2014 asia and Blog and housekeeping06 Nov 2014 05:41 am


Hee hee hee… had a very interesting night. I unexpectedly ventured of base with a bunch of military PTs to grab some authentic Korean food. I went downstairs to the lobby in jeans, a polo shirt, and some Flip Flops. I assumed that we were eating in the hotel.  I was surprised to see everyone bundled up and ready to go!  San Diego weather has spoiled me.  I wasn’t thinking we were staying on base so I left my base access pass in the hotel room.  Well, I didn’t realize this until we were off the base in the streets of Seoul!  D’oh!  We figured we’ll deal with that when the we have to get back in! Well anyways, we ended up going to an authentic Korean Restaurant, Jeong Gam Eo Rin. In college, I was introduced to Korean food and eventually learned to love kimchee.  It was a Korean BBQ, so we had the kalbi.  The kalbi, kimchee, and this cold noodle soup was awesome!  I’d never had the cold soup before.  It was actually chilled and surprisingly refreshing.   It was great hanging out with other PTs.  The conversations are uniquely “PT”.  It has been a while since I’ve been around other PTs since I’m typically around the tumor/cancer survivor/advocacy population!   Dinner was great!

Well, we still had to deal with the fact that I didn’t have my base access pass with me.  Re-entering the base might be problematic.  Luckily, there were a couple Korean speaking therapists with us that were able to help us get back on the base. Took a while and a bunch of phone calls were made, but we finally made it back!  Whew… Anyways, another great meal in Korea!  One more day at the conference.  Tomorrow I check out and I leave for Singapore on Sat. I will be exploring the base Friday afternoon and check out the military PT clinic. Anyways, it is a 7 hour flight on Korean Air.  The zipper on my luggage broke, so I’m going to have to get some new luggage.  I expect some difficulty checking in/boarding the plane with the “mAss Kicker Mobile” in both Korea and Singapore.  Stay tuned!

Blog and housekeeping and mAss Kickers news14 Sep 2014 11:14 pm

Last weekend I had the opportunity to go to Austin, Texas to check out the Brain Power 5K race/walk created by Kelly Bollinger.  It was great because I got to reconnect with my friend, “Hawktober for Brain Tumor Awareness” founder, and fellow brain tumor survivor Matt Cotcher I was also excited to reconnect with my other friend, Runi Limary.  Another brain tumor buddy, Iram J. Leon was kind enough to host me for the weekend.  J. is a very accomplished runner and has garnered national media attention.   He has won multiple races after brain surgery and qualified for the Boston Marathon earlier this year! He picked me up from the airport on Friday and we went directly to one of my favorite restaurants in Austin so I could have some brisket tacos.  I was first introduced to brisket by a friend in San Jose, CA years ago.  When I learned about the lengthy preparation of brisket, I became a big fan of Texas BBQ!  They take their grilling very seriously in Texas!  After college, I proudly held the tittle of “Grill Master” after years of “apprenticeship” watching my dad and my housemates in college!  I was told that I have to check out more Texas BBQ places the next time to get an idea of the different types of BBQ! Later that evening our friend Chris invited us to an acrobatic-equestrian-Cirque du Soleil-type show, Gladius.  Physical displays of skill always impress me!

DSC_1541The next day J took me to an Ultimate Frisbee Tournament. I was surprised that teams from all over Texas came to this tournament!  On the way back, we did a “drive by” of the University of Texas Campus in Austin on a Football Game day!  I def want to check out an authentic Texas tailgate before a football game.  I’ve been to tailgates in Ann Arbor, Columbus, East Lansing, Chicago, and Pasadena.  I want to go one for a South Eastern Conference game and a Pac-12 game.  I always enjoy “geeking out”, so J took me to the Texas State Capitol in Austin!  After the trip to the capital, we stopped by this really cool graffiti art wall where artists paint whatever they want on the walls!  Here are some pictures from the day!  Instead of lunch, we decided to get some ice cream, so we went to another Austin staple,  Amy’s Ice Cream.   For dinner, we met up with Chris to catch up and watch a little football.  Later that evening, J went out while I stayed in to watch the Michigan-Notre Dame football game.   I am addicted to Michigan Football.  My general mood in the fall is sadly dependent on the outcome of the Michigan football games.  The past few years I have been pretty grumpy!  I’m learning to let go!  Sadly, it was an early night for me because Michigan got demolished, which in hindsight was probably a good thing since we had to get up early for the Brain Power 5K.

Kelly and Runi have done a great job organizing the Brain Power 5K.  I was very impressed with the turnout and growth of the event!  In a short time it has grown from 300 participants to over 14 hundred!  It was great running into Matt at the start of the race!  When I first found out that he writes about sports, I was intrigued.. We got along well from the very beginning.  The mAss Kickers Foundation Support Campaign, Rock Da Hawk is very closely tied to the “Hawktober for Brain Tumor Awareness” Campaign.   Matt has taken the mohawk campaign and run with it!  I support “Hawktober ” 100% because mohawks are hard to ignore, and ANYONE can participate in the campaign! Anyways, I had to explore the Brain Power 5K venue because I was amazed that the event was actually created by survivors and run by survivors!  You don’t see that too often!  Here are pictures from the Brain Power 5K event!   J organized one of the larger teams and had the top 3 male overall finishers and the top 3 overall female finishers!   I was honored to be a part of “Team Scarecrow” so I created the video above!  After the race, we went out to eat at another Austin restaurant that was kind of like a Denny’s.  An omelet and pancakes for dinner, is always filling!  The people in Texas are so hospitable!

texas state pt The next day, my friend Gayle picked me up from Austin, and took me to Texas State San Marcos to lecture to Physical Therapy Students about my experiences as a young healthcare professional turned brain tumor patient!  I always enjoy lecturing to students because they always keep me on my toes and ask some of the more interesting questions.  I did not realize how far San Marcos was from Austin.  Gayle had to pick up her kids from school so I had to find a ride to Austin.  The last time I spoke at Texas State, another one of my friends drove me there, and back.  I thought that I could simply take a Uber car from the school back to Austin.   I was wrong.  There were no Uber drivers in San Marcos plus I found out that a taxi would be ~$100 to take back to Austin.  I was so lucky that Dr. McDowell was able to give me a ride back to Austin on her way home from San Marcos!   Dr. McDowell dropped me off at a restaurant and I met up with Gayle again and another survivor friend, Deb.  I always enjoy meeting other survivors, even survivors of different types of tumors/cancer. There is always an unspoken bond that “connects” us.  I always have a great time in Austin and look forward to returning.

I have some more cool stuff in the works.  I just confirmed that I’m speaking at a military healthcare conference in Seoul, S. Korea in November.  They want me to:

  1. share my story as a healthcare professional turned oncology patient
  2. present the benefits of physical activity/exercise in a post oncology treatment population.

I have to alter my presentations for a military and Korean audience.  This will be exciting!  I’m thinking about going to S. Korea early to experience Halloween in another country… I’ve had some pretty exciting Halloweens in the past, but that is a story for another time… Seoul here I come!  I wonder how people will respond to the “mAss Kicker Mobile” there…  it was a different in experience in Japan and the Philippines last time.



Blog and housekeeping and mAss Kickers news11 Jul 2014 11:58 am


Thanks for including me Emily and Selma!  This in an old interview!


Blog and housekeeping and mAss Kickers news19 May 2014 01:35 pm

concorde logo

This past week, I had the opportunity to speak at the Physical Therapy Assistant program at Concorde College in San Diego.  I have been doing a lot with Healthcare Education programs recently.  Last month I did a google hangout with a Physical Therapy Class at The University of New England.   I really enjoy speaking to students because I feel like there is so much potential in them to do something great!  I have had great mentors growing up and transitioning to the next phases of my life.  In high school, it was my sports coaches. In college, it was the student organization faculty advisors and my older friends. In grad school, it was the faculty and my clinical instructors.  As a young professional, I was assigned a mentor in the clinic.  In the nonprofit sector for the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many individuals who offer me priceless advice.  I’ve realized that no one person accomplishes things completely alone.  Everyone needs guidance.  This is probably why I’m so drawn to educating people about how to “thrive” after a tumor/cancer diagnosis!  I’m realizing that I’m really going to have to leap out of my comfort zone to truly raise awareness for “post treatment thrivership” to go beyond “survivorship.”  To me, being a “survivor” is something every individual diagnosed with a tumor/cancer looks to become.  Weathering the emotional and physical storm of a tumor or cancer diagnosis and becoming a “survivor” is a very great accomplishment, but that experience can ignite a fire in an individual to advocate against these diseases through research, psychosocial support, patient advocacy, patient education, political lobbying, etc.  The next step after becoming a survivor is becoming a “thriver.”  To become a “thriver”, a “survivor” begins to stand up against against these diseases and actively promotes the fight to conquer these diseases.  Becoming an advocate for post-treatment “thrivership” is no easy task.   It takes the right attitude and the genuine ability to promote the fight against tumors/cancer based on personal experience.


This weekend, I stepped out of my comfort zone again. I went to my first charity fashion show to see if a similar event would be appropriate for mAss Kickers Foundation.  It was a very interesting event.  Fashion is something I know very little about.  I was hoping to meet people from the beneficiary, International Children’s Cancer Foundation. They were hard to identify.  I really appreciated all the hard work by Ella PR that went into creating this unique charity event. I was very impressed with the number of sponsors, the turnout, and the accessibility of the venue.  I honestly had no idea what to expect!  Everyone was friendly and very accommodating to the “stranger in the mobility scooter.”  I only stayed for the actual show, so I didn’t get the chance to “mingle” as much as I would have liked.  I did meet some cool people there.  I’m learning that if you don’t have the guts to start conversations with complete strangers, you will never get out of your social network.  I’m finding that everyone I meet is amused by the name “mAss Kickers.”  People chuckle when I tell them about the name and why we think life after a tumor/cancer diagnosis needs a different approach!  The logo was designed to be a subtle way to promote a proactive lifestyle.  I still feel very lucky to be able to do everything that I’m doing now!  The past few years has been filed with “experiments” and “tests.”  I’m starting to figure things out!   Just getting downtown at night by myself was fun.  I’m faced with numerous physical challenges, but I’ve learned that you need to adapt or get left behind.  I appreciate the help from all my friends and family in supporting all the crazy ideas that pop in my head!  I’m really starting to get busy with things I never dreamed I would do!  I’ve leapt way outside of my comfort zone.  I am still surprised at some of the things I’ve already accomplished!  I’ll admit meeting new people who share the same passion about fighting these diseases is pretty cool!  New ideas are starting to solidify.  I’m very thankful for everyone that has supported me in the past!  There is still a lot of work to be done.  I’ll make you proud.  Stay tuned… more fun stuff is in the works!

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…

housekeeping and Random blog09 Jan 2014 06:12 pm



Blog and housekeeping09 Apr 2012 09:38 pm
  1. in high school i was a champion athlete with aspirations to wrestle in college.
  2. in college i discovered my filipino-american roots, joined an asian american fraternity, and joined an a capella singing group.
  3. i went to grad school and i became a book nerd.
  4. after grad school, i became a CA licensed physical therapist and a certified strength and conditioning specialist.
  5. i then became a young adult brain tumor patient/survivor.
  6. 2 years later, i became an author traveling the country speaking at health care education programs and hospitals.
  7. 3 years later, i became a nonprofit executive.
  8. i now travel the WORLD spreading the concept of post tumor/cancer “thrivership.”

it should be interesting to see what happens next!

there were different catalysts for each transformation:

  • discovered beer
  • wanted to directly help people and become a physical therapist
  • needed to become a professional
  • got diagnosed with a golf-ball sized brain tumor
  • realized there is a need to educate healthcare professionals about brain tumor survivorship
  • realized that ALL TYPES of newly diagnosed tumor/cancer patients and ALL our loved ones need to UNITE and FIGHT these horrible diseases
  • realized that in other parts of the world, a tumor/cancer diagnosis is perceived as a “hopeless death sentence” 🙁  TIME TO FIGHT THAT STIGMA AROUND THE GLOBE… ask me how we’ll do this  😉
housekeeping28 Jul 2009 10:58 pm


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