mAss Kickers news


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 housekeeping and mAss Kickers news23 Nov 2017 01:31 pm

I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew.  I moved to Houston in August to go back to school in the hopes of pursuing a PhD in Public Health.  It has been quite an adventure since I’ve moved.  Just getting my stuff here was a huge ordeal!  Dealing with movers and the weather was much more expensive than I budgeted.   Hurricane Harvey flooding complicated the delivery of my things.  The move was supposed to cost me an estimated $1700, but it ended up costing $3000!  I missed the first week of classes waiting for my furniture to arrive, so I was already behind academically.  This was a very big issue because returning to school as an older student with a physical disability definitely was going to be very challenging.   The fact that my background is not in the social sciences AND the fact that the program is in “Health Promotion and BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE” definitely has made the transition more challenging.   I was prepared for the “Health Promotion” aspect of the program through my work with mAss Kickers Foundation, but not the “Behavioral Science”/ psychology aspect of the degree.  Good thing that this was caught early on.  The combination of a lengthy break from academia and a weak background in social science research led to the decision that maybe I should pursue an MPH in Behavioral Science and Health Promotion instead of struggling through a PhD program.  Will have to consult more people… The intent to pursue a degree in Public Health is still there, but maybe a PhD is not appropriate yet.  For the first time in a while, I am not able to do what I want.

The reality of the situation is frustrating, but all is not lost.  A few weeks ago, I met Lex Frieden.  He is “a chief architect of the Americans with Disabilities Act” located in Houston.  I am very excited to announce that I have the opportunity to work him next semester at the Texas Institute of Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR).  It will be an excellent opportunity to learn more about disability advocacy directly from him and apply my rehabilitation/non profit knowledge to his current work in rehabilitation research.  Most of my focus since my brain tumor diagnosis has been on oncology related issues.  I have done a few things in the disability community, so I’m very excited to learn from Dr. Frieden and get more involved in rehabilitation research.  I still am very interested in the role of physical activity/exercise in tumor/cancer survivors, but I think that physical disability and exercise/physical activity could be another factor worth studying… You can’t always get to do want you want, but you have to be resilient and be able to adapt.  Things have been challenging since I’ve been in Houston, but I’m starting to adjust…

Blog and mAss Kickers news23 Sep 2016 03:36 am

2016-htkm-now-cool_ericI’m an 11 year brain tumor survivor with severe physical impairments. The last decade has been a crazy ride! I have gone from doctor of physical therapy to brain tumor patient with physical disabilities; brain tumor survivor to brain tumor advocate; and advocate to nonprofit professional! I’m not done yet… ;P

I’m planning on taking 3 “post-oncology treatment thrivers” that embody the SPIRIT of mAss Kickers Foundation to present in Cape Town, South Africa.  We will be presenting about a proactive life after a tumor/cancer diagnosis at health care education schools, to charity organizations, and to survivor groups Nov 9 -16. We believe that we need to approach these diseases with more intelligence, heart, and humor.

Please consider a donation to support our 2016 efforts to educate people in South Africa about a proactive life after a tumor/cancer diagnosis… THERE IS A STIGMA OF SHAME/GUILT/EMBARRASSMENT ASSOCIATED WITH A TUMOR/CANCER DIAGNOSIS. HELP US SHOW THE WORLD THAT SURVIVORS CAN PICK OURSELVES UP AND THRIVE AFTER A TUMOR/CANCER DIAGNOSIS!

The 4 survivors participating in this tumor/cancer “thrivership” mission are very excited to travel to an exciting new place, but we need YOUR HELP TO FUND THIS!

Please help me reach my fundraising goal! The San Diego based cancer research company, Ignyta Inc. will match donations up to $3000. This is a GREAT WAY OPPORTUNITY TO SUPPORT US!  We will definitely send you a video shout out from Cape Town!

Help us teach the WORLD how to “Kick mAss!” Pass this on!

Thanks,  Eric

Blog and housekeeping and mAss Kickers news16 Nov 2015 04:47 pm

1It’s funny. I thought things would be slowing down this month since I’m not traveling, but things are actually getting busier!  I’m already starting to set stuff up for next year.  There are plans to do more traveling internationally, but we need a more consistent source of revenue to take more post-treatment “thrivers” on these trips.  The purpose of these trip is to promote a proactive life after a tumor/cancer diagnosis and dispel the international stigma that a tumor/cancer diagnosis is a death sentence.  Right now, your donations are supporting MKF activities.  In order for MKF to grow, there needs to be a more formal staff to manage everything.  I’m realizing that the type of assistance MKF needs requires hiring someone!  The direction MKF is heading is WAY out of my professional expertise!  Early on my vision for MKF needed to be established and I took on much of the work/responsibility myself.  I think this is typically called “Founder’s Syndrome“.  The problem now is finding reliable people who want to make the organization grow.  Finding people with the same passion is not difficult because people generally don’t like tumors/cancer.  But when personal responsibilities start to arise, it is hard for people to make time for the organization.  Herein lies the problem, at this point in the organization’s life span, we need to hire formal staff.  The staff at this level require a salary, but funds/donations still come in inconsistently.  Getting MKF this far, took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. I’m realizing now that I may not be the right person to lead MKF into the next stage of organizational growth.  We’ve been stuck in the “Adolescent/Growing phase” for quite some time.  I think I might be too “emotionally invested” in MKF.  I just want to make sure MKF is left in the right hands.  I’m getting ready to add more teammates because I’m realizing that one person alone can’t handle everything!  I’m starting to think partnerships with the right organizations will be key for MKF in the future.  Please contact me through mAssKickers.org if you are interested in formally helping with MKF.  Be prepared to share a resume/references.

housekeeping and mAss Kickers news02 Nov 2015 11:57 am

rehab10 years ago today, I left the intensive care unit after major brain surgery with a new attitude. I was a pretty happy-go-lucky guy before the surgery, but I came out the ICU more focused than ever before!  I was still recovering, but I made the decision that I wasn’t going to be defeated by a brain tumor.  I just needed to find a way to fight back!  I lost my career working as a physical therapist, the majority of my hobbies, and very briefly my confidence.  Over the past 10 years I’ve built myself back up and:

  • published articles in a number of magazines/news letters
  • published two books,
  • created a unique non-profit,
  • spoken at universities/ physical therapy programs around the United States,
  • spoken at universities in 3 continents,
  • spoken at conferences across the United States,
  • given a keynote speech at a physical therapy graduation ceremony,
  • given keynote speeches at 3 conferences,
  • promoted “post-treatment thrivership” to countless survivors and healthcare professionals around the world!
  • I have a few more things in the works… STAY TUNED!

Please support my passion to educate the WORLD ABOUT A PROACTIVE LIFE AFTER A TUMOR/CANCER DIAGNOSIS by making a secure Paypal donation to mAss Kickers Foundation. 

Blog and mAss Kickers news and reviews19 Oct 2015 05:44 pm

The 2015 Celebration of Life was this past Friday.  A group of tumor/cancer survivors created this event five years ago to say thanks to the people that were there for us during the most difficult times in our lives:  our family, our friends, and fellow survivors.  This year Patti McDonald, Vi Ariola, and I did the toasts.  We showed the latest Tumors Suck videos.  It is getting harder to get people together because everyone is very involved in a variety of different organizations, most notably: Relay for Life, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Stupid Cancer, and First Descents.  We welcome ALL to come and celebrate another year together!  The purpose of the “Celebration of Life” is to formally say thanks to the people who were there for us in the most difficult times in our lives!  We rarely get to do that.  I don’t think I ever officially said “thanks!” to all my supporters.  We formally recognized them by honoring them with toasts.

Something strange happened that night…  I’ve noticed that I always get choked up whenever my family is there for a presentation!  My mom, my dad, and my brother went through so much because of me.  It is very humbling.  Somehow I got them to write “essays” about their experiences with having a loved one going into surgery!  Very surprised they did it!  When they aren’t present for a talk, I’m fine.  I still can’t believe how strong they were for the situation I put them in!  I’ve spoken at numerous universities, hospitals, ceremonies, and events all over the world, but put me in front of the people that were there for me when I was “lost”… I get very emotional.  I can’t help it! I was confused, scared, and for the first time in my life not confident.  I’ve noticed that I now wear my emotions on my sleeve, which is funny because before surgery, I was a very stoic guy!  When I’m excited about something, you can tell. I’m also more apt to have an emotional responses to heart-wrenching stories.  I always blame my “allergies” when that happens.  The past year was particularly tough losing a couple close friends to brain tumors.  It does not get any easier.  There is a part of me that realizes how close I was to leaving this world or having severely debilitating side effects.  It is very humbling.  I strongly believe that my prior and current physical activity level played a very large role in my survivorship and subsequent “thrivership”.  I’m VERY interested in WHY my survivor friends who are physically active tend to do better after treatment.  I’m very curious.  The human body is not supposed to be stationary. I think that there must be some relationship between physical activity/exercise and post oncology treatment quality of life.

Anyways, after a very busy September of traveling, I can finally rest!  Actually this week, I’m experimenting with the Google hangout in a classroom setting.  I’ve done it a couple times, but I’m still trying to perfect it!  Then I can rest!  I will try to take some screen shots and post it on facebook!  Starting to plan MKF activities for next year!

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!

Blog and mAss Kickers news10 Aug 2015 09:31 am

2015 tspb flier2The past 2 weeks have been packed!  I went home for the 2015 TUMORS SUCK! Paintball Benefit in Pinckney, MI.  There were more kids this year and all the paintball teams do a great job making sure everyone has a good time. Under the leadership of Angel Bureau, Andy Wlodyga, and the “Mitten Men” the event has grown even bigger.  It is always great to see people unite for a great cause!  For parents, it’s a unique way to PLAY with you kids/family.  The speed of the paintballs was turned down and the age limit was dropped to 6 years old to make the event more friendly to the “newbies” and more become more family oriented!  It was great to see quite a few parents playing with their kids this year!  It is definitely a unique way to do a family fun event!  This year there were 2 paintball “tanks”  where survivors could go out onto the field and shoot their paintball guns at people without return fire…  “FEAR THE TANK”.  It was great seeing families having fun doing something unique together! I give props to the all the moms and dads that played paintball with their kids!  HAHAHA!  Parents are always cleaning up after their kids.  It’s not often that parents get to have fun getting messy WITH their kids!  It definitely was cool seeing the kids having fun for a good cause!  We are creating a new generation of mAss Kickers who enjoy supporting our unique activities.  The Paintball Benefit gets bigger and more fun every year!  We always look forward to welcoming new people to the event!  Everyone does 5Ks or Event Galas to promote their causes.  While we think that it is great, we wanted to do something unique and fun for everyone.  Andy is one of my closest friends from growing up and when he found out that I was battling a brain tumor, he wanted to create a unique event to support the young organization I had created, mAss Kickers Foundation.  He brought in his significant other, Angel Bureau to organize the event logistics.  They do a great job every year recruiting players, volunteers, securing sponsors, and raising funds for mAss Kickers Foundation!  We even created a website specifically for the the event in the hopes of expanding the event to other venues in different states.  We are very excited about the potential for growth!  IT IS A VERY UNIQUE AND FUN EVENT FOR EVERYONE!

After the paintball event, I traveled to Dallas, TX to participate in the National Association of Asian American Professionals.  It was only the second time I’ve attended one of their events.  In college, I was very involved with the Filipino-American and Asian American communities.  I’m looking forward to getting re-involved to address oncology disparities in the Filipino-American and Asian American populations.  Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post from Dallas!

Blog and mAss Kickers news18 Jun 2015 07:47 pm

La Mesa, California USA – On June 6, 2015  Nine teams that consisted of physical therapy students, physical therapists, health care professionals, cancer survivors, and community members gathered at Helix High School Sports Fields for a unique event to support mAss Kickers Foundation’s 2015 Charity Kickball Tournament.  Teams competed for the coveted Championship P.I.M.P. (Pugilistic Individual Mass-Kickn’ with Pride) Chalices.  Check out some of the picture!

The event was created to support mAss Kickers Foundation’s “How to Kick mAss” International Thrivership Program.  Internationally, cancer survivorship is not as prominent as it is in the United States.  mAss Kickers Foundation’s goal is to educate the future healthcare professionals, current healthcare professionals, and patients to dispel the negative stigma that cancer is a death sentence.

mAss Kickers Foundation firmly believes that the global stigma of a tumor/cancer diagnosis as a death sentence needs to be addressed and that tumor/cancer thrivers can be both a symbol and voice of hope in dispelling the myth that cancer is a death sentence.  Over the past two years, we have taken survivors to: Tokyo, Japan; Manila, Philippines; Seoul, South Korea; and Singapore, Singapore to meet other survivors in different countries AND lecture to health professionals/oncology researchers about the survivor experience.  Plans are in the works to take survivors to meet other survivors and present in Brussels, Belgium later in 2015.

988595_10152945449415662_5629170244804335760_nPlease consider a tax-deductible donation and support your favorite Kickball Team or Kickball Player to support our plans to educate the WORLD about a proactive life after a tumor/cancer diagnosis. We are looking forward to visiting another continent!  No other organization is doing this yet!  Be a part of something new and exciting!  Any thing will help!  We are almost to our goal!

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