Blog and housekeeping28 Aug 2019 10:09 am

I just “pressed the reset button”.  I had to take a little break from the oncology world, but I’m ready to jump back in the survivor advocacy game. This time around, I’m armed with the bitter taste of loss in my mouth. For the past 10 years, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting incredible post-treatment thrivers from around the world. Unfortunately, I have also experienced losing so many close friends to tumors/cancer.  That is why I had to take a break and try something new.  It pissed me off. I tried going back to grad school to approach the issue of post treatment thrivership from an academic angle.  I discovered that my post treatment impairments (and age) put me at a HUGE disadvantage in an academic setting with so many gifted colleagues in the program.  I thought I stuck out before, but now I felt like I was sticking out out for the wrong reasons.  I am not the same student I was in physical therapy school.  Somewhere along the line I became academically cynical. I didn’t enjoy the classes, I questioned why we had to do things, I had very little in common with my classmates, and then I became the guy in the scooter who needed help taking notes/needed extra time to take tests & quizes/ the guy you didn’t want to do group projects with.  I started feeling like a burden. My classmates on group projects didn’t trust whatever input I had. Sadly my disabilities are hard to hide. Going back to school was a challenge I needed to try because I was getting too comfortable where I was. It definitely opened my eyes to the plight of students with disabilities. I realized that many young brain tumor survivors probably deal with similar issues… making it difficult to attain higher education. It pissed me off. I’ve never felt so helpless to things out of my control, BUT I now have a greater understanding of the issues many survivors face in returning to school. Helping survivors figure out how to adapt to their impairments and become thrivers is something I can still do. Oncology thrivership has always been at the heart of mAss Kickers Foundation.  We want to empower ALL survivors and see them become leaders and powerful advocates for other survivors. 

mAss Kickers Foundation is already planning on going back to tabling at conferences and doing more presentations.  I have also realized that all survivors have a unique story that needs to be told. Our stories can benefit someone facing the same diagnosis or the challenges that come with that diagnosis. I’ve found that healthcare professional students are very receptive to hearing stories from people close in age to them. These stories resonate with students because they are typically identify with lecturers in the same social/life stages.

I’ve been in Houston for 2 years and I’m finally meeting other survivors! I didn’t realize how alone I felt without connecting to others with similar experiences.  Honestly, I was so preoccupied with academics that I ignored the fact that I was pulling away from people. Perhaps everyone feels like this at some point in higher education. I have more time now, so perhaps I’ll start blogging more frequently.