March 2014

Blog and housekeeping and mAss Kickers news and Random blog30 Mar 2014 05:55 am

I HATE stereotypes and preconceived notions. Everyday, I have to deal with these things as both a brain tumor survivor and a person with physical impairments. I thought my professional background as a Doctor of Physical Therapy would prepare me for this, but I still found things very frustrating.  I’ve experienced first hand that there is still a stigma associated with people with disabilities. Early in my recovery, I was confined to a wheel chair and had to rely on people pushing me around if I wanted to go ANYWHERE. It used to drive me CRAZY when I was in my wheelchair and people assumed that I couldn’t understand them.  People would talk directly to whom ever was pushing my wheelchair, completely ignoring me sitting right in front of them!  I became a “second-class person.”   As a “free spirit” and social creature, that drove me nuts!  I was also reduced to an “elementary school kid” since I couldn’t go anywhere unless somebody was willing to take me.  I felt like I was in an adult sized “stroller” whenever I was in the wheelchair.   I realized that once a patient in outpatient rehab goes home after their physical therapy appointment… those impairments are STILL THERE and go home with the patient as well!  It was easy ending the day as a physical therapist.  I would finish up my paperwork and leave my “work mindset” at work.  Taking my post-surgery impairments home with me from a physical therapy appointment, made me realize that rehab is a full time gig.  I couldn’t leave things on my desk to address later.  As a physical therapist, we teach independence/ modified independence for rehab patients.  To experience it first hand has definitely been an eye opening journey. 

It gets frustrating at times not being able to do the things that I used to enjoy doing.  All of my hobbies(surfing/racing) and my career as a doctor of physical therapy were taken aways from me after brain surgery.  A large part of the old me was gone.  I was left with the dilemma, “What do I do now?”   I’ve learned how to adapt to my impairments. My mind /cognition still functions as it always has, but I still get a lot of curious stares from people because I now use a mobility scooter AKA the “mAss Kicker Mobile” to get around.  I’ve learned to ignore those stares, but occasionally I still notice them.  I hope that someday people can look past the scooter and crutches I use for mobility and see the individual WITH those assistive devices.  Those things are now a part of my life, but they don’t define me.  They are hard to ignore, but they are only a part of who I am NOW!  Granted, my goals in life have changed but I’m on a new path is starting to emerge where I can still use my education/experiences to teach others about a living life after a devastating diagnosis.  I’m having A LOT OF FUN discovering new hobbies and interests, but part of me misses the activities that I used to enjoy.

My personal experiences have led me on an exciting new journey around the world! I’ve traveled all over the United States talking about my experiences on both sides of rehabilitation.  Recently, I’ve taken the message of  “post-treatment thrivership” international.  Last year mAss Kickers Foundation, the organization I started, took a group of cancer survivors to the University of Hawaii, Manoa and Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines to speak to college students about life after a tumor/cancer diagnosis.  We also went to Tokyo and met with fellow survivors in Japan.  We’re trying to set up more international talks to spread our message of “post treatment thrivership.”  A strong global community needs to be created to efficiently fight these diseases.  A strategy is starting to form… We’ve started a “How To Kick Mass” educational program for: Healthcare students, healthcare professionals, and for cancer survivors.  The world needs to know and see that there is life after a tumor/cancer diagnosis.  I think that young adult “thrivers” (proactive survivors) are the perfect messengers for this… “All I Ever Wanted to Do” was help people.  It is the reason that I initially chose a career in physical therapy. In the past 8 years I’ve used my physical therapy background to adapt and discover new skills I can use to HELP PEOPLE!  The next few years should be exciting!  Please check out mAss Kickers Foundation a consider a donation to support the further growth of the organization and our programs.  STAY TUNED!  I COULD ALWAYS USE HELP WITH THE NEXT BIG STEP!

Blog and housekeeping and reviews23 Mar 2014 05:35 pm

This past week, I took the first class for my fundraising certificate from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University -Purdue University, Indianapolis.  The class was held at the San Diego Foundation, where we had our first official office cubicle.  We moved to 3rd Space earlier this year because the SD Foundation was too big of a jump for MKF as a startup organization.  Part 1/4 of the class was Tuesday-Friday from 830AM-5PM.  I was curious to see how I would hold up in a “full work day.”  I found out that my post-treatment fatigue in the afternoon is still a HUGE limiting factor.  I caffeinated myself up every afternoon, but I would physically crash from exhaustion when ever I got home!  Probably, not too healthy doing that.  I’ve found that I’m most productive in the morning, because that is when I have the most focus/energy.  In the afternoons, I feel like I’m just going through the motions.  I’m not sure if I’m retaining anything unless I write it down.  This is usually alleviated if I take my “afternoon siesta” to recharge my brain!  I’m good to go the rest of the afternoon/early evening after a good siesta!

Anyways, I picked up a lot of great information in that class!  The Fundraising School at IUPUI is a series of four classes (Principles and Techniques of Fundraising, Interpersonal Communication, Planned Gifts, and Developing Major Gifts) spread out every few months till October.  I then get an official Certificate in Fundraising Management!  The class was represented by an interesting mix of well-established organizations with huge budgets to young organizations like mAss Kickers Foundation.  I made a lot of great local connections there!  It was nice interacting with people outside of the tumor/cancer world and get new perspectives on things!  A lot of education nonprofits were there. I really enjoyed the networking aspect of the class. It was also great to interact with the Special Olympics and the physical disability organizations!  I very easily could have gotten involved with them, had I not gotten involved with brain tumor advocacy/ young adult cancer advocacy.  My experiences as a physical therapist definitely gives my a unique perspective in the advocacy world!  I see the potential for many future collaborations coming out of this class!  Ironically, the Department of Health Sciences at IUPUI is flying me out to Indianapolis next month to speak to their healthcare students about my experiences as a young physical therapist turned young neuro-rehab patient.  I’m finding that I really enjoy presenting to students because there is so much potential in students to make substantial changes in healthcare.  I will try to connect with the non-profit management school while I’m in Indianapolis at IUPUI!

There are a few more things in the works!  Stay tuned…

Blog and Random blog15 Mar 2014 09:44 am

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching lately.  Not because anything was wrong.  I’ve have just felt like something has been missing.  One of things that I’ve started doing is exploring my spirituality.  I feel very fortunate to be able to do all the things I’m able to do.  I figured out how to get around (mAss Kicker Mobile/ public transportation), how to fill my days (mAss Kickers Foundation), but most importantly I found new hobbies/activities (reading, writing, making videos) that I can appreciate.  I do realize that things could have been A LOT more difficult based on the location and size of my brain tumor!  I’ve been going back to catholic church for mass since the beginning of the year.  I was finding that for years I’d go to mass and go through the motions for 50 minutes without understanding the reasons.  Recently, I’ve taken a different approach finding the connections between the readings.  It made things a lot more interesting for me trying to figure out the connections between the first reading, Second reading, and the Gospel.  I will not categorize myself as a religious zealot or a robotic scientist.  However, I do realize that there needs to be a balance between science and faith.  You can’t reason faith.  Faith is not tangible or even quantifiable.  Either you have faith or you don’t.  On the other hand, you will have a hard time disproving traditional scientific laws.  I think my attitude falls safely between “religious zealot” and “scientific robot.”  I’ve had many informal conversations with friends discussing this.  Each side in the argument of religion vs science has no definitively correct answer.  I’m neutral.  I can accept the fact that the beliefs in each faction are extremely different, but I like to take pieces from both perspectives.  I see the value in both.  My mind sees the value in science, yet my heart cannot ignore the benefits of faith.  After going through so much the past few years in my personal rehabilitation/recovery, I have realized that along with my scientific/healthcare background…FAITH has help me accomplish much.  Nobody told me a definitive prognosis after major surgery and months/years of rehabilitation.  I had to turn to my faith (for many it is divinity or God) that I will get back on my feet (literally).  In my case, it was Catholicism.   It is not my place to say one religion is better than the other.  As long as “FAITH in something” is present, the soul should have some sort of  guidance ultimately leading to a common moral order. Holy wars that have been fought for generations have always focused on the differences in beliefs.  Why not focus on the similarities in those beliefs?  Are the beliefs really that extreme?  I’m looking forward to exploring other faiths.  If only there was more time in the day…

Blog and movies and Random blog and reviews02 Mar 2014 11:06 pm

Movies are a great escape from everyday life.  It is easier for me to get lost in a good movie vs a good TV series because I don’t have the patience to wait every week for each cliff hanger.  I like reading books, but it takes me awhile to feel engaged in a good book.  Movies are convenient little vacations for my imagination.  I only have to invest a couple of hours into a good movie story vs days or weeks with a good television show or book. I’m a slow reader because I like to absorb every detail in every word/sentence a writer creates.  I really started watching movies with my brother over the summer breaks on VHS.  Before we really got involved with sports, we used to watch a lot of movies… The Rocky movies, the original Star Wars Trilogy, Top Gun, the original Karate Kid, and corny comedies like Top Secret were played everyday.  Movies tend to hold my attention because the good ones always have awesome soundtracks that enhance the story.  That lead to the creation of the Reversal Blook Soundtrack and the Awakening Blook Soundtrack.  I’ve found that early on movies were a great means of entertainment!  Luckily, I currently live really close to three movie theaters!  This week I went to the Ultra Star theaters twice on work nights to see The LEGO movie and a Kung-Fu movie through the Pacific Arts Movement, Journey to the West.

The LEGO movie appears on the surface to be a kid movie, but there were plenty of witty jokes and references that adults would actually appreciate.  There were many references to common everyday items given diabolical names with the emphasis on the wrong syllable to make them sound like elaborate evil villain weapons.  Pretty creative.  I met up with a San Diego movie club for the first time.  They go pretty much every week to catch the latest shows at “cheap movie night”.  Luckily it is only 2 trolley stations away, so I think I will be going there more frequently.

2 days later, I went back to Ultra Star Theater and saw Journey to The West, which was a featured movie of the Pacific Arts Movement.  The theater was packed!  There is definitely a community of Asian Film fans in San Diego.  I’m definitely going to be exploring the San Diego movie scene more frequently!   I’ll admit that I’ve always been a big fan of animation, science fiction, and fantasy.  If I wasn’t into sports growing up, I probably would have been considered a nerd. As a kid, my family really encouraged me to like science so I never really got to explore my creative side.  Sports was a huge part of my adolescence.  Naturally, physical therapy, a profession that combined “the science of healing and the art of caring”, was the perfect profession for me. I always liked creating stuff, so when my career was impeded by my physical disabilities, my creative side came to the forefront.  In hindsight, I was drawn to the profession of physical therapy because I could be creative in how we addressed the impairments in patients.  After assessing each patient’s impairments the physical therapists help patients create plans of care/goals to address those impairments. That was always the fun part of physical therapy for me… co-creating the plan of care with patients and working together to meet those goals!

Anyways, I watched the Academy Awards tonight so I’ll def have to catch 12 Years A Slave and Dallas Buyer’s Club.  Movies are becoming a new hobby.  I wonder how you get involved in the production of them…