only whether or not the conditions are correct for them to implant and start multiplying. Nearly the whole population of the United States have the optimal environment for cancer growth, we can change that… I will have a copious amount of free time coming up here pretty soon and when I do, I hope that you all read what I have to say about health, fitness and the Western way of life. I am not going to preach to you all that you must change, I simply want to help inform anyone who might not be otherwise informed and let you make an informed decision.
Until then I leave you with another quote of awesomeness by the great scholar and poet Will Ferrell, “Well I could be wrong, but I think diversity is an old wooden ship used in the civil war era.”
October 29, 2012 | 5 Comments
It seems the universe always has a way to put you in your place. To be honest, I have been staying extremely optimistic since the beginning. I have never once asked “why me?” or even allowed myself to shed a tear. The hardest part about all of this was breaking the news to my sisters and family. It seemed like when they found out they were heart broken and wanted nothing more then to save me. Even in times when we are suffering, we often forget that there are people MUCH worse off than we are. This morning, I happened to find out a fellow Friar, Sonny Kaesbauer ’04 was paralyzed in a swimming accident in August. It has been two months now and Sonny has not been able to take a single step. I knew Sonny quite well through football and he is an amazing and strong person. He will walk again, for that there is no question in my mind. It is simply a matter of when and how much hard work, and determination it will take. Sonny has what may seem like an insurmountable road ahead of him, but with our help he will take it on with ease. He has a couple of fund raising sites to help him get the rehab he needs to one day be able to walk again, they are http://www.gofundme.com/1adm80 or http://www.4teamsonny.com. Just when I was almost ready to start feeling sorry for myself I read about Sonny. Stay strong Sonny and remember ‘The four D’s’ in your rehab. There has never been an easy journey for those who are great.
This past weekend was a well needed relaxation. I don’t recall a time in my life being so stressed and yet so relaxed. Friday after eating a raw food lunch at 118 Degrees in Costa Mesa, I felt refreshed and energized. I knew what was coming, but I had no fear. Even if the doctor would have told me I only have 6 months and I should start my bucket list, it wouldn’t have mattered. The reason is- I truly know that this is just a blip on my timeline. My life is going to continue, (weather you like it or not) for a long time. I knew that when I woke up Friday and I know it today. Saturday was another relaxing day. I watched some college football and went to an amazing dinner with Tasha’s family. It was nice to catch up with them and seeing her family reminds me why I am so lucky to have her in my life. After dinner, we went and watched a ‘scary’ movie. Sinister, which had potential to be a good flick, but then just kind of just sailed off into the comedy sector unintentionally. I will say though, seeing the movie with 6 beautiful women Andrea, Brighton, Stacy, Kellie, Kelsey and my babe of a gf Tasha made quite the happy camper. Sunday was by far the best though. Spent half of the day at the beach and watching football. Then came back to have a backyard bonfire with a delicious vegetarian dinner and amazing company. This experience is a daily lesson in life. It reminds you that there is no need to sweat the small stuff. Arguing over petty and overall pointless things in life is an extreme waste of time and energy. If we are on this planet only one time and for an extremely SMALL amount of time, then we must take advantage of every second we are afforded. Every person has an obligation to themselves to not waste their time and this experience has re-taught me this. I learned this with my mother and after she passed I set out about to do what I wanted and not let time be a factor, but I soon forgot what she taught me. It is far too easy to fall back into the routine of the Western society and forget that you need to live the shit out of life. Sitting on a couch watching TV is not what we are meant to do. We are meant to be out and about with friends and loved ones. We are meant to explore and push the boundaries of what scares us. Humans are an amazing species that in the last 200 years have gone from horse drawn transportation to the moon and mars. 200 years is a small blip in the overall life of this planet and if we were able to accomplish that much in so little time, there is no telling what the future holds. The future that we are in charge of creating, this future is only going to be as great as we make it and I for one hope to see my children live on a planet that is far beyond what we see today.
For now though, I must first have this monster taken out of my head. My doctor, Dr. Stea is also a Servite grad of ’75 and if there is anyone in the world I would trust with my brain, it would be a fellow Friar. Once he gets this thing out of me I will get back on track. There is a long recovery after brain surgery, but I already have my mindset on recovering in half the time the average recovery takes. I will be back to 100% before you guys know it. Thanks again to all my friends and amazing family. You guys are awesome.
October 26, 2012 | 3 Comments
I met Dr. Stea today and as I knew already, I will have to have my tumor removed. Brain surgery is never an easy thing, but I feel like I am in good hands with Dr. Stea. Dr. Stea said based on what he sees in the initial MRI along with my age and where it is in my brain, he is cautiously optimistic that it is benign. There is absolutely no way to know what kind of tumor it is until it is looked at under the microscope. This is somewhat of a relief seeing as how 3 days ago I was being told there is a 99% chance that it IS cancer. Little did I know, the Dr. I spoke to in the ER was a RESIDENT! I am sure she was just trying to be helpful as much as she could, but in a way I think I owe her a thanks. I began preparing myself with the thought that I am going to be in a battle with cancer. In this battle I would have to dramatically re-arrange my life. Everything from my diet to my way of life would be changing and I was ready for that. Regardless of weather or not it is cancer, this whole experience has changed my life. Dramatically. I am still going to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I feel like this amazing army of friends and family has helped me in so many ways. So, still waiting to hear back from the surgery appointment setter to find out when they are gonna chop me open and take out my monster, until then please continue to keep those positive thoughts/prayers/mental hugs coming my way. I am still not out of the bullets path but I like to think I have my armor well prepared.
Steve Hamrock gave me a book called “Anti Cancer.” (Thank you!) This book is an amazing piece of literature and I think that everyone needs to read it. Many people don’t understand exactly how much of what we put into our body directly affects us in such a negative way. If only we could see the inside of our body on a molecular level I don’t think any person would do some of the things they do to themselves. To start with, first and foremost my friends who smoke or chew tobacco need to quit. It is THE ONLY known carcinogen that people knowingly ingest that harms the body in every way possible. So Alex, Chris, Gio, Stacy, Dan, Davis, Brent, Curtis and anyone I didn’t name and all of you other kids who “Smoke when we drink” should probably just quit. Your body is an amazing machine and is capable of repairing itself as long as you help it. Smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco tears down natural defenses your body needs to fight off the bad stuff that can harm us. Just taking this one toxin out of your body will decrease your chances of having cancer exponentially and it begins to happen within a day!
There is so much more that you can do to help your health and I will make another post about that stuff once I investigate a bit more into it and can be as informative and factually correct as possible. What I will say now is that my life has changed and I hope that if I can help change one person than all of this will have been worth it.
THANK YOU! And you and you and you and you! I can not thank you all enough for the support. I truly feel like I can take on the world and not even flinch. Tonight was an amazing night filled with friends, family, laughs and love. Bowling for brains is what I shall dub the night. Friends from work met friends from high school. Friends from my girlfriends past met friends from my past. People coming together all just to hang out and throw some balls at some pins. It was amazingly therapeutic and relaxing. If it wasn’t for the lame headache I could have gone all night!
October 25, 2012 | 2 Comments
So, I guess those generic sleeping pills from target are well worth it. Had an amazing night of sleep last night after nearly nil the previous 2. Waking up refreshed instead of full of anxiety and nervousness is a much appreciated feeling. It really is amazing how much your mindset changes when you are faced with an overwhelming situation. I watched my mother battle cancer and through her struggles I learned to appreciate things that I probably took for granted. Over time I began to forget how to be thankful for what I have rather than worrying about what I don’t. Now that I am experiencing this first hand, it is at a whole new level. I am truly SOOOOOO thankful and gracious for the HUGE ARMY of friends and family that I never even knew I had. My Servite Family has come back in droves and people I didn’t even go to school with are coming out and standing with me. Like the tattoo on my shoulder says which I got in honor of my mother, I will Fight the Good Fight. My family and friends are incredible to say the least. It is hard not to be emotional in times like this, but I refuse to cry. I will not shed a tear because like Lisa Sahagun a fellow tumor survivor says, this is a business transaction. It will be met and greeted like so. The outcome will be in my favor because I am a businessman.
“One step at a time. One day at a time. I will stay in the now an live for the next moment I am given.”
This small mantra is something I am finding myself saying more and more. Life is truly a gift and you given every breathe you take. Once you forget that or deny that, life will show you exactly why you need to pay closer attention. I am not trying to get super mushy or philosophical, but if there is one message I want to get across from all of this, it is don’t stop and smell the roses. Live life like you have no tomorrow and love everyone like they are the closest thing to you. I was a perfectly healthy 27 year old young adult on a pretty decent life path 3 days ago. Today I have a potentially life threatening monster dwelling in the darkness of my brain. Sometimes life throws you curveballs and you have to adjust your swing, but don’t forget that it is a gift and YOU MUST experience the bad in life to love and cherish the good.
IMS? More like I-MAZING! —
Today is day 2, or technically I guess you could say day three since I found out the awesome news on Monday. Yesterday was a crazy and non-stop thrill ride filled with an astonishing amount of love and support I honestly was not expecting in the least. This blog I started just as ways to express my story and tell my family and friends what was happening with me on a day to day basis has turned into something a little bit bigger. It was viewed over 3500 times in less than 24 hours… I am pretty sure I dont know half that many people. I got e-mails from people I have never even met saying that I am inspiring them and I need to keep doing it. So – I shall. I shall not only continue on this journey with my updates and awesome puns, but I will try my hardest to keep you all in on every bit of this battle that I can (including the not so fun stuff, so be prepared.)
Today I had a choice, I could either sit at home, watch TV and mope around feeling sorry for myself, or I could go to work and be with some amazing people. I think you all know what I decided on. I have now worked at The IMS Company in Brea for a little less than two months thanks to the reference of my good ‘ol pal Fidel. In those two months I have been embraced and brought into the family in a way I could have never expected. The IMS family is close, very close and I didn’t realize it until today. My wo-worker Roxy forced me to go to lunch even after I told her very clearly that I have not really eaten a proper meal in about 3 days. Its more like take a bite of something – chew as fast as I can and swallow before I have to spit it out – wait an hour and repeat. So I agreed and thought it would be nice to have one last lunch with my co-workers before I head out on this unknown journey. Well, sneaky Roxy had something in store for me which I never expected – The entire repairs team, half of production and a handfull of folks from our endless other departments were waiting patiently at BJ’s. It was amazing to walk in and see so many happy faces and I was immediately in a better mood. Lunch was amazing and though I did not eat anything, the company was all that mattered. It was a lunch I will never forget and I didn’t have a single bite of food.
After lunch I headed back to the office and picked up on my mission to get my MRI scan to a Dr. My good friend Ryan Kalil has built a relationship with through USC. Dr. Apuzzo is an extremely well known neurosurgeon (according to Ryan so chances are he barely got through med school) that was willing to take a look at my MRI and try to help with any questions or concerns I have before I talked to my surgeon. The only catch, he is in LA and I need to have them to him before tomorrow 11am when he leaves for a flight to Japan. Kaiser once again came through and gave me a disc with the entire scan on it. So I left work around 4 to get to a different Kaiser in Anaheim to pick up my package. I drove straight to Fed-Ex and I am not hoping they don’t eff up and deliver it after he leaves. (Cmon Fed-Ex!!) After Fed-Ex, a true miracle happened! I was actually hungry!! I demanded Tasha take me somewhere gourmet, healthy and guaranteed to be high in calories as well as customer friendly service oriented.