Show us your scans!

I’m starting to feel a little objectified.  It’s like, no matter what I want to talk about, people are always trying to get me to show them my scans.  As if they were the only attractive thing about me.  I mean, they’re just scans.  I’ve got SO much more to offer than my stupid MRI results!

(You know, these babies.  I admit, they are pretty sweet…)

August 2014 MRI

(Do they look too big? Are they distracting?  Should I cover them up more?)

Because listen… what I really wanted to talk about today was the idea that all this renewed interest in cancer cell metabolism has a lot of potential, and is really probably neither a silver bullet nor the pseudo-science that some people–

Ahem.

AHEM!

Excuse me!  Are you even reading what I’m writing?  Or are your eyes still fixated on–
Hey!  STOP STARING AT MY SCANS!!


OK.  You back with me?  Thank you.  Don’t make me cover them up, please.

Sometimes I just want to use this blog to have a nice conversation, without everybody foaming at the mouth over “what happened with your MRI Chad!?”  and “tell us about your MRI Chad!”

Can’t we do that?  Can’t we just talk about what I want to talk about sometimes?  And sometimes I don’t want to talk about MRI’s.  Sometimes I need to take a break from thinking about–

[PHONE BEEPS]

“Hey Chad! Show us your scans!!

Ugh.  So much for that idea.  Alright, FINE!  Here you go…

IMG_9762

Big enough for you??

I mean, I know how important MRI’s seem.  How hard it can be to stop thinking about them.
Sometimes I find myself staring at them, even though they’re my scans.

Me and My Spine

That’s one pretty hot scan, if I may say so myself.

But seriously, they’re just scans.  They’re not that exciting.  I mean, personally, there are a lot of things I find more interesting and exciting than the results of my latest MRI.  For example, all the wonderful things we’re doing with the Cancerful Foundation!  (We’re curing cancer, for godssakes!  One moment at a time!)

But seriously, what’s the big whoop with the MRI’s!?  Why is everybody always so worried about the MRI’s?

Oh wait I know!  It’s because it’s the best way to figure out if I’m gonna die!

Right!?

I realize this is putting it very bluntly, but it’s true!  I mean– people don’t worry about MRI scans because it tells them if they can get a better deal on their car insurance.  It’s about death!

Well, this makes more sense to me now.  I guess if it’s about death, then that seems like a reasonable thing to be worried about.

But waaaaait a second… there’s still something that I don’t get:

Don’t we already know that I’m gonna die?

I’m not actually asking you that– I guess I’m just looking for confirmation.  Because it was my understanding (and I was pretty good in science class) that I definitely am going to die.  I’m pretty sure I’m right about that.  Right?

Yeah!  I’m totally gonna die!  I mean, we all are!
(And I’m pretty sure I’m right about that too.)

So what the hell are we all worried about!?  It’s like– The Most Foregone Of All Conclusions!  I mean, we don’t know when it’s gonna happen, but it’s gonna happen at some p–

Oh.

Wait a second.

That’s what this is all about.  When.

It’s the when that we’re worried about.

OK good– I think I’m figuring this out:
So, everybody’s knows that we’re all going to die– me especially– we just don’t know when it’s going to happen.  And we don’t like not knowing when, because we don’t like surprises when it comes to death.  And  this is where the scans come in!  Because if we can see it coming, then…

Then what?

Then we’ll be better prepared for it?

But if we’ve already agreed that we already know that it’s going to happen, then why aren’t we already prepared for it?

I know why– because we don’t want to think about it.

This frustrates me, because I don’t have a choice– I have to think about it.  A lot.  And not because I particularly love or am fascinated by the subject of death– I have to think about it simply because I have to spend so much of my time every day doing all sorts of things to avert it.
It’s kind of a full time job for me, avoiding death.  I guess technically it’s a full-time job for all of us (it’s why we eat, after all 😉 ) it’s just a little more obvious (and less delicious) when you’re Cancerful.  There’s a lot more pills.  And surgeries.  And scans.

I’m sorry this post has taken such a turn for the morbid, but morbidity has kind of been following me around for the last four years.  And sometimes it’s just nice to talk about it.  And maybe make a few jokes about it.  Because it’s there anyway– we’ve all agreed on that– so why not?

I have a sneaking suspicion that talking about things, and joking around about things, makes it easier to accept things.  And accepting things makes it easier to not worry about things.  And not worrying about things gives you more time in your day to do fun things.  Like ice skating.  And eating cookies.  Or ice skating and eating cookies at the same time!

 

 

 

But I’ve gotten off track.  (I tend to do that.)  Here I am talking about death and ice skating and cookies, when really what you come here for is Inspiration and MRI results!  And I haven’t given you either.

So how ’bout I cut to the cancerful chase, and give you both!  Right now!  OK, here goes!


My last MRI was… Hmm.  Honestly, I don’t remember much about it.
And I swear I’m not just trying to play it cool, like some kind of Charlie “Cool Cucumber” Peacock.
(Although that would be a hell of a name.  With hilarious initials.)

Nor am I just trying to build suspense, or piss you off (even though I’m aware I may now be doing a little of both).  Honestly, I just…  wait, what were we talking about again?

August 2014 MRI

the MRI, dummy.

Oh!  The MRI!  Right.

Honestly, I don’t remember much about it.
Really!  I don’t even remember when it was!

All of which is to say that:
A) After 4 brain surgeries (or is it 5?), my memory isn’t what it used to be.  And…
B) The MRI itself was unmemorable.  I do at least remember that.

Now that is some epic beating around the bush!
But really– the MRI was unmemorable because it wasn’t much different than the one before it.
It was stable, in other words.
And with brain cancer, stability is a really good thing.  So it was good!

So there you have it in plain terms:  MY LAST MRI WAS GOOD!

“Hooray!”  You say.

Hooray indeed!

So why didn’t I say “HOORAY!!!” on here when I had the MRI?  (It was kind of a long time ago, now that I think about it.)  Why the hell didn’t I post a picture of me with fireworks shooting out of my two upward-pointing thumbs,  surrounded by a Celebratory Chorus Line of  Leggy Blue Brains, like this one:

a C.C.L. of D.B.B.'s

a C.C.L. of L.B.B.’s

Well first of all… it would have been a difficult photoshop job.  (Although, if anyone wants to give it a shot I promise to post the results along with the results of my next MRI.  As long as both are good, obviously.)

But let’s face it– I didn’t need to post a ridiculous picture of myself with a C.C.L. of L.B.B.’s.
I could have just posted the word “GOOD!” and been done with it– everyone would have been satisfied and super happy. (Alright, maybe the word “GOOD” with fireworks shooting out of the G.  Feel free to add that to the image, Photoshoppers.)

But I didn’t even do that.

So what the hell is my problem?  Why do I have such a hard time being super enthusiastic and fireworky about good MRI results?  What am I trying to be, some kind of C.C.C.P., starring in my own primetime animated network special, “You’re One Cool ©ancer ©uring Cucumber, Charlie Peacock” !?

As awesome as those initials are (even better with the Cancerful ©’s), and as much as I would love to have a primetime animated network special about curing cancer in a really ©OOL way, I swear I am not trying to be a C.©.©.C.
So don’t start calling me Charlie “C.©.©.C.” Peacock (or even “C.C.©.©.C.P.”, for short.)

Because I was happy that the MRI results were good.  Fireworks did not shoot out of my thumbs, and there were no dancing brains (as far as I could see, at least) but I was happy.

Actually, I think a better word for what I felt was “relieved“…

Relieved that I don’t have to have any more brain surgeries– for at least two more months!  (Two months, brain surgery-free?  I’ll take it!)
• Definitely relieved that I won’t (for now) be subjected to any more weird experimental treatments, that might save my life, but might also put me in the hospital three times because they’re so hard-core at attacking my cancer that they also attack the shit out of me.  (That happened.  And it sucked.  I mean, come on!  Cut it out!  I’m trying to get better here, not worse!)
• Honestly, I was above all relieved that I would have more time to get used to where I’m currently at– to the latest version of “My New Normal.”  We’ll call it  “My Newest Normal,”  and while it’s still pretty shitty (as I hinted at in my last post), it is tolerable enough that given time, I could see myself continuing to shape a pretty decent life despite its pretty shitty conditions.  I think I can transform this Newest Normal into a wonderfully Cancerful Life!  (That would be a good thing, in case you weren’t sure.)

So yes– I’m happy about the MRI results.  Happy that I’m not going to die.  Yet!  And maybe not for a long time!

 

And one important note on the MRI thing:  I really do appreciate people caring enough to ask me about my scans, because they want to know how I am doing.  I don’t meant to make light of that.  But I wanted to talk about MRIs, and I thought the “Show us your scans!” joke was a funny way in.  (Would’ve been funnier if I had breast cancer instead of brain cancer.)  And when I mentioned this subject to a Cancerful friend of mine, she urged me to write about it.  Because, as it turns out, this is kind of a common issue for Cancerful people.

So there you have it!  We, the Cancerful, are more than the sum of our MRI’s.  We ourselves sometimes struggle to remember that our lives aren’t just what happens to take place between scan days–  they are our lives!

So this is why I try not to get that excited about my MRI’s– good or bad– and why I don’t immediately post the results on here.

Speaking of which, it took me so long to get around to telling you what happened on my last one, that my next one is… TODAY!  If there’s anything interesting or important to report, I will post about it here.

If you don’t hear from me for two weeks, or two months, that’s because I’m busy ice skating and eating cookies at the same time…

Name That Disease!

I’m a big proponent of NOT looking for medical advice on the Internet.
Even though I’m aware that many of the people who find this blog find it because they are doing exactly that.
(In fact, the most popular search that leads people to the Brain Chancery is “How would you know if you had a brain tumor?”)
Somebody thinks they have a brain tumor, and this is where the Internet sends them.  How terrifying is that!  (It certainly makes me an even stronger proponent of not looking for medical advice on the Internet…)

Anyway, despite my misgivings about the Internet’s reliability when it comes to medical advice (It said I would be dead in 14 months– nice try, Internet!), I recently found myself ignoring my own advice and scanning through a bunch of websites, looking for information on a weird medical condition I thought I might have.  And  when I say “weird medical condition,” I’m actually not talking about brain cancer– I already know I have that.  (And I already know enough about it– there isn’t much the Internet would be able to tell me about what it’s like to have a Brain Chance.)

No, so the weird medical condition I was searching for information on is called *******’* ******** (NAME REDACTED SO OTHER PEOPLE WHO THINK THEY HAVE *******’* ******** DON’T WIND UP FINDING THIS BLOG BY ACCIDENT, THINKING IT MIGHT HELP THEM.  BECAUSE WE CERTAINLY WOULDN’T WANT THAT.)

And as it turns out, having *******’* ******** would totally explain a lot of the strange symptoms I’d been experiencing.  And these were symptoms that probably had nothing to do with brain cancer.

Stretch marks, for example.

“Stretch marks?!?” I’d find myself almost saying out loud as I looked with disgust at my newly (and oddly) fat belly, sitting atop newly (and oddly) skinny legs.  “How the hell did I get stretch marks!?

It was a real mystery.  I mean, I had clearly put on some weight over the preceding months, thanks to the medication I was on (as well as the fact that I could barely tie my shoes, let alone go running).

But I hadn’t put on that much weight!  So how the hell did I end up with stretch marks!?  Even my friend who is seven months pregnant doesn’t have stretch marks!
(POINT OF CLARIFICATION SO SHE DOESN’T KILL ME:  She is not fat.  At all.  But she has a human being growing inside her belly!  And still, no stretch marks!)

As it turns out (and as my doctor confirmed, since I certainly wasn’t going to just take the Internet’s word for it), these kind of stretch marks are called abdominal striae, and they are a very common symptom of *******’* ********.
And so were a bunch of the other weird things I’d been experiencing, like the dry skin, and that oddly fat belly sitting atop those weirdly skinny legs.
(They call this “central obesity,” and if you’re smart with your Internet searching you’ve probably already figured out what *******’* ******** is.)

So that explained it!  That is what I had!  I had *******’* ********!

I felt better already.

Funny what a relief it is to be able to pinpoint causalities– to be able to put a name to a thing that ills you.  In this case, the symptoms of *******’* ******** had already begun to fade, but what really made me feel better was knowing what the hell had caused them.

This, I realized, is why people search for medical information on the Internet, and it’s why I wound up doing the same thing: just being able to put a name to the disease gives you a small, desperately needed, sense of control.  By knowing what it is, you are no longer just being wantonly pushed around by some Mysterious Ghost Illness (M.G.I.?) that could, the fear is, do anything to you.  Whenever the hell it wants to.

Oh, I suddenly have purple stretch marks on my belly?  Well then who knows– tomorrow I may just sprout a tiny set of hands out of my forehead!

It’s terrifying being a big fleshy ball of physical, mental and medical unpredictability.  It’s terrifying, because you have no idea what the hell might come next.

Much in the same way that you wouldn’t want to have someone standing behind you all the time, randomly blaring an air gun and scaring the shit out of you– having a disease that you can’t name, or don’t understand, messes with you on a fundamental, instinctual level.   We’d like to be able to at least predict the air horn, or the stretch marks, or the tiny forehead hands before they happen.  Because then we could prepare ourselves.
Or, where applicable, run for our lives.


Speaking of which, I can’t wait to go running again.  I just realized that the last time I went for a run was almost a year ago, when I ran to the hospital for brain surgery.  I can prove it, because we filmed it!

But since then… well, I’ve just been too sick.  But I am getting better.  (I hope, at least!)  And the desire is there– I remember how good it felt, how much it helped me.  How much it made me feel better, even though I was sick.

But I look at that picture, the one of me running with Dutch, wearing my “RUNNING (out of time)” t-shirt… I look at that picture, and every time I think “How the hell did I do that??”

RUNNING-pic

 

Wait, I know… I just put my sneakers on, and I went outside.  And I started to run.

That’s how I did it.

And it always made me feel better.

Hmm.

30 minutes ago I sat in this chair, I picked up a pen, and I started to write.
And it definitely made me feel better.

Maybe I’ll get up and put my sneakers on…