I Turned 39 Because I Am Alive

Yesterday, I turned 39 years old. The major reason for this is that I am still alive.

Here’s a heartening fact for those of you with glioblastoma (since, if you have it, heartening facts are unusually difficult to come by):

I can tell you with absolute certainty that it is possible to be four (4!) different ages with this kind of brain cancer!

How do I know this? Because I have now officially had glioblastoma at 36, 37, 38, AND 39 years of age. It’s true!  Now, this may sound surprising to those of you who know me (I know me, and it just surprised me myself). If your math and memory are reasonably sharp, you may now be thinking “Wait, has he really had it for FOUR YEARS?”

The answer to that question is, no. I haven’t. I’ve had it for 2.75 years. I was just twisting the numbers to make it sound more impressive–

Wait, 2.75 years?! That’s 33 months! That’s more than TWICE the Median Survival Rate for this, The World’s Most Dangerous Brain Cancer! And I’m doing pretty good! I can run, I can write, I can dance, I can play old-timey piano… wait, I can’t play old-timey piano. But I can see!

See, yesterday I didn’t care that much about turning 39. I was a little down-in-the-dumps and tired and wasn’t having the best day, and I didn’t think much of my birthday-big-whoop. But now I’m realizing that the 36, 37 and 38 year-old versions of me would have been really fucking psyched to know for sure that they were going to turn 39.

I just caught myself taking a birthday for granted! What an asshole!

It isn’t always easy, not taking things for granted. For example, I probably just breathed like 132 breaths in the last couple of minutes without not taking every one of them for granted. What a breath-wasting jerk! So you know what I’m gonna do right now, as I sit here typing this at the Doylestown Public Library and admiring the totally reasonable suburban view out the window that includes some cute little lady walking two dogs– wait that looks like my dog — wait that IS my dog, who’s that fuckin’ lady — oh that’s my mom! Hi mom!

Anyway, here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna close my eyes, since I’m clearly very easily distracted by the goings on outside this window, and I’m gonna sit back, and I’m gonna take a big, deep breath, and I’m NOT gonna take it for granted.  Like crazy.  And then maybe I’ll like being alive more.  OK here goes, ready?…


OK that just made me a little dizzy. But it was great! And it also made me laugh. So that’s good! I totally like life a little bit more than I did a mere 10 minutes ago! Weeee!  (NOOOOO moldy librarian lady, I’m not a crazy 39-year-old well-dressed hobo meditating and laughing and talking to himself at the back table, I have brain cancer and I just really enjoyed the shit out of a single breath so stop staring at me and actually you’re kinda foxy here’s my phone number, OK?)

Where were we?

Oh yeah, not taking things for granted. Appreciating the heck out of stuff. Like my 39th birthday! Shit it’s too late that was yesterday…

OK so what, you know what?  I now officially un-take my 39th birthday for granted!

And I hope to heck-and-cancer that I turn 40, because man, now that would really be somethin’ else.

22 thoughts on “I Turned 39 Because I Am Alive

  1. Ray and I wish you much happiness and good health as you enter your 40th year. I hope you get to enjoy your 70th year (as I am) as well. Happy Birthday, Chad.

  2. I feel so connected to you. Happy birthday, young cousin. You make the everyday moments leap. I smell the sweet potatoes baking….I love your mom. Her mom and my mom were cousins and they stayed in touch.

  3. Good deal! Always love reading your thoughts. It may have been exposed to the atmosphere a couple three times, but it is still a good mind.

  4. So happy to hear you are alive and kicking out such great writing! Love your sense of humour, or as I used to say when I had cancer – your sense of tumor! I was diagnosed with cancer at age 36 and cried like a baby at my 40th birthday party….then at my wedding when I was 42….Still grateful every day as I approach my 45th year! Sending you much love and laughter and whatever else you need xx Georgia

  5. Happy Birthday. This is certainly one to celebrate. As I read your post I was (and am) in bed in excruciating pain and fear. You have reminded me and your other readers to appreciate every minute of life.
    We have one other thing in common besides illness. I am from Newtown, Pa and now live in LA. I am not a foxy, young librarian but would be happy if we could meet someday for coffee or whatever. I feel like I know you and I have a lot of respect for you. (And no I’m not a crazy stalker, before my illness my work was as a psychotherapist.).
    Take good care,
    Marcie Fisher

  6. Yeah!! Happy birthday. Can you eventually send me your address. So I can send you something.

    Greetings from Austria. Skiing.



  7. So happy to be reading your posts. I was worried until Aunt Lynn told me you were doing well. My New Year’s wish for you is….. to read your next year’s birthday report.
    Stay strong and be well. Hugs to Dutch da Dog.

  8. Hurrah for being here to berate yourself for taking a birthday for granted, and hurrah for being wise enough to catch yourself doing it. I was charged to see your post, and very glad to read your words. I send wishes for a 40th year that contains all kinds of amazing experiences, heavily spiced with joy and contentment, and much, much love.
    May 2015 continue to bring small miracles, and may you continue to be a statistical anomaly, as all the best folks are.

    love Kathleen & the Robins Family, whom you have never met, but who hold you in their hearts and hopes.

  9. buddy-we have this GBM journey in common I’m one brainsurgery behind you and I haven’t been poked in the armpit with clinical trials but you’ve taught me so much along the way and made me laugh and feel a little less alone since my 1st craniotomy in May 2013. Or it was it 2012?Every post I read multiple times and sometimes share since you have such a gift expressing what I can’t. carry on young wordsmith! God has given you a gift and in spite of all you’ve gone through its well preserved and of great benefit. until next time… Your far away brain cancer fighting friend.

  10. Hi Chad! Happy belated birthday! Finding your blog has been great! I’m also a “brain chance” person. Always wonderful to see positive people posting things with a sense of humor! 🙂

  11. I meant to wish you a happy birthday and a thrilling new year at the proper time, but I think I was reading your post on my phone and getting too darn distracted as usual. Regardless, you continue to amuse and inspire, and I always look forward to your writing whenever you have time for it. For my birthday in November – maybe a few days or weeks after a positive, quarterly, MRI – I think I’ll swipe your headline (linking to you of course:-) and just change 39 to 49. And I’m really, really looking forward to your big FOUR-OH and my big FIVE-OH, Chad … Take care …

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