Team TUMORS SUCK! at the National brain Tumor Society, San Diego Brain Tumor Walk
5 years ago on Friday a phone call from my doctor changed my life forever. I had been having episodes of dizziness, headaches, nausea, and then facial numbness (I was frequently biting my tongue and cheek.) I knew something was up, but I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on. My symptoms were consistent with an inner ear infection. These things are common in swimmers and surfers (my new hobbies.) My doctor ordered a MRI the day before and I was thinking it was only a precautionary thing. After the MRI, I remember thinking “This might be serious. Something is not right.” The following morning, I got a message on my answering machine to call the doc on his cell phone immediately. “hmmm… that’s strange.” I made myself a sandwich then called him back. Then he dropped a ton of bricks on me. “We found a large tumor mass in your head between the cerebellum and brain stem. We’re pretty sure it’s either an acoustic neuroma or a meningioma.” Honestly, my first reaction was “Oh, that makes sense. Cerebellum and brain stem. It explains the symptoms.” I call doctors all the time at work. Seconds later, it occurred to me that we weren’t talking about a patient of ours. We were talking about me! Cerebellum and brain stem! Whoa! I don’t remember much of the rest of the conversation. I do remember suffocating on air as I wrote down the phone number of the neurosurgeon I needed to consult. I was so confused about how this could have happened to me. I was finally finished with school, I was in an exciting new city, and could FINALLY start my life. I was scared because I didn’t know what type of tumor it was and I didn’t know how much time I had left to live. The only time people hear about brain tumors is when someone famous gets one, someone famous dies of one, or when something is thought to cause them. I was living by myself in a new city, so I didn’t know where to turn for support. I called my parents 2000 miles away to break them the shocking news. I always turned to them when I was scared. I haven’t been scared about anything since I was a kid, but I figured they would have the answers! After I got off the phone with my parents, I hopped online to search for info on acoustic neuromas and meningiomas. I did find a lot of general information out there, but nothing specifically geared towards someone just diagnosed. There were a few online support groups, but I didn’t want to ask complete strangers for support. I wanted to find stories written by people who have walked the path. I wanted to know what the treatments were like. I wanted to know where to find the best resources from something other than an automated response from online search engines. I promised myself that I would only let myself freakout that night. It would all be “business” from then on out. Sounds really brave, but it was the mindset I needed to keep my head clear. Anyone who isn’t concerned about their life in these situations is either extremely naive or in denial. Bravery is not something people are born with. Pure bravery is the product of an epic challenge. Anyways, this was the reason I created mAss Kickers Foundation. That state of limbo between an intimidating diagnosis and a solid medical decision is the worst state of mind imaginable. A new intimidating brain tumor or cancer diagnosis brings up horrible feelings of confusion and fear. mAss Kickers Foundation addresses those feelings though articles, links, and interviews with people who have walked the same path and are fighting back in their own way. mAss Kicker Foundation wants to supply resources to a person’s “mAss Kicking Arsenal” in this epic battle. This past weekend, I celebrated my 5-year “tumorversary” by walking a Charity 5K with 3 other young adult brain tumor survivors! On this day: 5 years later, I was surrounded by family and friends. I could not think of a better way to celebrate 5 years of life since being diagnosed with a difficult brain tumor!