A brain tumor is not necessarily a "death sentence".
However, it is a life changing occurrence!
Welcome to "They Call Me 'Galvez'". My friends really do. I can be friends with almost anybody! I'm just a regular guy that had a brain tumor and wants to do something positive with it. This web site is dedicated to my unique journey over the last year. I'm a 31 year old physical therapist in beautiful San Diego, California. I was diagnosed with a golf-ball sized brain tumor in September 2005. I had brain surgery a month later to remove it. It took me almost 1 year to fully recover. I've always believed that things happen for a reason. I really feel like all my life experiences helped me to deal with this crushing diagnosis. I have led a very interesting life thus far, but I still have a lot of things I need to do. After the surgery, I was receiving rehab at the hospital where I used to work. The people I used to work side by side with were now treating me as a patient! Please take your time browsing this site to learn more about my wild ride through this unique experience. If you’re a student or brain tumor patient, drop me a line; I'd love to hear from you
I’m actually going to be in town this year for World Famous San Diego Comic Con! I went downtown last year for the festivities, but I haven’t been inside the actual convention center since 2010… going downtown is always fun because there are a lot of people in costumes dressed up for people watching, there is something going on, and of course FREE PROMOTIONAL STUFF! It’s like Halloween in warm weather. I went to my first Comic Convention in Michigan back in the 90s actually, a friend dragged me to a Star Trek convention too. I didn’t wear a costume though… I won’t get dressed up for anything unless I have too. In high school, I was the typical jock. I played sports every season, but I was secretly obsessed with science fiction and comic books. Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace my geekiness! You can try to hide it or learn to embrace it. I’m proud to be different.
Oh man… there will be so many costumed characters in San Diego next weekend! It will fun people watching! Last year I got a kick out of this guy playing the “Ocarana of Time” from the Legend of Zelda outside the Gaslamp trolley stop. I wasted so much time playing this video game! I don’t know what was worse: me playing for hours in the living room OR my roommates watching me play for hours and giving me STRATEGIC advice… HAHAHA! Anyways… Been laying the ground work for a VERY BUSY Sept, Oct, and Nov… Stay Tuned! Some BIG NEWS is coming!
This summer I hit the 40 mark! Hard to believe because I still consider myself a kid at heart! People always think I’m younger because I can be pretty immature. It has been a crazy ride! My 20s were all about finding out who I am. I became comfortable with my inner geek and discovered my Asian American and Filipino American Pride. My 30s were about discovering what I’m capable of. A couple years after I earned a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, EVERYTHING was taken away and I had to find the new me. I was re-born as a young “brain tumor thriver” after a shocking period of uncertainty. Things could have “ended” much sooner, but I feel very blessed to have made it this far! A brush with your mortality puts things in perspective. I definitely appreciate things more. I’m more laid back now, however my passion in fighting ALL forms of tumors/cancers is only getting stronger. I think my 4th decade of life is full of potential! I’m still learning to adapt my skills and experiences into my new passion for life. I appreciate what I have, but there is much work to be done in combating these diseases. There are so many different professional paths to choose. The options are only limited by my imagination. One thing is certain, I will continue expressing my feelings about tumors/cancer and educating others about a proactive lifestyle after a tumor/cancer diagnosis! PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW THAT THERE IS LIFE AFTER A TUMOR/CANCER DIAGNOSIS!
mAss Kickers Foundation has some big plans in the works internationally! We are teaming with Esperity, an international oncology social media platform, on a very unique event. This will be very cool!
La Mesa, California USA – On June 6, 2015 Nine teams that consisted of physical therapy students, physical therapists, health care professionals, cancer survivors, and community members gathered at Helix High School Sports Fields for a unique event to support mAss Kickers Foundation’s 2015 Charity Kickball Tournament. Teams competed for the coveted Championship P.I.M.P. (Pugilistic Individual Mass-Kickn’ with Pride) Chalices. Check out some of the picture!
The event was created to support mAss Kickers Foundation’s “How to Kick mAss” International Thrivership Program. Internationally, cancer survivorship is not as prominent as it is in the United States. mAss Kickers Foundation’s goal is to educate the future healthcare professionals, current healthcare professionals, and patients to dispel the negative stigma that cancer is a death sentence.
mAss Kickers Foundation firmly believes that the global stigma of a tumor/cancer diagnosis as a death sentence needs to be addressed and that tumor/cancer thrivers can be both a symbol and voice of hope in dispelling the myth that cancer is a death sentence. Over the past two years, we have taken survivors to: Tokyo, Japan; Manila, Philippines; Seoul, South Korea; and Singapore, Singapore to meet other survivors in different countries AND lecture to health professionals/oncology researchers about the survivor experience. Plans are in the works to take survivors to meet other survivors and present in Brussels, Belgium later in 2015.
Please consider a tax-deductible donation and support your favorite Kickball Team or Kickball Player to support our plans to educate the WORLD about a proactive life after a tumor/cancer diagnosis. We are looking forward to visiting another continent! No other organization is doing this yet! Be a part of something new and exciting! Any thing will help! We are almost to our goal!
How can one single moment summarize or bring to a close a world of shared memories and experiences. I hate that feeling because there is always so much you want to say, and no matter how many times you rehearse everything in your head it never comes out right. At least it never does for me. I remember the first time I said goodbye. Scarred me for life. I must have been three years old, and I remember this vividly.
My aunt in Canada just had a second child, and my Lola (“grandmother” to my non-pinoy friends) was going to move out of our house. I was crushed when I first found out because she used to stay home with me when my parents were at work. She’d read me stories and cook me french fries whenever I wanted them. She used to fall asleep in the middle of a story and I would have to poke her face to wake her up. HA HA HA, That was so fun! The world was perfect back then. Then I found out she was leaving. I needed to do something before we got to the bus station in Windsor. I remember putting my hand in her coat pocket when we got to the station. I kept it in there for at least 20 minutes. I was determined to keep my hand in that pocket cause that way she couldn’t leave. I was brilliant. I was not taking that hand out! There was no way she was going to leave now, my hand was seriously stuck. Then we could go home and I could have some fries with a good old fashioned fairy tale. When she finally had to board her bus, I just didn’t want to let go. I kept repeating “NO, I can’t take it out! Don’t go Lola”. My parents had to literally drag me (and my stuck hand) away. This must have been quite a scene: A young Filipino couple dragging away a crying child complaining of an imaginary “stuck” hand. To this day I still think it would have worked, if at three, I was stronger then my both mom and dad combined.
I’m not sure which is harder: being the one left behind, or being the one leaving. Case and point… my first move out to California (cross country roadtrip #1). The whole reason I left Michigan was because I felt like I was stuck in a rut. My girlfriend at the time was gone and there was nothing holding me there. I could take classes at CSULB and apply to PT schools from California. I needed to take a risk, I wasn’t going anywhere in Ann Arbor… There was a better life waiting for me in California. So much was up in the air. Not yet in PT school. No job. Went totally on a whim. Took a big risk leaving my comfort zone! I remember almost seeing my dad cry when we left the house. Powerful stuff… Bringing the toughest guy I know to tears. For the first time in my life, I was both scared AND excited. From there we went to TGIF to have dinner with my friends. I chose this place because it was the happiest restaurant I could think of. No one is allowed to be sad in there. Dinner was cool. Really late. I remember a lot of pictures being taken. Smiling on the outside and scared to death on the inside. Kept it together right up until we stepped outside. Gave somebody the first hug, and then it all came out. It was like a receiving line, but both guys and girls girls crying. Dude, I’m a pretty emotional guy when it comes to family and friends. But that is it.
Ever since I’ve been involved in brain tumor advocacy, I’ve lost so many close friends and it hurts every time. It doesn’t get any easier. Lately, our survivor family has lost a few brain tumor warriors. It is hard to think about all the great spirits that were lost too early. This one hurt a little more because she and her family became good friends. She was another one of my brain tumor “twin sisters”. She was also into surfing and fighting physical impairments due to her treatment. We tried getting into swimming, but we both got a little sick after trying to swim in the chlorinated pool water. Scratch that… HAHAHA! She has a cute 6 month old baby girl and her husband has been a rock supporting her the entire time I’ve known them! He has been through a lot as well! Thank You Amanda for teaching me to keep my chin up and inspiring me to continue fighting! It’s going to be hard saying goodbye, so I’ll just say, “See you again.”….
A team of health care professionals works closely to provide cancer rehabilitation. The team members help a person adapt to his or her situation, whether the changes are temporary or permanent. These professionals may include any of the following:
Oncologist. This doctor treats cancer, and may be responsible for leading the cancer rehabilitation team.
Physiatrist, also called a rehabilitation specialist. This doctor treats injuries and illnesses that affect how people move, including treating pain.
Rehabilitation nurse. A rehabilitation nurse helps people with a long-term illness, disability, or injury regain physical abilities. They can also help improve a person’s ability to care for himself or herself and adjust to a changed lifestyle. A rehabilitation nurse can also provide education and counseling to patients and families.
Physical therapist. This health care professional helps patients improve their physical strength and ability to move. This is especially important for people who notice physical changes after cancer treatment that affect how they move. People experiencing the following challenges can benefit from physical therapy.
Muscle loss from long-term bed rest
Needing a cane or other assistive device
Physical therapists may also help with some types of pain with treatments such as ultrasound.
Occupational therapist. This professional helps patients perform the activities important to them with methods and tools to increase function, comfort, and safety. Occupational therapists design a tailored therapy plan based on the layout of a person’s home, school, or work place. They can also help manage fatigue by teaching methods to help reduce the effort needed to do certain tasks.
Lymphedema therapist. Lymphedema is a buildup of fluid from damage to lymph nodes during cancer treatment. A certified lymphedema therapist can help manage this condition with compression garments, specialized massage and bandaging methods, and exercises.
Recreational therapist. This professional uses games, exercise, arts, crafts, and music to help a person with cancer reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. These activities can also help people build confidence and strengthen personal skills.
Dietitian. This food and nutrition professional helps people with cancer understand their special needs. A dietitian can recommend diets or meal plans. Dietitians may also monitor the body weight and dietary needs of a person with cancer.
Psychologist/psychiatrist. These and other mental health professionals address the emotional, psychological, and behavioral needs of the person with cancer and those of his or her family. Such needs may be longstanding or may have resulted from the challenges of cancer and its treatment. These mental health professionals can help patients cope with their experience and the changes in their lives.
Social worker. This professional provides a variety of services, which may include:
Counseling patients and families in moving care from the hospital to home and providing home care
Helping with coping skills and lifestyle changes
Leading support groups.
Help in coping with financial concerns
Linking patients and families to community resources
Home-health aide. This person helps with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, using the toilet, and moving around the home. Some home health aides receive training to provide more complex services under the supervision of a nurse. Find out more about home health care.
Vocational counselor. This professional helps people recovering from cancer find and keep a satisfying job. This is an important service for those who may no longer be able to return to their previous position because of physical or emotional changes.
Clergy member or chaplain. This professional offers spiritual support and rituals for patients and their families, leads support groups, and offers support in health crisis situations. Most hospitals have clergy who work with people of all faiths. However, some people choose to work with their own clergy member.
Case manager. This professional helps design and monitor the cancer rehabilitation program. Case managers often act as the link between the person with cancer, the cancer rehabilitation team, and the insurance provider.
Speech-language pathologist (SLP). This professional specializes in communication and swallowing disorders. An SLP helps patients regain their speaking, swallowing, and oral motor skills after cancer treatment that affects the head, mouth, and neck.
I’m finding less time to blog, so my entries are getting less frequent. I’m gearing up for a trip home to Michigan at the end of the month on top of that, I’m trying to setup the next international speaking engagement. I’ve been invited to speak at the Michigan Physical Therapy Association Student Conclave and the Michigan Physical Therapy Association Spring Conference in Bay City Michigan at the end of the month. I always look forward to coming back and reconnecting with old friends and family! Growing up, I always felt different from everyone because I was ALWAYS the smallest and most shy kid in the room. Sports brought me out of my shell. I finally met more people similar to me in college. I got involved in the Asian American and Filipino American student groups because I felt like I had to get involved and spread my new-found pride about my heritage. I’ll admit that I probably had too much fun in college, but it really helped to form who I am today. I learned so much outside of the classroom at the University of Michigan!
I then moved to LA to go to school full time and improve my GPA before applying to grad schools. After a year in California, I moved back to Michigan to start physical therapy school at U of M-Flint. Before I left for LA, I applied to the U of M-Flint Physical Therapy Program since I still had my Michigan residency. I graduated from Physical Therapy school with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree in December 2003. I woke up one morning and decided I should move to San Diego. So I did. I’ve done the Michigan-California drive five times, three times with a companion and twice by myself. I knew 2 people in San Diego when I moved. I made some good friends in San Diego, but in the back of my mind I still missed everything and everyone I left behind in Michigan. This is when things got interesting!
Surprisingly, I’m finding that I don’t mind public speaking. I’m very comfortable talking about my experience as a healthcare professional turned neuro rehab patient/brain tumor survivor. In the beginning, I couldn’t get through the presentation with out getting emotional. Over time, I’ve learned how to get through the “tough part” of the presentation. Making people laugh has made it easier for me to talk about my experiences. I have now spoken all over the country and am starting to speak more internationally. Coming back to Michigan is always special because it toughens me up every time. My family and friends have no problem reminding me who I am so they keep me grounded. They have no problem calling me out on my “laziness” and refocusing me on what I should be doing! My family and close friends in Michigan ALWAYS “keep it real” with me, which I find refreshing. I know that they can dish it out and won’t be easily offended when I “return fire.” This should be a very interesting return trip to Michigan.
I got some more cool stuff in the works… stay tuned…
They Call Me Galvez
He was diagnosed with a Brain Tumor. He is a physical therapist that became a patient. He became someone he's always tried to help. He's published 2 books, started an organization, started a business. What is he up to now?
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