Blog and rehab10 Jul 2019 07:11 am

Realizing you can’t do something is extremely humbling.  Pursuing another graduate degree in a completely different profession with some pretty severe impairments was pretty ambitious!  I think that accomplishing so much after major brain surgery probably inflated my confidence and gave me a false sense of invincibility.  For the first time since my diagnosis I couldn’t figure out how to address my impairments… in an academic setting.  I have learned that the cognitive/short term memory impairments are an extremely difficult to overcome in a formal graduate school environment.  Impairments were easy to compensate on my own with my smartphone for note taking in meetings and a “lax” work environment.  I’m just not sure if I have the energy to pursue another degree knowing that there is someone out there who needs that extra nudge to become an advocate for tumor/cancer survivors OR more importantly help survivors find their own purpose post-treatment.  Maybe if I was 10 years younger I would have had the energy to both pursue another degree AND do advocacy work.  After careful consideration, I’ve decided to “punt” on the additional degree and shift my focus back to empowering oncology survivors with a proactive attitude (AKA “Kicking Mass”). I’m now understanding that I was spreading myself thin trying to go to school AND run mAss Kickers Foundation. 

While it has been humbling realizing that you can’t do everything, new interests have emerged.   In the past 2 years here in Houston, I have learned more about issues in disability.  Earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak on a panel at the University of Texas, Medical Branch in Galveston (BTW, cool beach city south of Houston) to discuss disability and healthcare.  It was only the second time I’ve spoken specifically about disability issues.  There are physical therapy rehab programs close to Houston, so maybe I’ll get more involved with them…  Check out the first time I’ve spoken about disability issues.  Disability advocacy is now on my radar and obviously near and dear to my heart!  Disability is very prevalent in the brain tumor survivor population and is an issue that many survivors are unfamiliar.  Maybe combining bout interests… Do many brain tumor survivors apply for disability benefits… Medicare/medicaid?

The move to Texas has definitely been an adventure: 

  • moving here with Hurricane Harvey,
  • dealing with scooter travel in heavy rain,
  • going back to school after a 15-year break in a completely different profession,
  • being the “old guy” in the classroom with the severe mobility and writing impairments,
  • figuring out public transit,
  • traveling in an unfamiliar environment,
  • grocery shopping,
  • learning about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),
  • disability advocacy,
  • and connecting with so many cool people! 

I have no regrets moving to Houston to try something different.  Experience is the best way to LEARN!. Probably not efficient, but I learn best through experience.  I’m continuing to meet amazing people AND I happen to live next to the #1 cancer treatment and research center in the world, MD Anderson!  While it has been very humbling trying to start over with so many obstacles, I have found new interests and positioned myself to make a bigger impact in “Post-treatment Thrivership.”  Take home lesson:  Determine what you can’t do, then “Do the Hell” out of what you can do.   Thank you Susan Tortolero-Emery, Mary Ann Smith, Christine Markhan, Lex Frieden, Vinh Nguyen, Roxanne Funchess, the Mirs, the Scotts, the Villatuyas, the Jacksons, the future Paddocks, and all the cool people I’ve connected/re-connected with in Houston.  Maybe I’ll start blogging again about the new adventures in Houston…  Do people even blog anymore?