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brain cancer

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Introduction to My YouTube Vlog

I’m getting lazy in my old age, and resorting to video blogs to keep in touch.

Okay, I was just cracking a joke, but truth is, I’m having a harder and harder time expressing myself with written words. I can’t even think straight these days. I’m truly bone tired, and that’s why I barely write anymore.

Please note: My YouTube channel will have all the videos, but the BLOG will have all the various posts: video, written, guest, etc.

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Bus Bacteria Bad. Brain Bacteria Good.

Hey Guys, What is it about summer that causes it to go faster, and faster, and faster, until you lose your mind? Or get sick. I get sick every few years, and never in the summer, but lucky me, that’s exactly what just happened. I must have licked my fingers after touching things on the city bus or something. (Gross!) But life doesn’t stop when you get sick – kinda like cancer. I’m busy with gloriously fun things like promoting the MLD docu-series with interviews, corresponding with tumor patients/caregivers, and visiting with out-of-town friends, all peppered with doctor appointments. I’m not sleeping well because of headaches, which is a constant reminder of the fact that my brain tumor is growing again. I’m fine during the day, I’m so busy that I can’t even keep up, but at night, as soon as I’m vertical, the pressure in my head grows intense. It’s come to the point where I am back to relying on headache medicine. I hate having to do that. I’m grateful that my seizures have remained stable, though, which feels like a Christmas miracle. I like to think that the headaches are because I’m doing too much, trying to conquer too many things, maybe I’m not organized enough, anything but the mass of rogue cells multiplying in the folds of my brain. Last weekend I turned 36, and although birthday goals are a newer thing for me, I have it in my head that I want to live past age 40, and not be sporting a wheelchair/walker while I enjoy my cake (although decorating those items sound kind of awesome). That fear is based off of my horrible luck with brain surgeries. Granted the most recent one healed pretty well, but man if that second brain surgery didn’t give…

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Abbreviated 18f-DOPA PET Results

It’s a long story, and I’m pretty pooped, but here’s a basic overview. The “scan was concerning for active disease”. It really isn’t the biggest deal, it could have quadrupled in size. There’s still questions surrounding imaging possibly being effected by treatments – not likely, but I won’t rule it out, I’m always hopeful. We’re trying to decide what our next step is (stopping treatment, skipping treatment, adding treatment, etc.). I’m surprisingly pleased with the results. It’s not the best news. As our neurosurgeon says, “It’s trending toward recurrence”(there are two “nodules” they’re watching). She wanted surgery, but we asked for a little more time. I’m not ready for the risk. I’m too scared. If the area is worse in October, we will revisit our options which include the usual suspects: surgery, radiation, chemo, or a combination. Apparently even my happy kitty socks couldn’t save the day, but they made me and my TSA pat down lady happy, so there’s that. Sorry that I won’t be letting people know individually, but as you can imagine, it’s overwhelming to reach out to all you lovely friends, I’d be on my phone for hours. I’m hoping to give a better explanation about the situation in the coming days.

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Early Call

With a 1:30 am wake up call, I’m in bed and it’s just past seven. It was easy to head to bed since I can’t eat much anyway because of scan restrictions. No dairy, legumes, animal proteins, nuts, seeds, soy products – I can’t even remember all the restrictions so I focused on what I could eat, which is fruit and veg. I’m not hungry though, just physically exhausted. I can barely keep my eyes open because last night’s sleep was terrible – wide awake until 3:00 am. I had been fine for the last few weeks, my mental state has been a solid 8-10, but last night it hit me. It was inescapable. We have a scan in the morning that will show, with more than a 80% accuracy between necrosis, and recurrence or scar tissue. It’s a brilliant tool to have, but one that leaves little doubt, and really no denial either. At first, I thought this could go two ways. Tumor or no tumor. Then I started reminding myself that I won’t die of this tumor tomorrow, or next week, or even, heaven forbid this year. We’re playing the long game. It’s exhausting, but as you get to know the strategies, and learn from others, there are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of different combinations of treatments. I’m certainly not at the end of my rope, even though, sometimes it feels that way.  I don’t really want to do the scan because I don’t want to have brain cancer, but since I do, I might as well get some answers. I have no expectations; I have no premonitions. I have hopes that this blob has a maxSUV of under 3.0 (which to my understanding will not be considered recurrence), but there are factors out of our control, variables…

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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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Brain Tumor Movie: Volunteers

Many of you get the Musella Foundation newsletter in your email inbox, but for those of you who aren’t familiar you’ll find a link on my resources page with an explanation. (Or use the link here: http://www.virtualtrials.com) In the most recent blast, there was a film group looking for newly diagnosed brain tumor patients who would be willing to be filmed for a year or two to document their journey. They’re also looking for “survivors” (I’m so sick of that term), that can help share their tricks, and experiences, to provide hope, and perhaps even direction. Your browser does not support iframes. I’m not going to apply, I’m already overwhelmed with all of the tumor patients that I help on a daily basis. I realized the other day, I’ve been trying to help everyone else, putting myself last. I love helping people, I want to make life easier for them, I want to save them. I want to make it so that their diagnosis never happened. But it is at the expense of my health. I stop doing things to make myself healthy, to make myself feel good. I get depressed by all of these serious, heartbreaking stories. I’m not cut out to handle all of this sadness, all of this stress. It’s caused me to emotionally eat, I’ve gained weight, I’m not focusing on what’s best for my body – barely exercising. There’s too much stress. Imagine, that not only are you dealing with your own diagnosis, but you handle tens of others. And people don’t come to me when things are good, they come to me at their worst (their mom, their daughter, their son, their father, their wife, their husband) are just diagnosed, or they’re in the midst of a recurrence. They’re terrified, and confused. I handle around…

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Cancer Convos: Episode 2 Fertility

I have been dragging my feet a little bit on posting Episode 2 of Cancer Convos with Crush & Coconuts, for two reasons: 1. We recorded the episode 45 minutes after a seizure that really wiped me out, so my drugged up and exhausted state is cringeworthy. 2. It’s a very personal, very raw video that is clearly difficult for me to open up out. As you know I emote, and share in written form – to expose myself in a video is much more intimidating. There’s no way to hide your face, the tone of your voice, the tears. I don’t even remember recording, as I blackout after seizures, usually not remembering anything for at least 24 hours afterward so essentially, I’m watching this new with you. Without further adiau, please enjoy our experiences with fertility as it concerns with cancer. And as always, if you have anything to add, please post comments so that others can learn from your experience. I always love comments on my blog posts, but I imagine the most beneficial place would be on the YouTube channel episode. Thank you for watching! 🙂

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A Letter to Joe Biden

I just received an email from a brain tumor caregiver about a post he wrote and it is the most eloquent explanation as to why our clinical trial system is failing us as patients. He precisely explains everything I think, and exactly how I feel. It needs no further introduction. If you haven’t seen Surviving Terminal Cancer the documentary, as he references in the letter, please, please click to see it: WATCH THE DOCUMENTARY HERE. And Logan, you are a rockstar! Thank you! Your browser does not support iframes. Patients, people, are dying! Until we find a way (and I’m guilty of not figuring out how of solve this problem) to take control of the system of how we treat brain cancer, we will continue to die at a 99% death rate. I may not be a good organizer, but I am willing to do whatever I can to get the message out. To work for the cause in a meaningful way. There is so much money wasted on things that don’t help us right now, in this moment. I’m sick of wasting money on awareness, on talk. We need to push legislation through to give patients the opportunity to try promising drugs and treatments. We are given no hope, because the things that could help us are tied up in bureaucracy and it will take years even decades to have access. And during that process, many treatments get dropped because they won’t make enough money – not because they don’t have efficacy. I am sharing this Letter to Joe Biden to help spread the word of Logan Lo, about his courageous wife. I don’t know how to do it, but we need to mobilize the brain cancer movement in order to gain traction. The AIDS activism, with ACT UP,…

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Last Chance

What if today was your last chance? That’s the question I ruminated over on the 31st, as I ran a last minute, last chance, half marathon with my buddy Jules. I hadn’t trained, but you guys know me – I’m always up for a challenge, and I’m not great at longterm planning. Jules had come up with an idea, a dare if you will, to run a half marathon every month for 2016. But of course, 12 half marathons in 12 months wasn’t enough, we had to do a pre-half marathon, a literal last minute half marathon on the final day of 2015. My longest run in the past year has been around 3 miles. A half marathon is 13.1 miles. A gross difference. With my track record of race mishaps, this one was no exception. In fact, if I made New Year resolutions, it would be to pay closer attention at races. So, of course Jules and I needed to use the bathroom before we took off for the race, so as others were stretching, jogging in place, and getting ready for the start, we trailed the end of the bathroom line. As the line was halfway through, the race started. By the time we made it out of the stalls, everyone had taken off. So when we started running, we didn’t know which direction to head. My instincts in these races are solid 100% off, knowing that, you can guess that we ran in exactly the opposite direction of the path. By the time we figured out where to go and redirected, we were 15-20 minutes late from the starting gun. It was 21 degrees, and icy in Bellingham, and I hadn’t been running outside at all, but the second my legs started moving, I was bouncing and…

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