This has been the hardest and most trying time in my life. I have grown and matured more since the start of this journey then the entire rest of my life. There is absolutely no way I would have been able to make it this far without the help of so many people, and I mean a lot of people; people from all over the world I have never met, friends family and even children! I have tried to thank everyone individually, but sometimes I forget or I might have missed you. I want to make sure everyone knows how thankful I am for all the help this past year.
I was surfing one time on a cold Winter day a few years ago. There was an exceptionally strong rip current pulling hard out to sea and being on a surfboard was hard enough swimming around. It was silent and other than a couple surfers a few hundred yards down the beach I was all alone. I noticed a couple teenagers playing in the shallow water near the sand and my only thought was “I am in a wetsuit freezing my balls off and you guys are wearing shorts, how are you not ice cubes?” I caught a couple more waves and was about to call it a day when I noticed one of the kids decided to swim out a bit, and in the worst possible spot. He got caught right in the rip current pulling him out way faster than he could swim. I watched for a second hoping he would figure out how to get out of the current, but he was clearly not used to ocean waters and was doing the exact opposite of what you should do when caught in a rip. Within 10 seconds I knew this kid was in bad shape and I began paddling towards him. I lost sight of him a couple times and his friend was running along the beach semi-directing me to his where abouts. Before I knew it he was further out then I was and there was nobody anywhere near him. I paddled as fast as I could and he was panicking, the closer I got the more I could hear him yelling in a foreign language which I believe was Russian. I got to him in what was probably the last second possible. He was hysterical and would not have lasted another 30 seconds in the water. He was shaking and yelling and I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. The second I got to him he literally threw me off my board and straddled it with both his arms and his legs bear hugging it with every ounce of strength he had. I held onto the side and let him regain his breath and composure as we drifted further into the Pacific. After a couple minutes I realized we were getting further and further and knowing I was going to be doing the paddling I tried to fashion him on the back of the board with his legs off the back and mine on the side. It took us a good 15 or 20 minutes to get back to the shore and the second he realized he could touch he jumped off my board and ran. He didn’t say a word the entire time and I don’t think he ever thanked me, but I know what I did for him so it did not matter. We drifted about a mile or more North of where I was parked and the walk back was brutal. Freezing cold and wet I trekked back to my car contemplating hitching a ride with every passing car.
The reason I am telling this story for what I think is only the 2nd or third time is because I want everyone who has supported me to know that they are truly helping to save my life. GBMs are terrible and without the help of everyone I honestly am not sure where I would be.
There are a few people who went well above and beyond the norm and I would like to recognize them here.
First person I have to thank is Dr. Joseph Chen. I do not even remember if I thanked him, but he was my surgeon and he performed the most exceptionally flawless craniotomy possible. I was symptom free and out of the hospital faster than anyone expected. He is a great surgeon and an even better human. He gave me the best possible starting point and I owe a lot to him.
Thank you mom for guiding me.
Thank you Lola for inspiring me.
Thank you all who lost their battles and those currently in them for being my support.
Emily, you have been so helpful, guiding and assistive through this you broke the news to me in the best way possible and your optimism has helped keep me optimistic.
George! You make things happen and you always hook it up with the free parking!
Dr. Green, always on top of it.
All my nurses and radiation techs who were so nice to me during all my mean and grumpy days when all I wanted to do was yell at everyone. You guys are awesome and I hope I never have to see you again!
Everyone at UCLA and especially Stacy. You guys were so welcoming and I hope nothing but the best for all of you, but I hope we only see each other at GBM conferences from now on. No more doctors offices. And I know you probably are still laughing at some my recommendations on here, but
Dr. Rita Elethorpe- The best doctor I have ever met period. She changed my life in more ways than one.
Ryan, without you there would have been no Dr. Chen by way of your USC community. That and everything with LKF, Servite was the best thing that happened to me.
Servite High School and the whole Servite, Rosary, Connelly community. All I can say is that no one would understand unless they are apart of it. CREDO
Linda, Talon and everyone else at TLC- You guys are the most amazing bunch of people on earth. Linda is my therapist and friend as well as the most epic nurse I have ever met.
Stephen and Sue Hamrock- You guys know how much you have done for me this past year and years before. I will always be grateful to have you guys in my life.
Joe Renton and everyone at Zodiac (formerly IMS.) You guys are amazing and I will thoroughly miss working with all of you!
Jessica and Leah- You guys were responsible for the fundraiser which allowed to start the recovery process and not have to worry about running myself into an enormous amount of debt. You guys are amazing humans with enormous souls and I hope I can do something awesome for you guys one day.
Paul and Julie Buster and everyone at The Dream Junction.
Everyone at Uranium, To Die For, and Lira Clothing.
Thanks to everyone who came and stayed with me or visited me at my radiation residence in LA and gave me rides to and from UCLA- Alex, Alissa, Kelsey, Chris, Tylia, Stacy, Ryan, Tony, Greyson, Kellie, Brighton, Claire, Andrea, Nilo and anyone else I may have forgot. You guys kept me from totally going crazy in that establishment.
Everyone who donated anything to the benefit show, I do not even know who all of you were, but there were a lot of you guys! Thanks!
Everyone who has prayed for me, sent positive vibes, mental hugs and high fives.
Everyone who has donated any amount of money to me or bought a shirt. From $10-$3,000 every penny helped in so many ways. Many of these people I have known for years and some I have never met. You guys are saints and I hope if you ever need anything from me you will not hesitate to ask.
All of my friends for believing in me,
And most of all my family and my utterly amazing girlfriend Natashia. No matter how mean, stressed, sad, depressed or difficult I was- or am, always managed to make me happy again! You guys have been rock solid through all of this and I know I am a little dick head sometimes, but you have never left my side. You guys have been there for me so many times before and still continue to be; all the car rides around all of Southern California, trips to the store, picking up my medications, cleaning up my vomit during my chemo adventures, dealing with my hulk like mood swings while on steroids, and more than anything all the love. Thanks to my sisters and their families for welcoming me into their homes when I needed to get away from everything down here. I doubt having a house guest for weeks on end is fun, but you guys always accommodated. LOVE YOU ALL AND MISS YOU EVERYDAY!
And thank you- just reading this. You make it worth all the typing