something-special.jpg

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

Blog and Random blog16 Aug 2017 07:58 am

It has been a crazy transition to August. I had my first final in 14 years!  Crazy preparing for it.  I think my short term memory is horrible, but my long term memory is still very good.  Ask me if I remember specific scenes from the original Star Wars Trilogy… Anyways, I figured out that I have to commit things to long term memory to do well on exams/quizzes.  Problem is that the process of saving things to long term memory is a very intensive process… going over things thoroughly 4 or 5 times, instead of once or twice.  Couple minor short term memory impairments with the physical impairments of tremors/ataxia/minor double vison/ minor speech dysarthria and you have some major obstacles in the classroom.   Based on my experiences in the summer session at UCSD, I think they can be addressed:  Extra time to take quizzes/exams, use of a laptop, seating in the front of the classroom, and a note taker or presentation sharing.  Technology is great… I use my smart phone to set reminders/alerts and create “to do” lists to address short term memory lapses.  (Maybe I’m just getting older… hee hee hee…)

Anyways, I started cleaning out my place in San Diego this week and started shipping stuff to Houston.  Again, I get to be the new guy.  I’ve become very familiar with that role.  To me, it’s kind of exciting to start fresh and test yourself against new challenges.  It’s like starting with a clean slate… No body knows you, and you don’t know anybody.  I do know a few people in Houston, so the transition will be a little easier than my transition to San Diego from Michigan.  In San Diego, I was immersed with many peers in similar life stages developing their professional lives.  With this return to school in a new environment, I’m not so sure I’ll find people in similar life stages.  I’m gonna be the oddball. Professionally this move makes sense, but the task of finding new peers to hangout with might be challenging.

Developing a strategy for adapting to a new environment is half the excitement for me.  Planning and training feed my Type A Personality, but socially I’m very laid-back.  That is a very odd dynamic.  I like working with “Go-getters”, but I like to hangout with people who are “chill” and laugh at everything.  A strategy for a return to school is starting to form.  The goal is to publish more peer-reviewed articles.  I’ve published independent articles from my perspective, but I need to strengthen my scientific writing.

I’m leaving for Houston on Friday morning to start a new adventure!  I move into my apartment in Houston on Friday!  2 more days in San Diego!  Gotta grab a California Burrito and a Habit Burger before I leave!

Blog and school29 Jul 2017 09:41 pm

I can’t believe the semester is over next week!  The semester flew by! I was just getting back into my “student groove”…

I’ve learned a few important things…

  1. I have difficulty physically taking notes in class.  Need assistance.  I write main points, but it is a crap shoot if I will be able to read them later!
  2. Writing is still illegible, actually worse. It was bad before, but it’s pretty bad now!  Typing is slow because I can only use one hand.
  3. I need to sit in front of class to avoid distractions.
  4. Review lecture readings text twice before class.
  5. Sleep early… no TV till the weekend… luckily no football in the summer… this is why I like watching movies in the summer…
  6. Eliminate distractions… BYE BYE FACEBOOK!
  7. Caffeine can help delay the need for an afternoon siesta, but I crash hard!
  8. Quizes/tests require extra time.  Need extra time to make accommodations to comprehend (minor double vision issues) + respond with typing/emailing my answers…
  9. Participating in discussion is sometimes difficult due to mild speech issues.  I’m better in one on one/small groups.
  10. I like listening to movie soundtracks, Rat Pack/Big band, and classical music when studying…

I’m wondering how other students with physical disabilities address classroom issues.  I’m still pretty sure my cognition is intact, but I think the physiological challenges of returning to class can be addressed!

Blog and school08 Jul 2017 01:22 pm

The first week of school went well.  I feel so old!  I think that I graduated college before some of my classmates were born!  (technically, I could be their father…) HAHAHA!  I thought I stuck out before… now I really stick out! (I look and act young, but have the soul of a 60 year old.) I actually contacted the Office of Students with Disabilities  (AKA “OSD”) before the first day of classes to make sure the process of going back to school was an easy transition.  They were very accommodating! They were able to get me a note taker for lectures, private testing spaces for exams, and priority seating in the front of the classroom/lecture hall to eliminate distractions.  Luckily the campus is very wheelchair accessible.  Some of the older schools I’ve visited are not as handicap friendly.  In-class quizzes for my “psychology in healthcare” class are only 10 mins, but I’ve discovered that it’s very difficult to read/process all the multiple choice answers on the projector.  I’ve found that 45 seconds is not enough time for me to visually/cognitively/physically process the questions and select the correct answer.  Writing for essay quizzes in my other class will be done on a lap top, and immediately emailed to the professor.  I had to follow up with the Disability Office after my first set of classes to let them know how things went.  The cool thing is that this process is completely confidential between the professor, OSD, and the student!  I really don’t care because I can’t hide my disability… It’s something all survivors in college SHOULD look into!  For the first time since rehab I’ve confirmed how serious my physical impairments are!  I guess for the longest time I’ve been focusing on what I can do, not what I can’t do.  To actually see the reality of my physical impairments in writing by people that I don’t know is still a huge wake up call because this is how strangers see me.  When I first went out in my wheelchair, it used to bother me when people used to stare at me.  I could feel all the looks of curiosity and pity.  It almost made me feel ashamed to go out.  Good thing I have no shame… People that I hangout with say that this still happens when I’m in my scooter/wheelchair, but I’ve learned to simply ignore the stares.

Anyways, I’ve really noticed that academic/scientific journal writing is very different from public publishing.  While I was in college and grad school, I had been so used to reading academic articles.  My friends who helped edit my first book, had so many publishing suggestions on my first draft of Reversal:  When A Therapist Becomes A Patient.  For one of the classes I’m currently taking, I have to read a lot of psychology journals.  Typically, scientific journals are different to read with many run-on sentences.  Those run-on sentences are intended to elaborate on key concepts.  It is just another adjustment back into academics that I have to adapt.  Things will get interesting the next couple weeks with classes and exams/quizzes.  These last few weeks in San Diego are going to be BUSY before I move to Houston!  ComicCon is coming up in a couple weeks, so I’ll be sure to make time to get downtown then for the festivities!!!

 

Blog02 Jul 2017 08:01 am


Create Your Own Visited States Map


Create Your Own Visited Countries Map

Blog and public health and school29 Jun 2017 06:55 pm

It has been a while since I last blogged. There is some very exciting stuff in the works. Earlier this year I was accepted into a PhD program at University of Texas Health and Science Center in Houston School of Public Health – Health Promotion & Behavioral Science.  I’m very interested in the role of exercise/physical activity in tumor/cancer survivorship. It will be a very interesting transition back into school mode. “PT school Galvez” was a super nerd.  “Young Doctor Galvez” was always on the move.  “Post brain surgery Galvez” is a smart ass.  The next transformation will create a more focused and mature version of myself! hee hee… not sure about the second part of that statement…  The 10 years after treatment and surgery have redefined me and refocused my goals. I’m still interested in healthcare delivery, but now from a new perspective. I’m now very in tune with the issues of survivorship. I want to make a scientific contribution to “post-treatment thrivership” involving exercise/physical activity .

The return to school will bring many new challenges.  Transitioning back into the world of academia will be interesting.  I really enjoyed getting my DPT, but there were few distractions because I was very focused on school. I think Myspace and Friendster were just getting started when I was in PT school… I’m probably going to have to close a few of my social media accounts to avoid distractions! Last week I mapped out my route to UCSD for a couple classes I need to take. It takes an hour + 10 mins via bus just to get there! I have 8AM classes on Tuesday and Thursday. That means I have to LEAVE my place at 630AM! WHOA!I haven’t gotten up that early in a while!  I figure I can blog my thoughts this early cause I can do everything on my phone/ on the go.

Anyways, I had a meeting today with disability services at UCSD. This will be very interesting returning to school with a disability. This will be a good test run before moving to Houston.  I’m looking forward to the new challenges.  We will see how things go next week!  It would be cool to hear from you if you have any advice on how to deal with the issues with returning to school.  I will probably keep blogging, but close my social media accounts to avoid distractions…  Its gonna be a busy July cleaning out my place and packing my stuff up!

 

Blog and mAss Kickers news23 Sep 2016 03:36 am

2016-htkm-now-cool_ericI’m an 11 year brain tumor survivor with severe physical impairments. The last decade has been a crazy ride! I have gone from doctor of physical therapy to brain tumor patient with physical disabilities; brain tumor survivor to brain tumor advocate; and advocate to nonprofit professional! I’m not done yet… ;P

I’m planning on taking 3 “post-oncology treatment thrivers” that embody the SPIRIT of mAss Kickers Foundation to present in Cape Town, South Africa.  We will be presenting about a proactive life after a tumor/cancer diagnosis at health care education schools, to charity organizations, and to survivor groups Nov 9 -16. We believe that we need to approach these diseases with more intelligence, heart, and humor.

Please consider a donation to support our 2016 efforts to educate people in South Africa about a proactive life after a tumor/cancer diagnosis… THERE IS A STIGMA OF SHAME/GUILT/EMBARRASSMENT ASSOCIATED WITH A TUMOR/CANCER DIAGNOSIS. HELP US SHOW THE WORLD THAT SURVIVORS CAN PICK OURSELVES UP AND THRIVE AFTER A TUMOR/CANCER DIAGNOSIS!

The 4 survivors participating in this tumor/cancer “thrivership” mission are very excited to travel to an exciting new place, but we need YOUR HELP TO FUND THIS!

Please help me reach my fundraising goal! The San Diego based cancer research company, Ignyta Inc. will match donations up to $3000. This is a GREAT WAY OPPORTUNITY TO SUPPORT US!  We will definitely send you a video shout out from Cape Town!

Help us teach the WORLD how to “Kick mAss!” Pass this on!

Thanks,  Eric

Blog and housekeeping18 Jul 2016 05:49 pm

Finding a “new norm” was something I struggled with after brain surgery.  I’ll admit that I was “broken”.  I survived major brain surgery, but lost 90% of my hobbies and professional identity!  I used to think that when you meet someone new, you are defined by “what you do.”  For me, it was merely a way to categorize people in your memory.  After surgery, I couldn’t do much of anything.  I was searching for any identity other than “handicaped person”.  I lost the career in Physical Therapy that I worked so hard to establish and I lost the very thing that defined me… sports.  I remember wanting to go back to the Physical Therapy clinic where I used to work and “shadow” one of my colleagues because I was so bored!  Part of me didn’t want to let go of the career I was just starting.  I even renewed my California PT license and CSCS certification by taking online courses.

I felt like I was broken… kinda like Humpty Dumpty.  That feeling of hopelessness finally went away when I created the Tumors Suck group on Facebook.  I met so many people that felt the same way about brain tumors.  I quickly found that people felt the same way about ALL types of cancer, which led to the creation of mAss Kickers Foundation (mKF).  I eventually recreated myself by finding new hobbies and following new interests.  I decided to focus on what I could do, not what I couldn’t do. It has been fun figuring this out AND stay tuned because I’m still figuring it out!  Through mKF, we started meeting survivors from around the world!  We went to Tokyo, Japan and Manila, Philippines in 2013.  In 2014, we went to Singapore, Singapore and spoke to students at the National University Singapore.  Last year, we went to Brussels, Belgium and met with Flemish survivors then spoke at the Institute Gilles Bordeaux. This year, we are planning on going to Cape Town, South Africa in the Fall!  We are planning on meeting South African survivors, and presenting “Post-treatment Thrivership” at different venues in South Africa. We could definitely use some help with this ambitious undertaking!  With a donation of at least $20 here, we’ll send you some Tumors Suck stickers and put you in a video!   Check out this link to see the videos from the past “How to Kick mAss” Programs.  Stay tuned for updates!

Blog and rehab12 Apr 2016 05:09 pm

There is a connection… I’m starting to do research on Public Health!

Public health refers to “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals.”[1] It is concerned with threats to health based on population health analysis. The population in question can be as small as a handful of people, or as large as all the inhabitants of several continents (for instance, in the case of a pandemic).

The focus of public health intervention is to improve health and quality of life through prevention and treatment of disease and other physical and mental health conditions. This is done through surveillance of cases and health indicators, and through promotion of healthy behaviors.

Does post-treatment exercise/physical activity lead to post treatment “thrivership”?  I’ve personally seen so many examples of this in my survivor buddies!  Public education (Sesame Street), Post-treatment thrivership, exercise/physical activity, Dissemination (Usher’s musical skills) are connected… HAHAHA! Yes, I have a “unique” way of looking at things…  I’m teaming up with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults on a session at CancerCon to promote the benefits of exercise/physical activity for survivors.  Should be a great session…

 

Blog and rehab07 Feb 2016 01:31 pm

patient-enduranceI’m shifting my focus this year.  Most of the physical activity/exercise that I’ve done to this point has been based on a return to function or modifying things to adapt to my physical impairments.  One of the things that has been neglected is my fitness level.  I still ride my exercise bike and use my pull-up bar daily, but I’m noticing that I’ve been stuck in a rut.  It is now time to shake things up!  After my first few sessions at CrossFit 858 Mission Gorge,  I’ve definitely noticed that I’m not “fit.”  I’m not overweight, but my physical capacity is definitely impaired. My body has adapted to short bursts of power, but not SUSTAINED power.  Ever since I started physical rehab, the focus has been on the return of function, not general fitness.  I stopped going to formal physical rehab sessions once I accomplished my rehab goals for “modified independent functional mobility” with an assistive device .  Now I have to establish “fitness goals.”  I definitely realized that I have difficulty doing any open chain movements and I fatigue easily.  I can’t complete a full circuit without completely fatiguing my muscles.  I start out strong, but my the end of the third set, I couldn’t even complete a full movement!  This will be addressed. Functional mobility is essential to rehabilitation, but very rarely are the next steps addressed mainly because patients are left to figure this out on their own… The Challenge Center  does a great job addressing this.  They have an exercise groups for patients after they are done with rehab which are moderated by athletic trainers.  After I was done at the Challenge Center, I still wanted to address physical fitness/athletic endeavors. I’ve found that CrossFit has the potential to address the athletic intensity in me.  I have enjoyed working with Coach Mark Lin because we are challenging muscle groups that haven’t been used in a while.  He has no problem pushing me.  I was very upfront with my physical impairments and he has thought of creative ways for me to do different exercises.  I still wear my “physical therapy hat” whenever trying something new…  Things will get interesting the next few months.  I’m looking to combine tumor/cancer survivorship, physical rehab, and physical fitness (post treatment thrivership)… Let’s BUST A MOVE and get busy sweating!  Stay Tuned…

Blog and housekeeping10 Jan 2016 03:23 pm

crossfit_forging_elite_fitnessOn Saturday, I went to my first CrossFit session at KDA CrossFit in Miramar.  I wanted to find out why many of my friends were so involved in it!  The camaraderie I found there was very similar to high school sports.  I was a part of some very focused high school teams that were very successful in football, wrestling, and track.  The common denominator on those teams was that everyone was on the same page and knew how each individual’s goals related to the team’s goals.  In college, I found the same similarities in vastly different organizations: Lambda Phi Epsilon: develop a sense of unity among Asian Americans and attaining full national chapter status; Filipino American Student Association:  educate young Filipino-Americans about their roots and develop a sense of pride; 58 Greene a cappella: help establish the group on campus as a legitimate performance organization and explore our personal artistry.  In Physical Therapy school, that same camaraderie was formed very early on in our first year of the program together as future young professionals.  As a physical therapist, I experienced the same type of “professional” camaraderie in continuing education courses and conferences through the professional organization, the American Physical Therapy Association.  I’ve seen hints of this same type of camaraderie in the survivor world, however it is difficult to maintain because other priorities arise once a patient starts to feel better.  Anyways, I’ve re-shifted my focus to health/well-being based on the influences of my experiences:  athletics, ethnicity, creativity, physical rehabilitation, and post-oncology-treatment “thrivership”.  This time, I’m looking to explore the benefits of physical activity/exercise for tumor/cancer patients.  It took me a while to cope with my own physical limitations and establish new goals.  Establishing “functional goals” for ADLs or mobility is great, but for me it wasn’t enough.  My interests are now on personal fitness. At the CrossFit gym, I realized that it is very time consuming for me to move from exercise to exercise due to my mobility impairments.  It requires a lot of help setting up the equipment so perhaps “one-on-one” training is more appropriate. Many of my rehab colleagues cautioned me about overuse injuries.  The coaches do a great job assessing technique, but I can see how the focus can become on the completion of a certain exercise.  I’m liking what I’m seeing in the CrossFit community, but I’m still very cognizant of my functional rehab goal for improved mobility… I still have to check out a few more gyms vs personal training, but a new challenge is coming into focus this year…

Next Page »