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 PT shop talk21 Jul 2014 08:46 am

I found this…  Was weird because I treated many of his patients and I think one recognized me in the waiting room!  Every patient should have a list like this whenever visiting their doctor!  Make sure your concerns are addressed!  Doctors are very busy so there may not be time for small talk!  PRINT OUT 2 COPIES:  A COPY FOR YOURSELF AND A COPY FOR THE DOCTOR TO KEEP IN YOUR FILE.  MAKE SURE THE DOCTOR KNOWS YOUR CONCERNS!


I.  Current Symptoms (it’s in your chart but make sure they know!) 


All the time:  left sided facial numbness, left sided tongue numbness, loss of appetite, malaise, clumsiness can’t walk a straight line

Occasional:  Nausea and vomiting, lightheadedness (when working out), headaches (with increasing intra-abdominal pressure)


With quick movements: headaches (also when changing positions/levels), dizziness


II.  Questions

  1. What is the prognosis? I’m very concerned about the cranial nerves, with the basic body functions and the blood supply to the cerebrum, cerebellum, and brain stem.
  2. What specific procedures can be done to take this thing out?  Will the entire thing be able to be removed?  How much damage will be done to the cranial nerves/vascular tissue during the procedure?
  3. How common is this tumor?  How did it grow so big?  What was the blood supply for the tumor/what “fed it”?  How long do you think it’s been there?
  4. I’ve been having dizziness with exertion, Should I worry about the carotids or any other arteries that supply the brainstem or cerebrum.  The last 2 really bad dizzy spells I had came with running ~5-6 miles.  Are there any vascular tissues affected with the tumor location?   I also notice dizziness/lightheadedness when working out.
  5. Was the cerebellum (or vestibular nuclei in the pons) also affected? My coordination has been off for a few months.
  6. How long is the rehab?  What kind of lingering effects should I expect? Timelines?
  7. Once it is out, is there a chance for relapse?  Is there anything I can do to prevent it from happening again? What caused the tumor/where did it come from?
  8. Am I now at risk for new tumors to pop up?
  9. When can a procedure be scheduled?  I really need my parents from Michigan to be here for me.
  10. When can I return to surfing, triathlons, work?  Is there anything I should avoid post-op?
Blog and movies and rehab17 Jul 2014 09:30 am

moviesEarlier this week, a good friend from PT school called me out!  It was exactly what I needed to hear. The past few months I have been extremely busy doing MKF stuff that I’ve been neglecting my own personal rehab.  It totally put my priorities in perspective.  Somehow, he talked me into catching a movie after dinner.  I did not anticipate this because I used only my crutches going to the restaurant.  This would mean having to use the crutches to go to the theater in the mall!  I hadn’t tried this before because after prolonged sitting my legs stiffen up and walking becomes difficult.  After a few taunts, I decided to give it a shot.  This was going to be interesting because there were time constraints with walking to the theater (we had 20 minutes to catch the beginning of the movie.)  What I didn’t realize was that there were ~20 minutes of movie previews before the movie started.  I had plenty of time to use the crutches to walk to the theater in the mall, walk to the bathroom in the theater, and walk back to our seats before the movie started!  I was pleasantly surprised!

130103_Challenged-Athletes-Foundation-CAF-logoI had to test this out again.  Last night I went to a Challenged Athletes Foundation fundraiser in Ocean Beach sponsored by students in the San Diego State University Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.  I really wanted to go because:

  1. I worked with many of these students in a neuro lab last semester so I wanted to congratulate them and wish them luck entering their clinical affiliations
  2. I got to know a few of them at the Charity Kickball Tournament
  3. I wanted to meet some people from the Challenged Athletes Foundation

I decided to try attending the event with only the crutches because I was surprised at how well I maneuvered after prolonged sitting at the movies.  I took an uber car down to Ocean Beach.  I hadn’t been there in years by myself.  I do recall going to a couple bars out there when I first moved to San Diego as a young single healthcare professional.  It was a strange feeling going back there knowing that the last time I was out there the circumstances were completely different!  This event was for the students to celebrate, so I didn’t want to intrude on their celebration for too long. My old friend Rosalia is now a professor at SDSU so luckily she was able to give me a ride home early.  Hee hee hee… wow, how things change.

I’ve def got a new FIRE to push myself, but instead of just randomly trying things that I want to do, planning and preparation will be the key to success!  The 2014 Paintball Event is coming up and Comic Con is next week so some exciting stuff is coming up!  Stay tuned!

Blog and housekeeping and mAss Kickers news11 Jul 2014 11:58 am


Thanks for including me Emily and Selma!  This in an old interview!


Blog and Random blog and reviews01 Jul 2014 09:43 pm

michigan-county-mapSo much has happened since my last post! As a child, the month of June not only meant the end of school year, but also the beginning of summer and a bunch of fun activities.  Earlier this month, I went back to Michigan for one of my best friend’s 40th birthday!  We are all evolving!  A few years ago, everyone was getting married and buying houses.  Now, kids are started to pop up and priorities are changing.  It is so crazy that we are now older than our parents were when they immigrated to the United States to start a new life!  It was so cool going back home to Michigan and not having to worry about an event or a speaking engagement. I got to see many of my friends from undergrad at the birthday party.  I also got together with some of my friends from grad school for a barbecue!   I also got to meet up with some of my mentors from grad school!  It was so great catching up with everyone and taking a short break from everything..

2003-mr-olympia-92_20090831_1380869138I returned to San Diego for our Second Kickball Tournament.   This year teams included: Local PT/PTA programs, a team of survivors and their loved ones, a team of PTs, and the defending champs!  It is really turning into a fun event!  This year, we let the family members of survivors play so a bunch of little kids made some great plays playing with their parents!  Pretty cool seeing families play together!  Things went very well.  We see a lot of potential for expansion!  It was great seeing future healthcare professional interacting with the families affected by tumors/cancer.  We are making plans to recreate this event with other PT/PTA programs in different states!

2014 esperity meetingThe week after the kickball tournament, I had the opportunity meet with the Founders of the Belgium Based website, Esperity.  They are early in their development, but they share with MKF a strong interest in clinical trial recruitment.  They realize that common cancers like breast or prostate cancer get the most research funding and get the most subjects recruited for research studies because of their prevalence.  If we can combine resources globally on clinical research studies for the less prevalent tumor/cancer types, this could address the need for the recruitment of rare tumor/cancer subjects.  EVERYONE BENEFITS!  Instead of looking in one region, lets search the world for eligible research subjects.  It makes sense to me.  Collaboration is key, but people need to understand the benefits of participating in clinical research.  It was great to hear their vision and add my input!  I’m still not sure how an international “IRB” would manage this, but it is an interesting concept.  We’ll definitely have to keep an eye out of them.

lucha libre1After our meeting, I wanted to relax, so I stopped by Lucha Libre Taco Shop.  As a kid, I was really into pro-wrestling.  I am proud to say that I was going crazy at Wrestlemania 3 at the Pontiac Silverdome when Hulk Hogan slammed Andre the Giant.  When I heard about a luchador (masked pro-wrestlers) themed taco shop in San Diego I had to check it out!  Nacho Libre was one of the silliest movies I had ever seen, but it awakened my inner-child! The 11 year-old version of myself would not have been disappointed by Lucha Libre Taco Shop.  The place was covered with luchador memoriabilia and bright colors that screamed “NOTICE ME!” Of course, the food was incredible!  Their California Burrito was rated as one the top 10 in San Diego by San Diego Surfers.  The place literally had a line out the door!  The menu did not disappoint!  If I like something, I tend to order it again.  The California Burrito has been my “Go-To” order for years.  I’m just now starting to explore San Diego Mexican food outside of my first love, the California Burrito.  I will definitely have to return and try something different…

Anyways, still have a lot on my plate… gearing up for our paintball benefit in MI in August… stay tuned!

Blog02 Jun 2014 08:57 pm


The battle against myself is waged every night.  I’m noticing lately that I’m more conscious about what I’m eating and drinking.  After I found out how much sugar is in coke, pepsi, and other soft drinks I stopped drinking it!  I’m also eating healthier, but occasionally I’ll have my slip-ups when my alter ego, “Fat Eric”, is the decision maker.  I’ll always have a soft spot for fast food.  Growing up, a trip to McDonalds every Sunday for a Happy Meal was a reward for being well behaved in Church.  It was probably the toys that drew me to the Happy Meals.  In college, the easy access combined with a small budget, frequently led me to the Golden Arches.   Actually, I would pool up McDonalds Monopoly pieces with my roommates in the hopes of winning a million dollars!  My sweet tooth is my biggest guilty pleasure.  I’m definitely more aware now of what I’m consuming.  I’ve read books about the “Raw Diet” and done a lot of research online about how diet plays a large role in a healthy lifestyle.   I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to eat healthier.  I’ve been eating healthier out of convenience.   My current reasoning for eating healthier is simple:  “Salads are easy to cook.”  I’m definitely more conscious of what I’m consuming.

2003-mr-olympia-92_20090831_1380869138While I’m become more aware of the importance of nutrition, exercise/ physical activity has never been an issue for me.  However, practicing “functional” activities is tough because it gets repetitive and boring.  I have noticed that I’ve been gravitating away from the balance and gait training exercises because it not a cardiovascular activity that generates Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) or sweat.  As former physical therapist, I understand the importance of functional goal setting, but with so many accessibility resources /alternative means of accomplishing things, I think  that I have managed to adapt to my impairments.  This is great, but I’m not content with adaptation.  I want to continue to address the impairments.  I do realize the I’m at risk for disappointment if my progress has plataeu’d, but part of me still wants to believe the potential to walk or even run is still there.  I just have to return to rehabbing. Time is precious, but I do realize that things are not going magically improve by them unless they are addressed.  Good intensions mean nothing unless an action plan is executed.  There is so much I want to accomplish, I just wish I had the energy to do what I want!

Blog and Random blog26 May 2014 04:54 pm


Memorial Day Weekend used to have a completely different purpose/meaning for me.  In college, I used to go to my fraternity’s national convention Memorial weekend.  Of course we met to discuss issues of expansion and business, but it was also like a “mini Spring Break.”  The convention always coincided with a sorority’s national convention so there were no shortages of mixers and social events that weekend!  After college, my friends kept the tradition of meeting up Memorial Day weekend alive.  We use to make a concerted effort to meet up and stay in touch.  Many of my friends decided to get married Memorial Weekend thus keeping the Memorial Weekend tradition alive.  We have so many crazy stories from those weekends!  Now that many of my friends are now starting families and becoming respected professionals, the time for reunions/get together are becoming rare.   I’ve also started to appreciate the true meaning of Memorial day: Honor the men and women who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy in this country!  Being in San Diego with so many military personnel has made me appreciate the job that they do to defend our way of life.  To actually meet people, in the Military is very humbling.  Sacrificing time away from their family and dedicating their life for a cause larger than themselves is something I truly admire.  When I was younger, I didn’t appreciate the sacrifices these people make to serve their country.  I’ve gotten to meet so many members of the Military and I’ve grown to respect all of them.  Many of my own personal beliefs are very similar to their values.  I have so much respect for their code!   Let’s not forget the reason WHY we have this holiday!  Thank you to all that serve or who have served!


Blog and housekeeping and mAss Kickers news19 May 2014 01:35 pm

concorde logo

This past week, I had the opportunity to speak at the Physical Therapy Assistant program at Concorde College in San Diego.  I have been doing a lot with Healthcare Education programs recently.  Last month I did a google hangout with a Physical Therapy Class at The University of New England.   I really enjoy speaking to students because I feel like there is so much potential in them to do something great!  I have had great mentors growing up and transitioning to the next phases of my life.  In high school, it was my sports coaches. In college, it was the student organization faculty advisors and my older friends. In grad school, it was the faculty and my clinical instructors.  As a young professional, I was assigned a mentor in the clinic.  In the nonprofit sector for the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many individuals who offer me priceless advice.  I’ve realized that no one person accomplishes things completely alone.  Everyone needs guidance.  This is probably why I’m so drawn to educating people about how to “thrive” after a tumor/cancer diagnosis!  I’m realizing that I’m really going to have to leap out of my comfort zone to truly raise awareness for “post treatment thrivership” to go beyond “survivorship.”  To me, being a “survivor” is something every individual diagnosed with a tumor/cancer looks to become.  Weathering the emotional and physical storm of a tumor or cancer diagnosis and becoming a “survivor” is a very great accomplishment, but that experience can ignite a fire in an individual to advocate against these diseases through research, psychosocial support, patient advocacy, patient education, political lobbying, etc.  The next step after becoming a survivor is becoming a “thriver.”  To become a “thriver”, a “survivor” begins to stand up against against these diseases and actively promotes the fight to conquer these diseases.  Becoming an advocate for post-treatment “thrivership” is no easy task.   It takes the right attitude and the genuine ability to promote the fight against tumors/cancer based on personal experience.


This weekend, I stepped out of my comfort zone again. I went to my first charity fashion show to see if a similar event would be appropriate for mAss Kickers Foundation.  It was a very interesting event.  Fashion is something I know very little about.  I was hoping to meet people from the beneficiary, International Children’s Cancer Foundation. They were hard to identify.  I really appreciated all the hard work by Ella PR that went into creating this unique charity event. I was very impressed with the number of sponsors, the turnout, and the accessibility of the venue.  I honestly had no idea what to expect!  Everyone was friendly and very accommodating to the “stranger in the mobility scooter.”  I only stayed for the actual show, so I didn’t get the chance to “mingle” as much as I would have liked.  I did meet some cool people there.  I’m learning that if you don’t have the guts to start conversations with complete strangers, you will never get out of your social network.  I’m finding that everyone I meet is amused by the name “mAss Kickers.”  People chuckle when I tell them about the name and why we think life after a tumor/cancer diagnosis needs a different approach!  The logo was designed to be a subtle way to promote a proactive lifestyle.  I still feel very lucky to be able to do everything that I’m doing now!  The past few years has been filed with “experiments” and “tests.”  I’m starting to figure things out!   Just getting downtown at night by myself was fun.  I’m faced with numerous physical challenges, but I’ve learned that you need to adapt or get left behind.  I appreciate the help from all my friends and family in supporting all the crazy ideas that pop in my head!  I’m really starting to get busy with things I never dreamed I would do!  I’ve leapt way outside of my comfort zone.  I am still surprised at some of the things I’ve already accomplished!  I’ll admit meeting new people who share the same passion about fighting these diseases is pretty cool!  New ideas are starting to solidify.  I’m very thankful for everyone that has supported me in the past!  There is still a lot of work to be done.  I’ll make you proud.  Stay tuned… more fun stuff is in the works!

Blog and reviews08 May 2014 10:41 am


The past few days, I tried something new.  I’ve considered myself a “patient advocate” for quite sometime time.   My purpose in pursuing a career in physical therapy was deeply rooted in the belief that I just wanted to help people.  I attribute that to all my experiences in community service growing up.  We were sometimes forced to do it, but I always had fun doing it!  Early on in Cub scouts, later through Team Sports Service projects, and later through college volunteerism I found that being active in philanthropy/ service projects satisfies an intangible need that can fill an empty space in your soul.  Although faced with numerous physical obstacles, the fire to contribute to the community has not only gotten stronger but has become more focused.  Surprisingly, this fire has been spreading to other individuals.  The past few years, I have been meeting more people with similar beliefs/values about tumors/cancer.  I honestly think that something big is brewing.  I don’t know what it is exactly yet, but the seeds are being planted for something potentially BIG!.  On Sunday, I had the opportunity to go to Washington DC to advocate with the National Brain Tumor Society to congress about 3 pressing issues in Brain Tumor Advocacy:

  1. Seek support/ thank them for supporting federally mandated Oral Chemotherapies Drug Coverage by insurance for drugs like Temodar. Support Cancer Drug Pairty Act (H.R. 1801)
  2. Seek support/ thank them for supporting the collection of bio-specimens in pediatric cancer patients through The Carolyn Pryce-Walker Conquer Conquer Childhood Cancer Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1553).  This would lead to more research
  3. Support NIH Funding for future research. Increase National Institute of Health to $32 Billion. NCI, National Cancer Institute funding to $5.26 Billion to fund tumor/cancer related research.

We got to meet with California Senators and California House Representatives.  I wanted to sit back and observe how they did things the first couple meetings.  It was the first time formally advocating for something.  We got to meet with Legislative Assistants, a Legislative Director, and a Healthcare fellow from the offices of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), Rep. Mark Takano (D), Rep. Susan Davis (D), and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R).  I was comfortable talking about statistics because I didn’t feel strong enough in my knowledge of the bills.  Each meeting was only 15-20 minutes, so the “pitch” had to be structured and rehearsed.  I realized how formal the attire was at the meetings. Definitely not the laid-back attire I’ve grown accustomed to in San Diego.

Since I started down the advocacy road, I have been focused on providing resources for patients and healthcare professionals.  I’m starting to realize the importance of educating public officials about these issues.   Advocacy is not only educating healthcare professionals and patients/loved ones, but also education of public officials so they can become powerful advocates for your cause.  It is extremely important to find powerful supporters!  I’ve been averse to politics because of all the “negative smear campaigns”.  Don’t tell me why your opponent sucks!  Tell me why I should support you!

Anyways, it was so cool meeting and hanging out with so many of my online brain tumor friends!  I really got to give props to my friend Liz for encouraging me to attend the event in DC.  She introduced me to the world of public policy.  I was so excited to hangout with Monika, David, BethAnn, Jim, Ashley, Raechal, Sarah, Patti, Ron, and Pati U. I do realize that it is essential to “tread lightly” when it comes to the nonprofit sector’s interaction with politicians.  I’m very cautious of that.  I look forward to returning to DC to do more brain tumor advocacy!  Perhaps I will return as a disability advocate to address legislative disability issues.

For now, I rest.  I have a few more things up my sleeve… hee hee hee… STAY TUNED…

Blog and reviews01 May 2014 06:04 am


This past weekend I went to my third OMG Cancer Summit for young adult survivors.  I always come back from this conference physically exhausted, but emotionally recharged.  We decided not to table this year in order to enjoy the conference and network on a more personal level with the attendees!  I love going to this event because it is a great feeling finding people who have gone through similar experiences and understand the nuances of why you have to do things… As an 8-year young brain tumor survivor turned brain tumor thriver, I still remember how isolating it was after treatment.  Meeting and hanging out with people who understand your impairments felt like finding a long lost brother or sister separated at birth!  I will never forget that feeling.  On Saturday, I attended a session on Genomics and Forging Partnerships with Cancer Centers.  On Sunday, I attended the “First Steps to Fitness” Session and a Risk Management session.  This past year I was so happy to see more brain tumor specific sessions.  Unfortunately, I came in a day late and missed 2 of my brain tumor buddies, Ashley and Catherine speaking on the brain tumor panel.  I’m so happy to see brain tumor issues being represented at a “cancer conference”.  We’ve come a long way!

Don’t get me wrong going to Vegas wasn’t all business. There were a lot of fun events planned as well! Friday night, we saw a screening of a number of extreme sports short films presented by First Descents then hung out at the Ghostbar in the hotel.  For me, I’ve learned that IT’S ALL ABOUT PACING YOURSELF AT THESE CONFERENCES!  Saturday night, a group of 11 survivors from California went to see the Jabbawookeez show, Prism, at the Luxor.  mAss Kickers Foundation was able to secure complimentary tickets for the small group!  It was really cool seeing the Jabbawookies live.  I’ve been following them since their days on MTV’s ABDC, America’s Best Dance Crew.  I always notice when Filipinos do some thing big.  PLUS they are from San Diego… HAHAHA!  After the show, we took some pictures and grabbed a bite to eat at the Luxor.  It was so cool getting to know everyone there!  After a pretty eventful day, we decided to just hangout at the hotel while everyone else partied the night away!  Totally fine by me because I got to know the NorCal guys pretty well.  You really get to know people when there isn’t loud music or an artificial aura of trying to impress someone.  Chill and shooting the breeze… more my style then the club scene lately.

Anyways, on Sat, I am taking my first trip to Washington DC to speak to our congressmen/senators about brain tumor advocacy!  Should be interesting.  Stay tuned.

Blog and mAss Kickers news18 Apr 2014 05:03 pm


Last week I had the opportunity to speak at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Indiana University – Purdue University in Indianapolis.  I got to reconnect with the former Dean at the School of Health Professions and Studies at the University of Michigan – Flint .  He was instrumental in getting me to speak at IUPUI.  10 years ago, when I was a student at the Physical Therapy School at the University of Michigan – Flint, Dean Austin Agho was very involved with students so I had numerous opportunities to meet with him and the faculty as a student.  We’ve kept in touch since I graduated.  I was very happy to see that he is still involved with the students at IUPUI!  I also got to meet Dr.Christina Mushi-Brunt who heads the Diversity Committee at IUPUI.

As an undergrad at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, I was very involved in the Asian American and Filipino American Student organizations.  Growing up I always felt like an outsider, but in college I felt like I finally fit in somewhere!   When I started my recovery from brain surgery, those same feelings of isolation resurfaced.  I didn’t technically have “cancer”, so technically I wasn’t a “cancer survivor.”  I never quite fit in, but this time around I would not be passive and stay quiet.  I couldn’t go anywhere without someone coming to pick me up!  I became the awkward junior high kid who would entertain himself.  I figured out that I could connect with people similar to me online! I tried to get involved with cancer organizations, but still felt like an outsider looking in because I was “not technically a cancer survivor.”  Many organizations welcomed me with open arms, but I still felt different because my impairments made me stick out  I’ve learned to embrace my differences by taking ownership of of them.  I’m not the guy in the mobility scooter.  I’m the owner of the “mAss Kicker Mobile.”  Fortunately, over the years, I have been able to find brain tumor survivors similar to me!  I have also found survivors that felt the same way about living a PROACTIVE life post tumor/cancer treatment fighting these diseases.  We’ve created a “small town” community of post treatment thrivers.  This attitude has translated well into my professional pursuits.  I’ve been doing a lot of speaking at health profession schools and hospitals sharing my experiences.  Internationally, MKF is planning on taking survivors out to educate healthcare professionals and patients about life after a devastating tumor/cancer diagnosis.  We have some pretty cool stuff in the works!  STAY TUNED!

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