What’s Cooler Than Having 3 Brain Surgeries?

QUESTION: What’s cooler than having three brain surgeries?

ANSWER: Having three brain surgeries, and not having brain cancer anymore.

Hmm– that’s not exactly what I have in mind.  (Pun very much intended.)

Let’s try again:

QUESTION: What’s cooler than having three brain surgeries?

ANSWER: Having FOUR brain surgeries!

There we go!  I’m gonna go with that one!

Why?  Because today I found out that I’ve got a reason to get my skull cracked open for a personal-best  (and Peacock family record) fourth time!  That’s right folks– BRAIN SURGERY NUMBER FOUR!

Nuthin' Beats It!

 

Mind you, I’m not just doing this to show off (well, at least not only to show off).  I’m doing it because, well, I need a haircut.  And I prefer to get my hair cut in Beverly Hills.  I’m fancy like that.

Actually, earlier today my mother (who happens to be out here visiting for a week) looked at me with a wry smile and a subtle level of consternation and said “So what are you going to do about that hair?”  She is right– my hair is kind of a mess at the moment– but when she said this, I laughed out loud and said “Mom… why don’t we wait and see if I have to have brain surgery first.”

Turns out… I do!  Need both of those things.  A haircut, and brain surgery.  Two birds, one stone.  Boom!

Joking aside (or at least mostly aside) here’s the gist:

– Had an MRI today.  Have felt really (really) good of late, so I didn’t expect anything unusual.  But “unusual” in the world of glioblastoma being a relative term, what I found out today is that my much ballyhooed Brain Chance is back!  Or, more back, as it were, since it’s clearly been hanging out for three years now, just popping up now and then to remind everyone (except for me, because I tend to be conscious of this fact) that I have brain cancer.  Well how d’ya like that!

– The new Mini Tumor Piece (MTP) has appeared since my last MRI, two months ago.  It’s about a centimeter or so in size, and is located in the same hole in my head where all of the action has taken place thus far.  This is a good thing, where it is.  As Doctor Who said (I’ll take the liberty of paraphrasing, since that isn’t how he spells his name either): “This is pretty much exactly what you’d hope for, if you were hoping for something like this to happen.”

– Any respectful brain surgeon (and I find most brain surgeons to be, among many other things, eminently respectful) would scold me for saying this, but the particular surgery required to remove this New Chancey Growth (NCG) is somewhat of a fastball down the middle.  Which is to say, “easy” to hit out of the park, if you’re a good brain surgeon and not using a baseball bat.  Why?? How?? Well, I’ve already got a nice hinged door in my skull right there for them to go in and take it out (Wild West style, with a gap at the bottom for stray dogs and tumbleweeds to roll through), and my surgeon is already quite familiar with this region in my right front temporal lobe, having had his magical porcelain fingers in there two times already in less than three years.

– So I’m not 100% sure I’m going to have brain surgery soon (I could, after all, get hit by a bus tomorrow, thereby beating brain cancer and rendering further treatments irrelevant to my ongoing going), but I’m totally probably gonna have brain surgery.  Relatively soon.  Which brings me to the next point:

– There’s a fancy new clinical trial that hasn’t even started yet that coincidentally (or not, since this could all be a sham, just a creative writing exercise on my part performed to cheat my sister out of a reasonably meager inheritance), I just might be able to get into.  And not only that… NOT ONLY THAT!  But, well, a couple of things:

– I could be Patient #1 in said clinical trial.  Which means, The First Guy Ever To Get This Fancy Ass New Treatment For a Henceforth Mostly Untreatable Disease. (TFGETGTFANTFAHMUD)  Well how do you like THAT!? **

**(I like it a lot.   I am almost incomprehesibly lucky to have this option, or even any of these options.  And this is one big reason why you’ll rarely hear me complaining about any of this stuff that fate has bestowed upon me and my noggin.  I have options (with an S!), and in the world of glioblastoma, options barely exist 20 years ago.  I am one Cancerfully lucky sunuvagun.)

– This particular clinical trial involves some shit that’s so rad and futuristic that it would knock your socks off if you weren’t already reading this post in bed while wearing flip flops.  (Why are you wearing flip flops in bed?)  So what is it, you ask, as you sheepishly remove your flip flops and put them on the side table?  What is this Bitchinly Futuristic New Trial (BFNT)?

– It’s giving my brain a cold.  Literally.  Now if you watched that 60 Minutes piece a few months back where they injected polio into some guy’s brain who has glioblastoma, you may be familiar with The Hot New Trend™ (THNT™) in cancer therapies, which is modifying viruses that usually do shitty things to people to instead do awesome things to people, by doing shitty things to their cancer instead of them.  That’s kind of what this is.  But I’ll explain a bit more:

– In this particular trial, the idea is to inject a modified COLD VIRUS (not as cool as polio, but a lot more down-home and cozy) directly into my brain piece, right smack in the area where the brain chance is chancing it up.  Unlike the polio virus treatment, which uses a modified virus to actually attack the cancer cells themselves, this jigged-up cold virus is instead designed to invoke your own immune response.  In other words, it puts some shit in your brain that makes your immune system say “Hey look, let’s get in there and take care of that shit!” and makes it fly in in full force to attack and remove anything and everything that isn’t Good Old Fashioned Useful Brains (GOFUBs).  Now I know, you’d think your immune system should already be saying this about the fucking brain cancer that’s in there, but this is where the science gets a little fuzzy and hey I’ve had a long day it’s not my job to write clinical trial abstracts, it’s just my job to have brain cancer and not die from it for a surprisingly long time.  And also write about all of this to make people (myself included) feel better about Cancer! in general.

– So to round up: I’ve got more brain cancer, and since the most obvious way to get brain cancer out of your head is to get in there and physically remove it, that’s exactly what we (myself and my magically Cancerful Team at Cedars) plan on doing.  Hence brain surgery #4.  And since the clinical-trial-injecting-cold-virus-into-your-brain thing requires that you already have an actual opening in your skull big enough to get a turkey baster through, a convenient time to do the injection would be during an already-in-progress brain surgery.  Hence Brain Surgery #4.

– Right now they working to figure out if we can actually make all of this happen at the same time, so I don’t know if or when it’s all exactly going to happen.  There’s lots of medical and scientific and bureaucratic finagling required to get the trial up and running, so we (and by “we” I mean not really me but mostly those aforementioned Cancer Magicians at Cedars) are currently figuring out if it’s possible to make it all happen quickly enough.  (In the world of glioblastoma, “quickly” is loosely defined as “with as much haste as you can possibly fucking muster, since this shit grows real fast.”)

– If we can’t get the trial stuff ready quickly enough, there’s a possibility that I’ll just drop by Cedars for a Run-Of-The-Mill Get-The-Cancer-Out Brain Surgery (ROTMGTCOBS) some time in the next two weeks, and then go back later when the trial is ready and have a fifth brain surgery shortly on the heels of the fourth, just to get that cold into my head, and maybe cure my cancer.

–  Wait, did I just say a FIFTH brain surgery?

– I did.

– What’s cooler than having four brain surgeries?

– Nothing.  Having four brain surgeries is cool enough, so let’s start there and see what happens.

– Brain Surgery #4 time & date is yet to be determined– I’ll keep you posted on here as soon I have more details.  (What a cliffhanger!)

– Speaking of cliffhangers, this Cancerful Movie and Cancerful Foundation I’ve been working very hard on are going really really well, and I have no intention of letting any of the myriad brain surgeries I have coming in the coming weeks slow me down even one bit.  Well maybe one bit, but not any more bits than that.  Preferably only a half a bit.

– Since I don’t want to appear overly cavalier about all of this (I’m only mostly cavalier, and that’s just because I’m an idiot) I will now admit that YES, this is all scary.  And yes, it’s hard.  It’s really hard, in fact.  But I end this day mostly and honestly relieved and excited and above all thankful that there are people and ideas out there that allow a person with a Super Terminal Whopper Of A Disease (STWOAD) not only to keep living, but to keep living well.  And the gratitude and utter amazement I feel for all of that keeps me going.  And keeps me wanting to keep on going.  Man, what a ride this is.

And it isn’t even close to being over.

Good night!  I will see you all in the morning.

Carry Away, Carry On

I’ve been thinking a lot, and what I’ve thought is that… it’s a lot to think about.
Being an alive person in the world is a lot to think about.

For example I think, therefore I am.  But then what I think about that threatens to undermine the supposed simplicity of the original equation.  So what do I think?

There’s nothing simple about being.  And being able to think about being only makes it harder to be.

But then I was reading a book–a good book–and lost in the words of a world that had nothing yet everything to do with me, something profoundly calming occurred to me.  And this is what it was:

No matter the rich complexities of life; the deep chasms of emotion and relation and duty, burden, love or fear that afflict us, these things have all been felt and thought and done before.  Each time a different tune on the same string, but the same string no less, walked upon by a computer programmer, an archduke and a fishmonger, a tribal laughingstock and an early biped mother give born to the first child of a new human continent.

Those of us–all of us–who have and will have ever walked upright on bare feet through grass and looked down upon our living brethren (for the tops of our heads reach closer toward the sky!), all of us, every last one–every grandmother looking into the eyes of her progeny, every warrior into the eyes of him he was born to kill–we are all saddled with the same inexorable debt.  We are all, and have all been, shaped yet shaken to the core by the same infinite and unshatterable conundrum:

We know, and yet we know so little.

We understand, and yet we spend our days confused.

We fall upon fits of meaning, and then they crumble and fall away like grains, beads of water, or precious gems slipping through desperate cracks in the fingers of our otherwise majestically nimble and powerful hands.

And so we wreak, and are wrought.  We step solidly–and always loosely–into the same soil that has impressed and then obscured every single human footstep that came before us.  In this walk we are not, and never will be, alone.

For the same questions have preceded us, and will also follow us, so many countless times that their collective song resounds with loud and forceful permanence, while simultaneously dissipating into the particles of a great wind that both destroys and shapes us: a constant current of question and meaning, of mystery and understanding, which will forever carry us away, but still does, and always will, carry us on.