Search Results for 'meningioma'


How To Kick Mass and mAss Kickers news16 Dec 2019 11:01 am
2019 How To Kick Mass Thrivership Mission, Ottawa: Bryan, Eric, Dennis

Visiting Canada has always been a fun escape for me. Growing up in Michigan, we would visit Toronto often to visit family in the summer. Occasionally, they would leave my brother and I there with our family for weeks on end. It was always fun hanging out with our Canadian cousins! I assume that this was done to give our parents a break and free daycare. Of course our Canadian cousins would conversely spend time in Michigan to give our uncles and aunts breaks. I remember anxiously waiting by our window for our cousins to pull into our driveway! At the end of October, I returned to Canada with 2 other Brain Tumor survivors. mAss Kickers Foundation has been all over the world. See some of the places we’ve been, below! It’s always fun connecting oncology survivors from different backgrounds! We were in Toronto last year and had a great time. This year we went to the Capitol of Canada, Ottawa. This time around, there were three brain tumor survivors on this trip. 1) Bryan, a long term pediatric brain tumor survivor, went on our previous trip to Toronto. 2) Dennis is a more recent brain tumor survivor, with almost the exact same brain tumor type/location: Meningioma at Cerebello-pontine angle (CPA)… just a decade later than 3) me, a 14 year CPA meningioma survivor . Dennis is just starting to get involved in brain tumor advocacy, so I was very excited to meet him! None of us had been to Ottawa, so this would be a new adventure for all of us in an unfamiliar environment.

    The objectives of this trip were to:
  1. Learn about the unique intricacies of navigating healthcare in Canada.
  2. Present our individual survivorship stories to survivor support groups.
  3. Learn more about the history/culture/attractions of Ottawa.
  4. Connect with oncology treatment survivors in Ottawa.
  5. Support unified international oncology research.
  6. Give post treatment oncology thrivers a unique travel adventure to help them FIND THEMSELVES and CONNECT WITH PEOPLE who have endured similar journeys.

The weather definitely added a sense of adventure and uncertainty! Flights were delayed, layovers were missed, and it was colder than I expected. I have never enjoyed cold temperature (probably due to my Filipino blood), but I’m always willing to brave the elements for a unique experience. We tried to familiarize ourselves with the area the first day and patiently waited for the rest of the group to arrive. We ordered food the first day and hung out at our Air B&B the first night. We tried to plan out activities the second day by catching a hop on/hop off bus, but the company was closed for the season. We decided to just take a Lyft to Byward market to have breakfast and explore the area on foot. We ended up touring the Canadian Senate and going grocery shopping. Grocery shopping in different countries is always so interesting. It is always fun to see the different items in the stores. Later that evening, we did a presentation at the Ottawa Regional Cancer Center for the monthly brain tumour support group. Check out the pictures from the 2019 How To Kick Mass (HTKM), Ottawa trip Day 1 and 2.

The next day, we slept in a little and visited the National Gallery of Canada. I never really appreciated art until we visited the museums in Brussels. I learned about the geographic lines/shapes of Art Deco in Brussels. In Brussels, we actually went home/museum of Art Nouveau which got me thinking for the first time about art… I was always a big fan of natural history museums, but I now have a new found appreciation of art. I still don’t get modern/contemporary art, but renaissance sculptures and black and white photography are starting to grow on me. Check out the pictures from the 2019 HTKM, Ottawa trip Day 3

The following day, we went to the Royal Canadian Mint where they make the $1 coins (looney), $2 coins (tooney), and commemorative coins. We decided to check it out because who doesn’t find money interesting. Afterwards we did more exploration and found a Canadian pub to have lunch and Canadian beer. Dennis wanted to check out a spa after lunch, so he went on his own adventure while Bryan and I went grocery shopping for the rest of the week. Check out the pictures from Day 4.

We had the opportunity to attend a Canadian Cancer patient conference at the Shaw Centre, which is connected to the Shaw Centre shopping mall. We connected with many Canadian oncology survivor organizations. It was pretty cool learning about health issues in a different country! We grabbed a quick lunch at the mall and decided to check out the Ottawa Dia de Los Muertos celebration afterwards. I attended my first Dia de Los Muertos celebration in Houston last year. The event stuck with me because it is meant to honor loved ones that have passed on. I have befriended so many inspirational oncology patients that have passed, and it was starting to take it’s toll on me. My first exposure to Dia de Los Muertos in Houston finally gave me closure and a chance to symbolically “say goodbye”. The event is a celebration and FAR FROM scary or somber. Will definitely try to hit it up again wherever I am. Check out the pictures from Day 5

The final day that we were all together was a very busy day. In the morning, we went to the Notre Dame Basilica to attend a Catholic church service. Afterwards, we explored downtown Ottawa. We went sight seeing and grabbed lunch at a random pub downtown. We had some time to kill before an informal meetup with Canadian survivors so we decided to walk to the restaurant early and hangout. I was afraid that if we went back to the Air B&B we would be too tired to go out. I was very excited to hangout with survivors from Ottawa because I prefer meeting people in comfortable/informal settings. The last few trips, we’ve made it a tradition to do a candy exchange with survivors from different countries. hee hee hee… candy is my weakness. I think I have a bunch of cavities. Check out the photos from Day 6.

Dennis left early in the morning the following day, leaving Bryan and I in the Air B&B. The day was originally scheduled for shopping, but neither of wanted to do any shopping so we decided to stay in and try to finish all the left over food! HAHAHA! A lazy day was exactly what we needed. We watched a bunch of movies/Canadian television programs to unwind. The following morning we shared a Lyft to the Airport and parted ways.

The trip to Ottawa got the gears moving in my brain for the next trip. On all of the trips we have noticed one thing… regardless of background, experiences, everyone enjoys eating. Preparing food, eating food, grocery shopping, exploring the area, and meeting new survivors have defined these trips. I personally have enjoyed it when we prepare our own meals. I always enjoy going to grocery stores in different countries to see the different item that are sold. We’ve had success preparing meals in Canada and San Diego, but I wonder how that would translate on overseas trips where we are more unfamiliar with the local cuisine. Stay tuned for the 2020 trips! We are always looking for oncology thrivers to join us on future trips! STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT APPLICATION CYCLE!

Here are summaries of the international trips we’ve been on so far…
2013 Honolulu, USA
2013 Honolulu, USA recap

2013 Tokyo, Japan and Manila, Philippines
2013 Tokyo/Manila Recap

2014 Singapore, Singapore
2014 Singapore recap

2015 Brussels, Belgium
2015 Belgium recap

2016 Cape Town, South Africa
2016 Cape Town recap

2017 NO TRIPS

2018 Toronto, Canada
2018 Toronto recap

2019 San Diego, USA
2019 San Diego recap

2019 Ottawa, Canada

Blog and mAss Kickers news25 Oct 2019 10:36 am
Another year has passed. I had surgery to removed a golf ball sized meningioma brain tumor at the cerebello-pontine angle on October 25, 2005. This was the day EVERYTHING CHANGED and I was reborn. For the first time in my life I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next and experienced true fear! It made me re-evaluate things. I remember calling the people closest to me before the surgery because I wasn’t sure if I was calling to say goodbye…

Surgery was extremely risky, but I needed that tumor thing (AKA “Amani Tumor” he was on my fantasy football team) out of my head! I survived the very risky 14 hour brain surgery, BUT I was left with some pretty severe physical impairments. I was reborn with a new attitude and a new appreciation for everything, I’m now officially 14… a “high school freshman”!

So much has happened since I was reborn. I’ve published 2 books, spoken at many interesting venues, traveled the world to talk about my experiences as a young physical therapist turned rehab patient with physical impairments, started a unique nonprofit, and met so many inspirational individuals around the world! While all of this sounds cool and exciting, I’ve also lost the majority of the hobbies I used to enjoy, lost contact with many of the friends that I used to have, lost my dream job shortly after getting it, lost my purpose/direction in life. My background in physical therapy has helped me navigate the scientific and medical aspects of my recovery, but I was not prepared for psychosocial ramifications of becoming a brain tumor survivor with severe physical impairments. I’m still adapting and learning new things in the process. Basically, I had to start EVERYTHING over from scratch, thus the “Rebirth”. My life is now dedicated to helping others: find their new path/direction after their treatments AND find a setting where they feel like they fit in.

These are some of the reasons mAss Kickers Foundation was created! On October 29, I’m traveling to Ottawa Canada for the first time with 3 other survivors to share our stories, hangout with survivors from Ottawa, and experience a new environment with fellow post treatment thrivers. Please contribute what you can to help other survivors discover something new!

Help me unite the world against all forms of tumors/cancer by donating what you can here:

https://tinyurl.com/2019HTKMOttawa

PASS IT ON!

Blog and PT shop talk27 Oct 2015 09:04 am

This was the first article I published in Advance Magazine for Physical Therapists… it led to the crazy idea of writing a book and publishing other articles!  It has been quite an adventure…

Reversal: When Therapists Become Patients

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We see patients every day. It’s real easy to forget they are people too, not just another “total knee” or “laminectomy”. Ever patient has a story. When taking a history how well do you really get to know your patients? I always used to wonder what they were going through, what things were like for them. I came to the seemingly obvious realization that a diagnosis affects people more than we know outside of the controlled therapy sessions. There are so many other factors involved in Rehab other than just mobility. I had to live through my “discovery”.

I graduated from Physical Therapy school at the University of Michigan- Flint in December 2003. I moved to San Diego, California a month after graduation in the hopes of finding a great job, an active lifestyle, and a nice girl. I found almost everything I was looking for in San Diego, but then I got some stunning news last September. I was diagnosed with a golf ball sized brain meningioma on my Tentoral membrane. The tumor was applying pressure to my brain stem (specifically the Pons) and my cerebellum. I was having severe symptoms of dizziness and nausea before I got things checked out. I had just started doing more swimming and surfing.   At first I thought I had an ear infection or maybe a Vestibular Problem, nothing too serious. Then I started getting headaches and nausea. That’s when I knew something wasn’t right.

According to the American Cancer Society 2% of all cancer related deaths were attributed to brain cancer. Males have a 0.66% lifetime risk of being diagnosed with a primary malignant brain tumor and a 0.50% chance of dying from a brain tumor. (1)   But men are at risk none the less, I never thought it could happen to me. It did. Meningiomas are the most common type of primary brain tumors at 27.4%.  (2) Meningiomas affect mainly elderly African-American women.(3) The Glioma family of tumors account for 44.4% of all tumors, with Glioblastoma being the most common type of Glioma at 51.9% and Astrocytoma representing 21.6% of all Gliomas.(2)

I’ve never been sick before. I always thought my first surgery was going to be orthopedic, not neuro and not so soon. I figured I’d have surgery at the hospital where I used to work because I knew the staff pretty well and I was familiar with how things were run there.  After much deliberation, I also chose to do my rehab where I used to work because I didn’t want to be alone and I knew I would be in good hands. When I first moved to San Diego I was torn between working in a hospital vs. working in a private clinic. I chose the hospital. I’m glad I made that decision because not only did I meet a lot of new people but it also opened the door for many other work related opportunities.

Knowing the staff where you have surgery has its perks and draw backs. (See side bar) I got the best treatment, but I also had a lot of visitors. I liked the friendly atmosphere, but it left me with very little privacy. The only awkward moments I had were taking showers with the assistance of the CNAs. It took me a few weeks to get used to that. I’m a pretty shy guy, and then I figured they see naked people all the time. At least none of my friends / old co-workers would see me naked!

Pros and Cons of going through rehab where you work (could be a side bar)

Pros

  • You’ll get the best care.
  • Your co-workers will be great advocates for you
  • Lots of support.
  • You’ll be familiar with protocols/policies and procedures.

Cons

  • So many visitors, very little privacy.
  • Your co-workers will see you at your worst.
  • It’s like you’re still going to work.
  • Different perceived roles with your co-workers.

 

The hardest thing for me to deal with in rehab was knowing what needed to be done to progress, but not being able to do it. I was discharged in a wheelchair to my apartment with my dad in early December. My dad had just recently retired so I would have someone with me at all times. He spent over 6 months away from home in Michigan to stay with me in San Diego. This in itself was a huge adjustment. I’m used to being on my own and doing things by myself.

I really think it was harder on my family than it was on me because I knew what to look for in terms of progress. I had to explain to my dad every day that things were going well, specifically with weight shifting and balance. He would only look at the big functional goals like walking distance and speed. It was tough trying to tell both my parents to stay patient because I shared their impatience.   They were so used to cheering me on as an athlete that I think it was a difficult adjustment for them to make.

I turned to my old co-workers for support once I started outpatient therapy. Actually they were the ones that took me out to happy hours and would help me escape my overprotective parents. We usually kept things professional during my therapy sessions. Sure, we would joke around, but there was mutual respect on both sides. What I really appreciated was my therapist asking me what I wanted to work on at the beginning of each session, while still setting certain objectives each session. I also appreciated the feedback on the identification of my impairments so I could attempt to correct them. Sometimes we get so used to telling patients what to do, we forget to tell them why we are doing certain activities. Setting my own goals really kept me going. The goals I set for myself helped me to focus on what I needed to do.

Things to remember when working with patients 

  1. Check-in periodically – Always ask their opinion on how they feel things are going
  2. Involve them in the treatment planning
  3. Help them set attainable functional goals
  4. Explain why they are doing certain activities
  5. Listen to their concerns. Don’t forget they spend more time with you than with their docs.
  6. Remind them that maximum progress is made outside of the therapy sessions through their HEP.

People ask me how I dealt with everything. My response to them is every day was different with new challenges. I know this is a cliché, but I had to take it one day at a time. I would wake up every morning and certain things would be a little easier. Each day brought a different challenge. Treating and beating each new challenge individually made the days go by faster. I never let go of the belief that I’m still a regular guy. It just takes me a little longer to do common everyday activities. I literally grew to hate the wheelchair and the walker so I would force myself to progress. I’m also still a pretty immature guy so I took the time to laugh at myself and all the difficult situations I put myself in.

I can’t even imagine going through rehab as an elderly adult. I have so much respect for them. The physical and psychological demands were enormous on me, an active young man. Their stage in life would obviously bring about different challenges/goals.  The biggest realization I made was that when patients go home, their impairments go with them. Unlike us, they get no vacation or breaks from the impairments. We get to go home at the end of the day and leave things at work. Putting on my shoes as a patient has definitely opened my eyes as a therapist.

Sources

  1. Ries LAG, Eisner MP, Kosary CL, Hankey BF, Miller BA, Clegg L, Edwards BK (eds.) Seer Cancer Statistics Review, 1973-1999: National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, 2002.
  2. Report, Primary Brain Tumors in the United States, 1992-1997.
  3. http://www.emedicine.com/NEURO/topic209.htm
Blog and mAss Kickers news18 Sep 2015 07:51 pm

September has always been a month full of excitement… the start of school, the start of football season, the baseball pennant race starts to heat up, cool (but not cold) weather, cider mills… so much to get excited about!  This year I started September on a plane to Brussels.  Check out the pictures and videos from our trip.  Blogs should be coming soon from participants!  Check mAssKickers.org soon.  It was an EPIC trip!  mAss Kickers Foundation took 4 post oncology treatment thrivers to Belgium and made some great connections in Europe.  We will definitely be returning to Europe!

2015 Celebration of Life flier_edited-3To close out September, I’ll be traveling to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to look at a PhD program.  Just exploring my options, but I’m always up for a new challenge.  I’m lecturing at the PT school, then visiting their PhD program.  I’m very excited to visit Dr. Claudo Battaglini’s lab and the “Get REAL & HEEL” Exercise/Physical Activity Program for Oncology patients.  I’m excited because I’ve never really hung out in the Southern East Coast and I have family and friends around UNC!  Should be an exiting end of the month!  October is is going to be a very packed month as well!  We have our Celebration of Life event on October 16, where survivors formally thank the people who were there for them with toasts!  I’ll be giving the final toast of the night and celebrating my 10 years of meningioma brain tumor survivorship, so hopefully many of the people who were there for me can make it so I can formally thank them!  SUPPORT US HERE!

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.
14 Feb 2007 06:45 pm

Sunday, April 6 2008 Carlsbad 5000 5K walk

Sunday, April 20 2008 Guest appearance as Minority survivor panelist on Vital Options – The Group Room Radio Show

Friday, May 9 2008 Sharp Healthcare Eagle Victories of Spirit Award Celebration

Saturday, September 6 2008 – Boston, MA Meningioma Day Speaker

Sunday, September 7 2008 – Boston University Book event details TBA

Sunday, October 5 2008 2-5PM Michigan Union, Kunzel room Book event sponsored by Lambda Phi Epsilon, Michigan Union bookstore

Saturday, October 25 2008 TUMORS SUCK DAY I’ll think of something REAL good hee hee ;D

Now Courting requests for 2009.

01 Nov 2006 10:21 pm

Physical Therapy Links

American Physical Therapy Association

Advance Magazine: a free biweekly PT magazine.

University of Michigan-Flint: where I went to PT school.

Sharp Grossmont Hospital: where I used to work.

Brain Tumor links

mAss Kickers – My newest “project” designed to empower people with knowledge.

US News and World Report primer on brain tumors. 7/24/07

Information about Meningiomas from the Brain Science Foundation:  Meningioma Project

Very basic brain anatomy from the American Brain Tumor Association

Questions to ask a neurosurgeon from the Meningioma Mommas website

I highly suggest joining a message board or discussion forum for a national brain tumor organization. There is some great information/advice in there. Be careful though… what you read in there may scare you because of the “real” situations/problems. You don’t have to post a message if you’re uncomfortable, but the people who usually post in there are really friendly and knowledgable. A word of advice though, double check any info you pick up with a health care professional before making any decisions

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National Brain Tumor Foundation: based in the West coast of the USA.

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The Healing Exchange Brain Trust: based in the East coast of the USA.

The Brain Tumor Society: based in the East coast of the USA.

The Brain Tumor Foundation: based in New York.

Southeastern Brain Tumor Foundation: based in the Southern USA.

American Brain Tumor Association: based in the Midwestern USA.

Fairview-University Brain Tumor Center: based in the Midwestern USA.

Brain Tumor Foundation of England: based in England.

Brain Tumor Foundation of Canada: based in Canada.

Search Magazine: a newsletter dedicated to brain tumor patients and families. “Survivor Stories” column gives first hand inspirational accounts of life as a brain tumor patient.

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Meningioma Mommas: A site dedicated to meningiomas. It’s not just for mammas!

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Brain Science Foundation: A group dedicated to Brain Tumor research. The founder is a meningioma survivor.

Chordoma Support group: A site dedicated to Chordoma tumors

Links For younger patients

I'm Too Young For This! A hip site for young people with cancer.

Planet Cancer: A cool site for young adult patients with cancer. Has a great message board.

Vital Options: One of the first organizations to support young adults with cancer.

The Ulman fund: Founded by cancer survivor Doug Ulman this fund is dedicated to supporting young adults with cancer. He has a picture of him running the NY Marathon with Lance Armstrong. Sweet!

Young Adults Surviving Glioblastoma: A site dedicated to supporting young adults whose lives have been affected by glioblastoma brain tumors.

NBTF YA Support group: If you have/had a brain tumor and are between 18-35 years old, then this is a must see page for you!

Voices of Survivors – Real patients talk about their perspectives on “survivorship” also includes impressive lyrical creations by talented survivors.

Clinical Trials: Research is essential to the fight against brain tumors/cancer. Consult with a physician before agreeing to do a clinical trial.

VirtualTrials.com: a listing of clinical trials for brain tumor specific research

Clinicaltrials.gov: a listing of all registered clinical research with the US Government.

Tumor mAss Kickers

Liz Holzemer: an inspirational meningioma survivor. She founded Meningioma Mommas and is a professional writer as well.

Bluberry News: blog from a guy and his wife in Scotland that had PDD and PDT, a new type of light treatment for brain tumors.

Tumorland: A great blog for brain tumor information. This blog has a lot of information about chemotherapy and other types of brain tumor research. It was created by a writer so it is MUCH more elequent then my blog!

An Interview with Dr. Peter Black: This guy is one of the researchers leading the fight against brain tumors!

Audra Coldiron: A young mom and a brain tumor survivor

The Journal of a Prizefighter: A young man’s fight against Hodgkin’s disease

ABC.com article about a Doctor and Brain Cancer Survivor: An Exerpt from Dr. Bernadine Healy’s book Living Time

Jerry Kline: A glioblastoma multiform survivor his site has links to other GBM survivors! Those people are amazing!

Michael Tiernan: A Testicular cancer survivor and awesome musician. Check out his Site!

Wonky-eye: A young wife’s perspective on her young husband’s brain tumor

Stupid Cancer blog: A compilation of other blogs written by survivors.
Non-boring, readable brain tumor articles

Stephen Brown:  Triathlete, Coach, Writer, Speaker, Survivor

Study finds drug that fights brain tumors and cancer

Good Friends Are Good For You

Your guide to never feeling tired again

31 Oct 2006 11:36 pm

gone fishingI’m just a short Filipino-American guy from Michigan. I was a nerd in High School. “A’s” filled my report cards and I still was into cartoons and science fiction. The only thing that kept me from getting picked on was the fact that I was good at sports. In high school, I was a First team, All-League defensive back in football, a 1991 Michigan State champion in wrestling, and a 4 year state qualifier in track. I was also an active member of the Student council and the National Honor Society.

In undergrad at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, I discovered beer, but somehow I was able to graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology. Along the way, I helped to establish the first Asian-American interest fraternity in the Midwest, was an officer in both the Filipino American Student Association and the Asian American Association, and joined an a capella group, 58 Greene, with no musical experience (it helped that one of my good friends was the director and that a lot of my friends were already in the group). After undergrad, I worked for 2 years as a Physical Therapy Aide on the rehab unit at the University of Michigan Medical Center, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. I saw some pretty amazing stuff there. I really enjoyed helping people get better. After working there, I knew I was going to be a physical therapist.

I then moved to LA to go to school full time and improve my GPA before applying to grad schools. After a year in California, I moved back to Michigan to start physical therapy school at U of M-Flint. Before I left for LA, I applied to the U of M-Flint Physical Therapy Program since I still had my Michigan residency. I graduated from Physical Therapy school with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree in December 2003. In 2003, I also earned the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)  certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).  I woke up one morning and decided I should move to San Diego to start my career. So I did. I’ve done the Michigan-California drive five times, three times with a companion and twice by myself. I knew 2 people in San Diego when I moved. I made some good friends in San Diego, but in the back of my mind I still missed everything and everyone I left behind in Michigan.

Things were going great in San Diego! I loved my job and all the outdoor activities San Diego had to offer. Then in the summer of 2005, I started getting intermittent episodes of dizziness, headaches, and nausea. I had an excuse for each symptom and would push through the symptoms to function everyday. I have always been the kind of guy who likes to push his physical limits. I learned how to swim just so I could go surfing and do triathlons. I completed 2 sprint triathlons and a half marathon in 2005. Like many other single men, I moved to the West coast from the Midwest in the hopes of finding a sweet job, an active lifestyle, and a nice girl.

Nothing could have prepared me for the news I was about to receive. Brain cancer/tumors are pretty rare when compared to other types of cancer. On September 10th 2005, I found out I had a huge brain tumor, a meningioma the size of a golf ball, on the tentorial membrane at the base of my brain between my brain stem and my cerebellum. The brainstem controls basic/unconscious body functions like heart rate, breathing, and facial/tongue movements. The cerebellum controls coordination and fine motor skills. Pretty important stuff at risk! I have a lot of friends here in San Diego, but I wanted to be with my family. The first people I called when I found out were my “Mommy” and “Papa”! I finally realized how much I loved my family.  I had to talk to my brother separately once I figured out what was going on!  The rest of my family and friends were informed once I “digested” the news! In the following months: I had brain surgery to have the tumor removed; radiation therapy to get rid of the remains; Speech, occupational,and physical therapy for all the physical and mental impairments I was left with after the surgery. I was receiving rehab at the hospital where I used to work. In a strange twist, the people I used to work side by side with were now working with me as a patient!

As a patient I really wanted to be prepared for what lay ahead. My medical background helped immensely, but there were still a few things I wasn’t ready for. I’ve been exposed to a number of patients with different diagnoses, but I couldn’t find a book or other resource by a young single guy in the same boat as me. I was lying in my hospital bed and decided that when I got out of this, I would write a book… a “real” account of life as a patient for therapy students and younger patients with common situations and written in a style in which they could relate.  published my first book 2 years after my brain tumor diagnosis:  Reversal, When a Therapist Becomes A Patient, and 2 year later self published my second book:  Awakening, Becoming a Brain Tumor Thriver;

Since my diagnosis I have found new path in Cancer/ Brain Tumor Survivor Advocacy through education.

  • When I was first diagnosed, I led a team that raised over $11,000 for the National Brain Tumor Foundation; created a support network for young survivors named TUMORS SUCK!;
  • Led the development of a unique website called mAssKickers.org designed to empower cancer/brain tumor patients with knowledge;
  • Organized national book tours with stops in Evanston IL, Flint MI, Oakland CA, Boston MA, Ann Arbor MI, Miami FL, Tampa FL Chicago IL, Austin TX, Houston TX, New York NY, Loma Linda CA, San Diego CA and recently started doing online lectures;
  • Became active in the young adult survivor community, brain tumor survivor community, and Oncology Physical Rehab movement; and
  • Recently I have been traveling internationally with cancer survivors to do presentations about a proactive life (thrivership) after a cancer diagnosis at: Ateneo University – Manila, Philippines (2013), Yongsan US Army Garrison – Seoul, South Korea (2014), National University – Singapore (2014), Hospital Paul Devaux at the Institute Gilles Bordeaux – Brussels, Belgium (2015), and most recently we met with the patient support organizations in Cape Town South Africa: CHOC South Africa and PLWC  (2016).  There are plans to do more international “thrivership educational missions”

I have accomplished a lot in the past few years, but I’ve always felt out of place.  Where did I belong in the survivorship community? I didn’t technically have “cancer”, but that “benign” tumor hit me pretty hard. (Actually “non-malignant” brain tumor is the correct term. There is no such thing as a “benign” brain tumor. Look up the definition of “benign.”) It didn’t knock me out, so it’s my turn to retaliate and go on “the offensive“! That word has a loaded meaning… hee hee hee… mAss Kickers Foundation is a community of ALL people affected by tumors or cancer (survivors and our loved ones) that want to fight back against these horrible diseases!   Sharing our Knowledge, Promoting Unity, and Supporting Research is how we will Empower ourselves in this epic battle! (Use the K.U.R.E.)

The rest of my story isn’t written. I’m still improving and re-creating myself. I’ve learned a lot about myself already. All I know is that I’m going to fully enjoy living the rest of my story.  I have a few more things I need to do!  Stay tuned!