Last Thursday was Cinco de Mayo. Instead of downing Coronas and Modelos and explaining that the holiday is in fact not Mexican Independence Day, I was celebrating life in Minnesota. I’ve written this story in my head hundreds of times. It’s definitely evolved. I’ve told a few people along the way and I even shared publicly (to a certain extent) via this channel. I am finally putting it on paper and it feels good.
I entered the lobby and looked up at the TV. A Bob Marley documentary was playing. I took it as a sign. That ordinary, terrifying moment will stick with me forever. It validated what I already knew deep down inside. “I have a brain tumor.”
Earlier that day I had my very first MRI. I spent my hours at the office stressing and surfing the web for everything brain tumor related. I read descriptions of various symptoms, clinical studies that were beyond my understanding, heart wrenching blog posts, treatment options, Yahoo forums dedicated to supplement and diet plans etc. I came across a list of public figures with brain cancer — a list that included Bob Marley. The story goes that he refused to have surgery because it meant having his dreads shaved off.
I was freaking out during the days leading up to the MRI. My roommate thought that I was crazy for thinking the worst. My boss told me to stop looking at the Internet. The doctor insisted that I was fine. But my intuition told me that I had a tumor.
After the diagnosis, I went on cross-country medical tour. I was lucky to visit the best hospitals to get several opinions: Dana Farber, Sloan Kettering, John Hopkins, Duke, MD Anderson, Cedars-Sinai, and Mayo Clinic. While some renowned neuro-onclogists and neurosurgeons recommended that I get a biopsy as soon as possible and even speculated treatment options (radiation and chemotherapy), others advocated a more conservative approach, waiting and watching. I felt most comfortable at Mayo Clinic. My intuition also told me it wasn’t growing.
Fast-forward six years and I am still here. The tumor hasn’t grown at all and I have not undergone any treatment. Last week, on Cinco de Mayo I had my most recent MRI. After getting the good news, I told my new doctor a bad joke, “Happy Cinco de Mayo Clinic!” She cracked up.
This is more of a teaser than a diagnosis story. It’s missing the lead up, the actual diagnosis and my initial reaction. I will get to that.
May is brain cancer awareness month and I felt compelled to share this piece. I look forward to sharing my experience doing magnetic therapy with a Shaman couple in Mexico, about the award-winning doctor at a hospital in Boston dozing off (standing up, no less) while we spoke about my tumor, my obsessive diet/supplement plan and not shaving for 5 months.
Brain tumors and brain cancer patients are often overlooked and do not get the attention and support that they deserve. The brain is complex and depending on the location of a tumor, the symptoms can vary tremendously. It controls basic body functions likes breathing, it affects one’s personality, sleep quality, appetite and so on.
I’ve gone back and forth about writing a blog called Hit By a Gray Bus. What’s in the name? Gray matter. Gray is the color of brain tumor awareness. People often respond to finding out about someone’s potentially life threatening illness by saying “I could get hit by a bus tomorrow.”
Cue a Chris Rock quote:
“You know, some people say life is short and that you could get hit by a bus at any moment and that you have to live each day like it’s your last. Bullshit. Life is long. You’re probably not gonna get hit by a bus. And you’re gonna have to live with the choices you make for the next fifty years.”
I want to leverage my marketing skills and written pieces to help others on relatable journies and bring more attention to brain tumors and the organizations dedicated to finding brain cancer cures, providing practical and clinical information, and creating a support system for survivors.
Thanks for reading.