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April 2016

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UW Results

As always, we have to confirm with UCLA, but the preliminary findings of my MRI is stable. The FLAIR signal in the tumor cavity is slightly increased. However there is no enhancement, and no new nodular area. There’s a venus abnormality that they’ve been watching, but I’m not too concerned about it. All-in-all a great scan. I had been terrified, even convinced that there would be a new lesion, since I’ve been eating horribly, including a 20 lb weight gain – pure sugar. I’ve always equated excess calories as food for the tumor so the fact that there isn’t obvious tumor growth is a freaking miracle. Apparently diet isn’t the end-all-be-all of cancer growth. (I’m sure it matters, but who knows how much, and for which cancers, and which people?) I’m obviously relieved, and can now focus on treating myself well because I want to. I can exercise, and eat right, because it’s fun, not because I’m scared and feel responsible. I had been punishing myself, even daring the cancer to come back and prove me right. I know that sounds disgusting, and selfish. I felt that when I get good results, when I succeed, I still watch my friends get sicker. So if I have a good scan, I lose. And if I have a bad scan, I lose. I lose either way. I feel guilty being “heathy”, even though cancer has taken so much from me. From us.  It’s really hard to be fearless in this situation, and very hard to not get stuck. It’s time for me to stop punishing myself for success, for my good fortune and hard work. I don’t know how to manifest that, to forgive myself for being alive, for being able to mow the lawn just now. That guilt has no place,…

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Seizure Help

Hey Friends,Here’s the deal, I talk to a lot of brain tumor patients, and caregivers, about seizures. And although none are the same, there are often similarities, and definitely tricks. Even though each person’s situation is unique, there is almost always overlap. Last night I received an email from a caregiver about his wife’s seizures – a GBM patient. She switched from Keppra to valproic acid and vipmat several months ago, and had been fine, then twice in the past week she has had seizures. Each time she is forced back into the hospital is a major setback. She loses more weight (her weight is hovering in the 70’s ), and becomes weaker. In corresponding, I asked him if I could bring it up for discussion on the blog, hoping that people could share their successes and failures to help troubleshoot. I feel bad because I’ve talked to so many of you about these issues, the side effects, the trial and error of seizure drugs, the specific triggers, but I can’t remember everything that you all have said. Would you be so kind to share, even anonymously? I know it would be a huge help.I remember when a caregiver told me that he gets his wife’s blood levels checked regularly to make sure that her seizure meds are at the correct levels, not too high nor too low. When I heard that I was floored. I had no idea that your blood levels could be checked, or that every body metabolizes drugs differently. That it doesn’t have to be trial and error, and it doesn’t have to be a shot in the dark. The more we talk the more we know what to ask for, and how to help ourselves.So if you could please share and answer as many of these…

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Four Days of Freedom

The MRI is on Saturday, and with it comes phantom headaches, throbbing in the tumor cavity, dizziness, ravenous cravings, nausea, sweaty nights jumping up from bed. The usual paranoia. I’ve been hiding for months, pretending I never got diagnosed. Pretending I could do whatever I wanted, eat whatever I wanted, drink whatever I wanted, live the way I wanted. And now I have to face the reality of whatever is going on in my brain.  Which is nothing.  (Right?) MRI is scheduled for this Saturday. Guess we’ll find out about deez noodles. A video posted by Jessica Oldwyn (@happy_coconuts) on Apr 11, 2016 at 4:18pm PDT ………I still don’t want to do it.

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Guest Blog Series – Lone Wolf

Several days ago, a girlfriend shared a brilliant idea with me. She said, “What about guest blog posts?” It came as a solution to share other people’s stories since I get sick of writing about me. You’d normally never hear about any of these folks because unlike me, there are people who fear repercussions from being honest about their diagnosis. And sadly, from the stories that I’ve heard, their often not wrong. Once we know something about a person, we can’t un-know it. And that becomes an issue regarding employment; our stories change how we are viewed.  You guys know me, I have no filter (or a very weak one), and I just speak. But there are times when I’ve regretted writing this blog. It’s rare, but it happens, and it’s because I know that the interwebs are eternal. If I apply for a job, there is no hiding my story. I can’t disguise what I’ve gone through, the deficits I deal with. For certain lines of work, it’s unappealing for employers to hire cancer patients, especially depending on the specific diagnosis, and prognosis. It’s just a fact. Anyway, I reached out to one of my tumor friends, one who is living in solitude with her diagnosis.  My goal in sharing these stories is several fold. I want patients to have an outlet, to express themselves anonymously. I want to give a voice to different stories so that people learn the dynamics of disease. I wish life was easier, that we could all share our truths openly, but if we can’t, at least we can have a format to do that here. I have no idea if there will be others who would be interested in sharing. I really hope there will be more patients, caregivers, family members, friends, etc….

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