Thank You

There was a doctor in the hospital in Hong Kong I met with only once; he was the resident neurooncologist (brain cancer doc, the equivalent of my current Doctor Who) and he came to see me in my hospital room just out of courtesy to answer some questions I had raised about the treatments I would be doing once I returned to the States.

He was a short, handsome man with a neat beard, black rimmed glasses and an owlish face (if only his name could have been Doctor Who!), and he had this wonderful proper English accent with sprinkles of un-posh regionalisms that betrayed both his schooling and the guys he probably hung around with at uni in England.  I liked him immediately because of this– here was a guy who cared about curing cancer of the brain but who also cared about just being a regular guy.  A good combination, I think.

I said I met with him only once, which is true, but when I was leaving the hospital on my very last day I happened to see him waiting by the elevator I was about to take down.  I was thrilled, because even though I had only seen him that once, I’d wanted to thank him and say goodbye to him.  But he was speaking on his cell phone as we both entered the elevator, and I was probably disappointed but also relieved that I didn’t have to bother him and think of something intelligent to say that would take up a whole elevator ride.  He recognized me and nodded with a smile.

I listened to him chatting on his phone in Cantonese as the elevator went down, and when it stopped on his floor something happened that I’ll never forget– something that I can’t believe how many times I’ve thought of since that moment.

The elevator doors opened, he closed his cell phone, put it in his pocket, and as he walked out he turned back and looked at me and said one thing:

“Good luck, mate.”

He smiled and gave a confident nod, and the doors closed and that’s the last time I saw him.

I can’t tell you how much that tiny little gesture meant to me.  How much hope it gave me.  How it was exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right moment.  I really trusted this guy, I really respected him, and he knew way more than I did about my Chance, my chances, and the terrifying gauntlet of treatments I had ahead of me.  But his face showed me only confidence, and kindness.  I’ve never been wished good luck and had it mean anything.  But this time it meant everything.

So thank you, Owl-Faced Doctor With Cool Accent Who Gave Me Hope.

And thank you, my wonderful parents, for being the fountain from which this wonderful life sprung, this life I’ve been so fortune to live, this life I’ve enjoyed so much and hope to be lucky enough to continue for a long time to come.  Thank you for being the rock that has always supported and guided me even when I thought I was far off on my own.

And thank you to my sister, for being my big sister when I needed it most, suddenly and very unexpectedly, at the age of 36.

Thank you to everyone who didn’t know what to say or ask but thought of something anyway, because there never is a right or wrong thing to say.  The fact that you’re there and that you care and that you’re trying is enough.  It’s not just enough– it’s everything.  The support of my friends and my family and the people I haven’t even met or haven’t seen in 15 years– it means everything.  I utterly absolutely can not imagine having to go through this without that unspeakably wonderful cushion of love and hope that you have given me.    All those times you wonder if it really means anything when you say things to people like “good luck” or “it’ll be fine” or “you’re gonna do great!” — I can tell you from a very intense host of recent first hand experiences that it means the goddamn world.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me, whether it was helping me make my neurosurgeons laugh up or bringing me dumplings in the ICU or running errands or giving me rides or delivering flowers or yummy meals to my house when I could barely peel my face off the floor.  Or just keeping me company.  Thank you so much for keeping me company.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the Piece of Mind fund, I can’t even tell you how much it is helping to reduce the anxiety and stress and burden of keeping my life afloat while I am simultaneously trying to keep my actual life afloat.

Thank you all for being patient with me when I couldn’t or just didn’t want to answer the same questions over and over again.  On that note, thank you for reading this blog.

And if you are reading this blog (or even if you’re not but should be ; ) thank you for being the bulk of the light and the wonder and the laughter and the beauty in this staggering, joyous life that I am trying very hard to hold on to.

I’ve always thought that the world is a mind-bogglingly beautiful place, but you’ve all gone and shown me that, all this time, it was five to seven times more mind-boggly than I even realized.

This whole time, before I even knew it, before I even knew I needed it, you’ve been there for me.

Thank you for that.  For everything.  I love you all.

Take a brainchance and stick THIS in your armpit!

So it’s too bad I wasn’t diagnosed with this most aggressive form of brain cancer a few months earlier, or I totally could have made it onto the Sanjay Gupta, MD show on CNN.

This story just aired a few days ago–  it’s a profile on the experimental clinical trial that I’m currently enrolled in and that you better all be crossing your fingers I’m receiving instead of a lame unvoodoo’d placebo of witch hazel and Sparks Energy Drink.  (To this end, feel free to make highly “suggestive” {breathy and/or aggressive} middle of the night phone calls to the people at ImmunoCelluar Theraputics, Ltd.)*

*OK, I’m kidding about that– please let them focus on curing brain cancer.  I’m willing to play my chancey part in this whole roll-of-the-life-dice game; it’s the only way these trials can work.  But seriously, if you know any major shareholders…

Here’s the video (apologies for making you sit through the commercial).  This was all shot in the very same rooms where I get my armpits needled!  The is MY brain zone–  the Johnnie L Cochran, Jr. Brain Tumor Center at Cedars Sinai (yes, that’s really what it’s called).

Did you catch that adorable guy with the Sonic the Hedgehog haircut?  That’s Almar, the nurse who sticks those needles into my armpits.  I’ve been emailing with him since I was in the hospital in Hong Kong.  He is a true Brain Guardian, and very gentle with armpit injections in case you need to get any.

Unfortunately Doctor Hu doesn’t make an appearance, but his colleague (Johnnie Cochran’s brain surgeon) Dr. Keith Black makes a solid appearance.  Dr. Keith Black is one of the coolest people on the planet.  He’s the Pete Rose of brain surgeons– no one has sliced up more brains than this guy, unless there’s a zombie Julia Child.   How many brains has he sliced, you ask?  Oh, somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000.

Five thousand!

Point is, I’ve got a good team.  No offense to the wonderful folks in Kowloon, but I’m very grateful that the JLCJRBTC@CS just happened to be less than 4 miles from my house.  Talk about a brain chance.

Now let’s just hope this voodoo does the trick and I can appear on CNN 20 years from now (along with that lady and her kids) talking about how crazy it was back in 2012 when people were still scared of brain cancer.

That would be nice.

Shit– I make it that far, I’d even consider doing it on Fox News.