23 Aug 2011 03:59 pm

Every story has multiple perspectives.  I asked a few friends to share their perspectives on my journey to “thrivership.”  I also asked a few survivor friends to share their own perspectives on their surviorship because I felt like they had unique stories to tell.  We shared our writings with each other like “the Borg – Collective” from Star Trek. (Yes, I am a science fiction nerd!)  Everyone had a hand in the completion of this project.  The whole reason I asked them to be a part of the “Collective” is because not only could they provide a unique perspective on my “situation”, but I also wanted to illustrate that people can be successful addressing negative situations differently.  They each played an important role in my personal recovery.  I also asked a few of my survivor friends to share their unique stories to illustrate that these situations can happen to ANYONE!  These are the people I selected for the Awakening Collective.

Reno Ursal is one of my closest friends from college.  He was the first of my friends to move out of Michigan, get married, and become a father.  He is still arguably one of the biggest goofballs I know, but somehow he is still able to maintain his professionalism.
Lyman Ng was one of my closest friends when I lived in San Diego.  We share common midwest roots, and undeniable passion for Michigan Sports.  The past few years he has gotten married, started a family, and has moved multiple times!
Anang Chokshi is one of my closest friends from physical therapy school at the University of Michigan – Flint.  He has been there for me since the beginning of my brain tumor journey!  He and his family moved to San Diego, just as I was moving to Houston. He still has no problem calling me out to make sure I’m keeping up with my personal rehab!
Jodi Masumoto is one of my friends and was a physical therapy co-worker before my brain surgery. She has provided the voice of reason, support, and additional Physical Therapy expertise on many of the crazy activities I plan such as surfing and walking 5Ks.
Laura Nelson was my vision occupational therapist, but quickly became a trusted friend.  She gave me a lot of good advise in terms of maneuvering the streets of San Diego.  She introduced the idea of a mobility scooter (AKA “mAss Kicker Mobile”) and public transportation to me.
Courtney Scott is a fellow brain tumor survivor.  She works as an Occupational Therapist in Texas.  I met her and her husband years ago at a brain tumor conference where she volunteered at a mAss Kickers booth.  I asked her to share her story because we have many similarities.
Jaime Kramer is also a healthcare provider (Speech Language Pathologist) turned brain tumor patient.  I met her, her husband Karl, and sister Deana at a lecture I did at New York University in 2010.  I asked her to share her story as well because I think that we (heath providers turned patients) can offer a unique perspective on survivorship.
Zachary York is the first young male brain tumor survivor I’ve met in San Diego.  He was diagnosed and treated for a brain tumor when he was 12 years old!  He is always messing with me, but amazes me with how well he is able to maneuver the city with his physical impairments.  I asked him to share his story.
Kate Villatuya is yet another healthcare provider turned brain tumor patient.  When I moved to Houston in 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit.  Kate and her husband were quick to offer assistance since I was new to the area and all my stuff still hadn’t arrived.  They have become great friends!  I asked her to share her story as another young Filipino-American Healthcare professional turned brain tumor thriver.
Nam Nguyen is an old friend from college.  She was one of my biggest supporters when I was first diagnosed with a meningioma brain tumor.  She even volunteered at the 1st mAss Kickers Foundation table at a MD Anderson conference in 2011.  Years later she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I reconnected with her and her family when I relocated to Houston. I asked her to share her unique journey from cancer researcher to high school teacher to breast cancer thriver.
Selma Schmmiel was a friend from LA who invited me to be on her international radio show in 2008, the Group Room.  She planted the seeds of international thrivership in the “How to Kick mAss” program.  She has become a great mentor and one of my biggest supporters.  I was honored when she agreed to write the forward for Awakening:  Becoming A Brain Tumor Thriver.  Sadly, she passed on May 21, 2014 after a lengthy journey with breast cancer full of accolades.

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