Things You Can Still Do

Weird morning.  A lot of death in the air.  And coming from someone whose every day reality is spent wading ankles-deep in mortality (or brain-deep, if you prefer) death being weird is itself kind of weird.

So it got me thinking.  Which it does for all of us, I suppose. Thinking about death is the most difficult and peculiar train of thinking there is, since it feels so desperately important to figure out, and yet it rarely ever allows for any sort of acceptable conclusions, minor or major.

It’s difficult.  Even just thinking about death is difficult.  And that’s saying nothing of actually dying…  (See what I mean?  isn’t that difficult to think about?)

Anyway, what I’m getting at is is this: yes, it’s difficult– it’s really fucking hard, in fact.  It’s hard to understand, it’s hard to accept, and it’s especially hard to live with.

But that’s alright.  Some things are just hard.

The least we can do to ease our myriad burdens (this one in particular) is to avoid beating ourselves up for our inability to comprehend the incomprehensible, to accept the unacceptable.  Better to nod our heads in sad recognition of the fact that we just do not and maybe will never understand certain things.  Like this one particular thing.  And hey– that’s OK!  Because it’s hard! It’s really hard!

Of the many lessons I’ve learned in four years spent brain-deep in The Most Peculiar Of All Subjects, this is one of my favorites: That some things are just hard.  And that’s OK.  It’s OK to not know what to say sometimes, or even to think.
And one of the best things you can to do to make things a little easier is to accept the fact that it’s not always going to be easy.  We’re not always going to be able to figure it out.

But that’s OK.

Sure, it sucks.  Yes, it hurts.  Some times we find ourselves standing in front of a wall that seems so impassable and incomprehensible that we want to just bang our heads against it and scream.  And make ourselves hurt even more, out of frustration that we can’t just magically make it disappear.
But then, if wait long enough, something will change.  Something will come, as easily and lightly as this morning breeze, and we’ll open our eyes, and rub our heads and look up:  and that wall will be gone.  Or at least half as tall as it was.

And we’ll smile, and  we’ll go on.

So that’s what I’ve been thinking about this morning.

And it reminded me of one of the other lessons I’ve learned about death, in my last couple of years wading through it.  Here it is:

There aren’t many things you can still do, after you’re dead.  But one thing you can still do is this:

You can still make people smile.

And that’s really something, isn’t it?

This morning, someone who is no longer here, and about which I am terribly sad, still managed to make me smile.  Just thinking about her… I cried, but then suddenly I smiled.

And as difficult as all of this is, that one little part didn’t feel difficult at all.  That smile came easily, and honestly, and it felt true.  It felt like a gift.  And that gift is as real as the sadness, because here I am smiling again, right now.  Because of her.

She just did that.  Even though she’s gone.

Now that really is something.

Thanks.

Ruminating

There’s an odd tonality to a life spent primarily in the pursuit of maintaining life: where your main occupation is “fixing yourself,” on a day-to-day basis (eating pills, visiting doctors, etc.), so that you can continue that process again tomorrow, and hopefully (hopefully?)  for many days to come.

It seems rather solipsistic.  Perhaps even selfish.  Just living your life, spending your days, trying to stay alive.

One thing it definitely is (for the most part at least) is a bit boring.  It gets to be a little bit of a drag, trying to stay alive.  Or maybe it’s just that I have cancer.   Or maybe it’s just that the sky is cloudy this morning and my tummy hurts.  I don’t know.

But then when I get thinking like this, what I realize (which I’ve been realizing a lot lately about a lot of the seemingly peculiar things I’m dealing with) is this:

Hey, man– this is what everybody is dealing with.

The primary occupation of every living thing, for the vast majority of their life, is simply working to stay alive.

It’s why we breathe, and why we eat.  It’s why we try not to go crazy.  (This latter activity is a twist generally accepted to be exclusive to the human species, although the behavior of zoo animals leads me to suspect otherwise.)

But that doesn’t seem like much fun!

Just trying stay alive?!  That doesn’t seem like a reason for living!

Unless, of course, life is FUN.  (Or “rewarding,” or “satisfying,” or “interesting,” or ______ [fill in your own favorite adjective])

Because if life is ________, then it is worth working your ass off to get more of it.
When life is _____, it’s the best!

But what if it’s not?  What if life is not ______?  (I choose the adjective “fun,” because for me “fun” also includes things like “interesting” and “rewarding,” “enjoyable” and “beautiful.”)

Well, if life is not ______, then one of two things is probably happening:

1) You’re just not paying attention.

Or, (more likely…)

2) The amount of effort you’re having to put in just to survive, in addition to the amount of pain or hardship you are currently experiencing, is outweighing the positive things (fun) that life is giving you.

It’s a simple mathematical equation, really:

if   FUN  <  SURVIVAL EFFORT + PAIN/HARDSHIP,   then…  LIFE SUCKS.
but…
if   FUN >   SURVIVAL EFFORT + PAIN/HARDSHIP   then…    LIFE IS GREAT!  (or at least OK.  Hooray!)

Pretty obvious, right?  At least if you remember your < and > signs.  To put it in other words:  If the good outweighs the bad, then life is good!  And if the bad outweighs the good, then life is bad.

Duh.

But considering the above, one thing that really jumps out at me is that you can seriously tip the balance of the good/bad life scales if you actually enjoy some of the effort required to stay alive.

Eating, for example, is a required life activity that can be extremely enjoyable.  But even working (“making a living”) can be great– especially if your work is doing something you love to do: like playing music to stadiums full of adoring fans, or building beautiful things, or creating art, or saving people’s lives, or whatever it may be that you find fulfilling.

In other words, if your SURVIVAL EFFORT is actually for the most part FUN for your, then you’re totally tipping the life-scales!  Life, for you, is very likely good.  It may even be great.  In the very least, it’s OK.  And that (trust me) is OK.  It could be much, much worse.


All of the above has made me realize a few things about my own life.  And at the risk of getting even more solipsistic, here they are:

• I have dealt with a lot of PAIN and HARDSHIP in the last four years.  So I have worked like hell not only to survive, but to find (and create) FUN.  To keep my life balance on the good side of the good/bad equation.

•  It hasn’t always been easy.  Sometimes, it’s been really fucking hard.  Especially when, for example, my stomach hurts so much that it’s not even fun to eat.  Or when my body aches so much that I can’t get up and go outside to get some fresh air, and smell some roses.  Or when my mind is so fuzzy that it’s difficult to read.  Or write.  Or even watch a goddamn movie.
Because if you can’t do any of those things, then… well, sitting on the couch or lying in bed all day is NOT as much great as it might sound.
Even going to the hospital is more fun.

• Speaking of which– one of my best (and luckiest) Secret Tricks For Enjoying the Cancerful Life has been finding FUN in the EFFORT to stay alive.  This not only adds to the FUN (positive) side of the life scale, it also takes away from the EFFORT (negative) side.  It turns the effort into fun!  Good into bad!  Like magic!

• All the doctors appointments, for example–  I kind of love them.  Part of that is definitely just from having a reason to get my ass off the couch– but it’s not just that.  I am lucky enough to be deeply and endlessly fascinated by all the whiz-bang technology and intelligence we have amassed in a collective and concerted effort just to keep other people alive.  (Other people!  Imagine that!  While we’re all already super busy just trying to keep ourselves alive.  That’s pretty damn cool.)

• And all of that effort and intelligence and technology and energy dedicated to maintaining life reminds me of something else:  that there is an inherent assumption among all of us living things that life is worth maintaining.
Sometimes, you need reminding of that.  Especially when it’s hard, doing all this maintaining, and not having that much fun.


And oddly enough, just talking about stuff like this suddenly has made things easier for me today.   Magically, the bad is turning into good, and here I am starting to have a good time.  Even despite the cloudy morning and the achey tummy.

FULL DISCLOSURE:  The sun has actually started to come out, and my stomach hurts less than when I started this post.  So maybe it’s not magical.  Maybe it’s logical.  And/or biological.

Whatever it is, feeling better now than I did a few hours ago reminds me that life can be fun.  That there are laughs to be had.  That it won’t always be bad.

Sometimes, it’ll can be really, really good.

I know that this is true.  I just need to be reminded of it, from time to time.   I suspect a lot of other people do too.

And now I’ve done it.  I’ve reminded myself, and you!  And just like that, I feel a lot better.  I mean, I don’t feel fucking AMAZING or anything, but I feel a lot better.  (Which is slightly amazing.)

Point is, what started as something bad has turned into something good.  Suddenly, today is better than yesterday.  Suddenly this afternoon is better than this morning.

Things were cloudy, and tummy-achey, and they kind of sucked.

But I tried, and it worked.

And now I’m smiling.  (Literally.  Not just on the inside.)

And now I’m laughing.

And I’m sure glad I was around to make that happen.

 

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…

Happy Brain Chanceiversary!

I actually sat down to write a completely different post, but when I looked at the date on my computer, I realized that it appears to be April, in the year 2016.

This is a mind-blowing enough fact on its own, but it also reminds me of another not literally (just figuratively, and quite intendedly double-entedrely) mind-blowing fact:

I have had brain cancer for 4 years.

Four years!  Four freaking ©ancerful years!  Holy smokes… that is 1/10th of my entire life.  That’s a lotta life!

It’s also 328% more life than the measly 14.6 months they tell you you’re gonna get when you get yourself some glioblastoma, and you go looking for median survival rates on the internet.  (See, I told you not to do that four years ago!  Remember?)

So… Four years of living with brain cancer.  Wow!

Now that is not something I would have voted for back in 2012…

4 MORE YEARS!

Or, you know what?  Maybe I would have voted for it, now that I think about the last four years, and all the things I experienced in that time that I never otherwise would have.  (For example: Do you know what cerebral spinal fluid tastes like?  I do!  It’s not half bad, actually.  And I’ve got plenty of extra, so hit me up if you’d like to give it a shot, and maybe I’ll see if I can send you a shot.)

Besides, if I hadn’t voted Brain Cancer 2012, what would the alternative have been?  A Normal Life?  Without Brain Cancer?  That sounds about as exciting as a nap in the park.

Mmmm… a nap in the park.  That sounds nice.

Actually, it sounds boring.  I’ve been so overwhelmed with nap-needing and nap-taking in just the past ONE year that really all I would like to do now is to just stay awake.  Hell, if I could I would stay awake for four more years.  At least!

4-MORE-YEARS-Obama

Anyway, I’ll never know if I would have voted for Brain Cancer or not, way back in the year 2012.  I’m no time-traveller, and I can barely hold a steady conversation with myself today, let alone myself from four years ago.  Plus, I think my current self would probably freak my past self out with my weird scarred gourdlike head and my deep familiarity with  cerebral spinal fluid (including what it tastes like).

I didn’t have a choice in the matter, anyway.  There was no election back in 2012.  This Steady Olde Brain Chance just happened upon me.

And through some wild combination of luck, determination, medical science, chocolate, luck (yes I said luck twice– that was on purpose.  This is The Brain Chancery, after all), and perhaps above all the help and support of people I love (some of whom I’ve never even met!), I have survived, as a living person with glioblastoma, for four years.

On April 5th, 2012– Four years ago to this day– I walked myself up an impossibly steep hill to an MRI clinic in an impossibly tall Hong Kong skyscraper.  After some banging and some whizzing and some who-knows-what, I then saw a picture of the insides of my own brains, for the first of what would come to be many, many times.

And lo, what a surprise this very first brain-gander had in store for me!  Because the image I saw on that day looked exactly like this:

Tumor Tee

The picture looked exactly like that, because that is the exact picture I took at the exact moment I first discovered the tumor inside my head.  The text, of course, was added later.  (MRI machines don’t allow for customization, even in Hong Kong.)  But see that big spot on the bottom left side of each head shot?  That’s my cancer!  That’s what it looked like, on April 5th, 2012– four years ago today.  Well how d’ya like that!

All sorts of things have happened since I took that picture.  And honestly, not all of them have been bad.  A lot of them have been bad, of course.  Just not all of them.   And we don’t like to complain around here in Brain Chanceville… it feels like the fact that we’ve magically retained the ability to communicate at all leaves those skills best reserved for useful endeavours, like writing this blog.  Or writing songs about cancer.

Or even… just talking to myself, since to be honest I quite frequently need a serious dose of inspiration just to keep this whole thing going.  And since a lot of you have said I’m good at that (being inspirational) I have of late been trying to see if I can inspire myself.

Unfortunately when I talk to myself, especially in my head (and especially, for some reason, right when I wake up in the morning), the conversation tends to be more of an anxiety-filled “oh my god oh my god what the hell are you gonna do you idiot” kind of thing than the more inspirational stuff I reserve for the shining Cancerful halls of the Brain Chancery.

I can really freak myself out sometimes, when I talk to myself.  And so one trick that I’ve learned, is that I shouldn’t always listen to myself.  I should try to only listen to myself when I’m being encouraging.  To myself.  And if I’m not being encouraging, then I should tell myself to shut the fuck up and talk about something else for a minute.  I mean, I don’t need myself to remind myself of how precarious my situation is–  I know fully well how precarious my situation is, thank you!

But if you want to give me a firm but endearing kick in the ass, Myself, and tell me that I can do it, because look how far I have come, and doesn’t it feel great when I make it even just a little bit further than I thought I could?  If you wanna say that, I’ll take that.  I will listen.  Because honestly sometimes, I really need a firm but endearing kick in the ass.

And I’ll bet sometimes a lot of you do too.  So here you go, in case you do:

You can do it.

Seriously, you probably can.

And while we’re at it, try this thought on for size too, since it doesn’t cost a thing, and maybe it’s even true…

Everything Will Be OK.

Now that’s a nice one, isn’t it?  And maybe it’s even true!  Maybe everything will be OK!

Hey– maybe it already is.

And maybe I’ll blink my eyes and wake up, and it’ll be four more years from now, again.  It’ll be 2020.  And I will be awake.  Maybe that will happen.  And that would be A-OK with me.

So cheers!  To four more years.

4-MORE-YEARS-Obama

I’m Sick. (and I kinda like it.)

So I think I’m sick.  But I’m kind of digging it.  Which, if you’ve seen me squeezing all sorts of fun out of having cancer, may not surprise you.  But this time, it’s a little different.

Allow me explain…

The last couple of days, I’ve had a few new things going on (in addition to the litany of old things going on, [where by “things” I mean symptoms and side effects and, well, just general sick-ness.])

For example: yesterday, I was tired.  All day.  Like, weirdly tired.  But I’m weirdly tired all the time, so for me “weirdly tired” means really weird.  Like, supernaturally tired.  The kind of tired that you’d imagine only comes once a millenium, and requires A Thousand Years’ Sleep to cure.

So last night, I did all I could think to do with one night (not yet being sure I’ll have the luxury of 364,999 more), and I made sure to get a Big Damn Solid Dose of Good Night’s Sleep (a B.D.S.D.O.G.N.S.).  Which worked quite well (I clearly needed it, and the lovely new curtains my mom helped me put up worked like a charm in the morning).

But today… same thing!  Super tired.  Hmmm.  What the devil!  And no new meds, nothing unusual going on in the brain lately that would explain this Sudden Swing to the Super Slumberous.  Why the hell was / am I so pooped?

Speaking of poop (it’s relevant, so I’m going to), I think yesterday I made seven trips to the toilet.  Actually I don’t think, I know.  I counted.   Seven sit downs!  And another four just this morning– which would have actually been five if I had actually made it to the toilet in time for #2 #5.  (I didn’t.  Make it in time.  More on this later.  Consider yourself warned.)

So anyway, all this new shit was odd.  Both the sleepiness, and the shittiness.  I hadn’t eaten anything odd either.  So what the hell is/was going on?

Then this afternoon, it occurred to me…

Maybe I’m just SICK!

On top of everything else, maybe I’ve also got a Regular Person Illness (R.P.I.)… like some kind of flu, or maybe even a run-of-the-mill-non-genetically-engineered virus!  These things seem to be going around at the moment, and a bunch of people I know (including my doctor) have been laid low recently.  So maybe I’m sick!

And for some reason, this thought made me happy.  Which did seem vaguely twisted, even to me.  So I’ve been thinking about that, and here’s what I realized.

A few things, actually…

– It’s kinda nice, just as a change of pace, to have something wrong with me that has absolutely nothing to do with brain cancer.  I mean, it sucks — it still feels like being sick — but it’s not any worse than what I am already dealing with (which I’m learning to deal with a bit better, and more patiently, on a daily basis).

Plus– and this is the important part…

– With this kind of sickness– this kind of Old Fashioned People Gettin’ Sick sickness– all you have to do is get some rest, take it easy, and it’ll just… go away.

Holy shit.  It’ll just go away!?!?!

What a fuckin’ luxury!

No brain surgeries?  No experimental drugs injected into your skull… no weeks and months and (if you’re lucky) years of heavy dose chemotherapy…  no direct-brain radiation, no support groups, not even so much as one trip to the emergency room!

Just chicken soup and sleep and passing time with books and movies and it’ll just… go away!?!

Wow.

So I guess that’s why I like being this kind of sick.  I wish they were all like this!

The only real negative effects of this particular R.P.I. (so far at least) have been:
a) a totally sleepy wasted day yesterday, and
b) the aforementioned #2 #5 that wound up in my pants instead of where I would have preferred it to wind up (or down, as it were).

But even that little mishap lead me to take that really nice long shower I’d been putting off for a couple of days. (Look, when you’re as tired as I’ve been, even the thought of getting wet is exhausting, because it means having to get dry again.  So don’t judge).  And it was a really nice shower.  I washed my (lack of) hair and everything.  It felt great.  I should do that every day!  (Shower, not shit my pants.  And actually, we’re in a drought, so maybe I can still only shower every other day 😉 )

Anyway, where was I… oh yeah, so even this Unexpected Shitting of The Pants lead to an unexpectedly nice outcome.  Maybe I really do like being sick!

I mean, I don’t want to be sick forever or anything, but therein lies the beauty… I think if I just wait it out, this particular bug is just gonna fly the coop!

I might even miss it.

Well not really, but we did have some good times together.

I’m gonna go eat some soup and wait it out.


PS: If you suspect I am either forcing cheerfulness or just pathologically required to find positives in negatives, you and I are in perfect agreement.  I don’t know what’s up with that either.  And I offer my sincerest apologies to anyone who feels like shit right now because of the flu, or cancer, or having shat your pants, or whatever might ail you.

I’m not pretending it doesn’t suck to be sick, because it does.

But if it can go away (even if just for a moment), well now that’s something worth being cheerful about, isn’t it?

There’s No Such Thing As Giving Up

I realize the title of this post sounds like some kind of inspirational, self-help aphorism (like, “There is no ‘I’ in “team” [or “cancer,” for that matter]), but I don’t mean it that way.  I mean it literally.  I have learned, only just recently, that, in certain important contexts, there really is no such thing as giving up.  Giving up (as the old song doesn’t say) isn’t just hard to do– it’s actually impossible to do.

I was extremely surprised to learn this.

And disappointed, to be honest.  And most of all, frustrated.  But let me provide some context.

You see– only a couple of weeks ago, I was dealing with a whirlwind of pretty serious shit-wrinkles that suddenly made my life, frankly, harder to bear than I was able.   It sucked.  It was too much.  It was the roughest patch of road I had experienced in 40 years, causing me to (not literally, but very much figuratively) fall apart.

And when that was happening, right in the middle of the worst of it, I thought (many times) “I don’t wanna do this anymore.  I can’t do this anymore.  I don’t know how to do this, I can’t, I want it to stop.”

I desperately wanted it to stop.  I needed it to stop.  I COULDN’T do it.  I COULD NOT bear it.  I wanted to press the “off” button on the red-hot poker that was singeing me in the gut and the brain and all sorts of other sensitive spots that you really just want left alone under normal circumstances, and especially so when you already have brain cancer.

So I thought about this – how to make it stop.  I just wanted to give up!  Yeah that’s it– give up!

But how the fuck do you actually “give up?”

And it occurred to me in that moment that it’s actually impossible.  At least in this context — in the context of extremely overbearingly painful life situations — there is no such thing as “giving up.”

I mean, if there was, what would you do?

You can’t just go lay on the floor and drool stick your hand in the air with a white tissue hanging out of it in surrender.  Because that wouldn’t work.  That wouldn’t change a goddamn thing.  You’d still be feeling and going through all the same shit you were before you started drooling on the floor, except now you’re on the floor and your arm is getting tired from holding it up so you’re actually worse off.

And I know this all sounds really stupid, but I had just never been in this position before– the “I SIMPLY CAN NOT BEAR THIS, I JUST WANT TO STOP” position.  (And I’ve even done yoga a couple of times.)

It just felt to me, in that particular moment, that there should be a way to just give up, to make it stop, to opt-the-fuck-out of the deal that was causing me so much pain.  Or at least I wished there were.  And I thought about it, and realized there wasn’t.

Now I’m smart enough to realize that there IS an obvious op-out solution that fully constitutes “giving up,” and which the more morbid of you have probably been waiting for me to mention, and which I’m not going to avoid just to avoid scaring you, or my mom, or whoever else is reading this.

And that giving up solution is to just fucking go kill yourself.  I mean, committing suicide would certainly would seem to meet all the requirements and qualifications of a very official “giving up.”  And it does.

And that thought did occur to me, but only because in running through the logic of the whole situation I realized that it was an option.  It just wasn’t an option for me, because honestly even that didn’t feel like giving up.

I mean, what I was getting at– what I was hoping for– was a way to just STOP.  If you’re playing in a basketball game and you’re playing terribly and your leg hurts and you want to stop, you can just walk off the court and not play anymore.  If you’re reading a book and it sucks and it’s making you unhappy, you can just stop reading it.

Killing yourself, on the other hand, is the equivalent of setting fire to the entire basketball court or the book in an effort to stop participating with it.   But it kinda makes you participate with it even more– just in a different way.  First, it takes a bunch of work.  And it’s gonna make a HUGE mess.  And it’s definitely gonna piss off a whole bunch of other people.  And you might not even succeed at it!  You could fail at giving up!  And so killing yourself doesn’t feel like giving up at all– it feels like a real pain in the ass.

It feels like you should just be able to lie down on the floor and fall asleep and have all the bad things stop.  But you can’t.  I was extremely disappointed to learn that life just doesn’t work like that.

So my point is this: if your life is causing you so much pain that you just don’t know what to do and you can’t possible bear it for one second more… you’re just kinda fucked, because there is no way to give up.

See?  It’s true!

There is no such thing as giving up!

How’s that for inspirational!

Wait, so if you can’t give up… then what the hell can you do?

There’s only really one thing you can do, and that’s to JUST KEEP GOING.

And just see what happens.

And so that’s what I did.

And wouldn’t you know it– things got better.

I’m now about a month out from the deepest valleys of the shitwrinkle.  And owing to a lot of wonderful friendship, a bit of craftiness and hard work, no small amount of spectacular luck, and the kindness, grace and generosity of some unspeakably wonderful people… I suddenly find myself back on my feet.  With real solid ground to stand on.  And my mom just got me a beautiful new rug for my place, so I’ve even got that to stand on!

Oh how the tides can turn, if you just keep going.  And what the hell else can you do?  Because clearly you can’t just stop!

So I still feel like shit, on a daily basis.  My brain is such a foggy semifunctional haze that if you had to jump into it for ten seconds you’d be shocked that I can get a fork to my mouth, let alone string coherent sentences together.  But I’m getting used to it!  I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I have a “new normal,” and this is probably it.  It’s a far shittier “normal” than what I had 4 years ago– or even 1 year ago, but it still (miraculously) includes me being able to walk, and talk, and laugh, and smell roses.  And with solid ground (and a nice rug!) under my feet, that ain’t so bad.  That’s called a life.  And I’m happy to have it.

I don’t have to stop.  I don’t even want to give up.  I get to keep going!

And I think I will.

Oh and yesterday I learned something that’s going to help quite a bit with this whole not-stopping-keep-on-going-thing.  And that is the results of my latest MRI, which I had on Monday, under my awesome new health insurance plan (which is another major miracle).

So yeah those MRI results… I had a full scan on my brain and spine, and other than the fact that I was in the machine for two hours and it got really boring, the results… were good!

It appears that all the cancerspots™ that appeared on my last MRI in December (spots which had already looked relatively stable compared to the scan before that) are now all of three varieties: exactly the same, a little bit smaller, or just not there anymore.  There’s still stuff in there that’s clearly cancer (as there has been for four years now), but the point is, the small bit of cancer that’s in there is not really doing anything.

And since my cancer (glioblastoma!) is the equivalent of a Bloodthirsty-Combination-Scorpion-Lion-Dinosaur-Octopus (B.C.S.L.D.O.), for the shit to just sit there and not do anything for months at a time is nothing less than miraculous.  So something must be working– or some combination of all the various things I’ve exposed my brain to in the last few years.  Either that, or my B.C.S.L.D.O. just isn’t as bloodthirsty as they normally are.  Or maybe he just felt bad that I had to go through that annoying series of shitwrinkles, and felt like he should give me a break for five seconds.

And a break I have been given.  Several, in fact.  More than anything, I’m just so relieved that I won’t have to subject myself to any new surgeries or chemotherapies or experimental virus treatments, for at least a few months.  I can keep on keepin’ on and continue getting used to my Totally Shitty New Normal That Is Perfectly OK Because I Am Still Alive And Roses Still Smell Really Good!

So I’m glad that there was no such thing as giving up.

Because it sure is nice to be around, and I can’t wait to keep it up!

Searching For Inspiration

The word “Inspiration” has been a big theme around here at the Brain Chancery, pretty much since the beginning.  People have used that word in regards to this blog, and to myself, which always makes me feel a little uncomfortable, but also a little proud– but mostly a little uncomfortable.  I mean all I’m really doing is having brain cancer as best I can.  And it’s super weird when someone looks you in the eyes and says to your face “You’re such an inspiration!”  Because sometimes, to be honest, I don’t feel like one.

The dirty little secret I feel like I need to reveal is that apparently inspiration doesn’t really come that easily to me.

Because as I’ve learned, and despite some of the more inspirational things I’ve said on here… sometimes you’re just not feeling it.

Sometimes inspiration just doesn’t come.
Sometimes you just can’t find it, no matter how hard you try.
And this is particularly hard when you need it the most.

On one level, I’ve been searching for inspiration just for this blog post for a couple of days, because a few people (thank you) have asked me for an update.  And I’ve really wanted to write something.  But to do that I had to… well, I had to actually figure out what to say.

I have a bunch of blog post ideas scribbled in my notebooks that I’ve been wanting to write about for a long time, ones that I saved up, so I considered using one of those pre-made bits of inspiration.  So I scanned through them… but none of them felt right.  They’re all good ideas, and I’m sure you’d get a kick out of each of them (especially the one where I was going to assess whether it’s better to get ebola or glioblastoma.  The answer might surprise you!).  But despite having a bunch of reserve inspiration right there in front of me that I’d saved for a time just like this, I wasn’t feeling it.  None of those ideas brought out that spark.  None of them made me want to write.  I didn’t find any of them… inspiring.

Eventually I realized this is because what I need to talk about is what’s really going on with me right now, which is that I am… searching for inspiration.  And not just for a blog post.  For something a lot bigger than that.

At least when I realized this, I realized I had the title for this post.  So that got me started– “Searching For Inspiration” was itself enough of a tiny bit of inspiration to at least get me writing.  And here I am, a few paragraphs in, so that is a minor victory.  I should be happy about that.  I am.  Sort of.

I need something more, to be honest.  I need more inspiration than a blog post– I need something that’s going to get me through what I’m going through right now.  Which to be quite honest, might very well be the most difficult week of my life.

It’s been a rough start to the new year, to say the very least.  It’s also been a rough start to my 40th year, which began on December 28th (to little fanfare, despite my having written last year on my birthday that I really should be making a point to appreciate these birthdays, each one I get post-glioblastoma is a bit of a minor– no, major– miracle.  So here goes… “Woo hoo I’m 40!  Whoopty f’in Doo!“)

Anyway 40, and 2016, have both been really terrible so far.  And ironically, that doesn’t have anything to do with brain cancer.  Well it does, of course, because everything having to do with me now has something to do with brain cancer.  After all…

Brain Cancer: nuthin' beats it!

Brain Cancer: nuthin’ beats it!

No, but all of this terribleness that’s been happening isn’t bad cancer news– in fact I just had an MRI between my birthday and the new year, and it showed that all of the could-be-cancer-spots in my head and my spine looked exactly the same as they did one month before.  So that’s a good thing.  Things look stable with my brain chance.  Another minor miracle.  And that should be enough to make me happy.  Shouldn’t it?

It would, but the problem is everything else.  Everything else is kinda really bad.

A couple of major shitbombs were delivered onto my Cancerful head just in the past week. I’ve been feeling really wiped out, hazy– a shadow, as they say, of my former self.  So I was already pretty low, and feeling really weak– definitely not ready to receive a couple of heavy blows that would knock me even lower.

First, I lost my health insurance.  Then, I lost my main source of income.

Gulp.

The first problem, luckily, is already somewhat solved– I was able to sign up for new insurance (which is a major wonderful miracle that I’m extremely grateful for) but it’s going to take a little while to kick in.  So I am, currently, uncovered.  Which is scary when you’ve got a little brain chance.  I had some appointments scheduled for tomorrow (including an MRI on my brain and spine) that I’ll be unable to do, and I have to put off for a couple of weeks.  Which isn’t the end of the world– the most important thing is that I will be insured again soon.  And nothing that crazy should (I hope) happen between now and February 1st.  (I trust I won’t get hit by a bus in the next few weeks.)

But the second problem– the income problem– is much bigger, and really came out of nowhere.  I don’t want to get into what happened or why, other than to say I had a good plan and enough money coming in to keep me safe and stable going forward for quite awhile, and now I suddenly don’t.  And that’s a huge problem.  And it has really sent me spinning.

First, it really throws a wrench into my already precarious life situation.  I’ve been incredibly lucky– and have worked very hard– to be able to keep my head above water despite having a Serious Case of Cancer (S.C.o.C.), and now suddenly this little (huge) wrinkle brings my ability to maintain that life into question.  And it also throws a huge wrench into the whole Cancerful plan I’ve been working so hard on.  It means I might have to stop all the cancer-curing projects I’ve been working on–  the things that have been putting wind my sails and keeping me inspired and making me believe that all of this might just be worth it.

I had never in my life felt like I was dealt more bad cards than I could deal with.  And that includs being dealt this one:

BRAINCANCERCARD

(That’s a pretty bad card.)

But brain cancer, for me, also came with a lot of positives– a lot of love, a lot of compassion, and the inspiration to start a mission to help other people in ways I never would have otherwise dreamed of.

Brain cancer lead me to write a wonderful, cancer-curing movie, to start a cancer-curing foundation, to run a marathon by myself in honor of my hero-– it lead me to do all sorts of things with my life that I never would have otherwise done.

So it hasn’t all been bad.  Some of it has been really good.

In fact, since I was first diagnosed, my motivating principle has been to try to make some good of this.

Early on in me becoming cancerful, I randomly had this thought:  “Wouldn’t it be something if you could make it so that this was worth it?  So that you were glad that you got brain cancer!

When I had this thought, I found it so beautiful that it immediately filled me with inspiration.  That really would be something!  Imagine a life like that!  Imagine what you’d have to do to make getting brain cancer worth it!

And so I did imagine.  And somehow, when I did, I felt like it was possible.  I felt like I could do it.

I felt inspired.

So I figured what the hell, why don’t I give it a shot.

So that has been my goal, my motivating principle, for almost four years now:  To Make Getting Brain Cancer Worth It.

And somehow, I’ve been doing pretty well with that goal.  For a lot of the last four years, my life has been more fun and rewarding than any of my years B.B.C. (Before Brain Cancer).

And I’m not just saying that.  This cancerful journey really has been something else!  I’ve seen, and felt, things that I never would have otherwise– beautiful things much bigger than myself that I would not trade for anything.  In a lot of ways, it already has been worth it.

And here I thought I could keep that going– I could keep being Cancerful, and curing myself on a daily basis by smelling roses and laughing and going hiking and writing and basking in the beauty of a world that felt even more precious and beautiful now that my presence in it has a looming limit.

But the rug was just ripped out from under my feet.  No, more than just the rug– the floor underneath it too.  And the ground underneath that.

So now when I look down, there’s suddenly nothing there– and it scares the shit out of me.  It terrifies me.  And that’s a feeling — fear– that I’m just not really used to.  Which isn’t to say I think I’m a particularly brave person– for some reason though in the four years since I’ve had my Brain Chance, fear isn’t something that hit me a lot.

I remember feeling a twinge of it back in Hong Kong, when the reason for my headache and the new exciting theme of my life — Cancer! — first revealed itself.  Back then, in a Chinese MRI facility on a steep hill in Kowloon, the whole situation was seemed so odd and interesting that I found it kind of exciting.  It was like the excitement/fear you experience when a roller coaster is about to flip you up over that first towering hump and send you flying down towards Who-Knows-What.  There was a level of adventure and an excitement of the unknown that for some reason I enjoyed a bit.  (I may have just been bored at the time, who knows : )  Plus I’m a writer, so it immediately felt like something great to write about.  And I did.  It was a huge inspiration.  And that helped it not be scary.

But this new chapter, this new shit-wrinkle — and the fear I’m feeling now– is just scary. It’s just fear.  There isn’t any sense of excitement and adventure that comes along with this latest curveball, just a large heaping dose of “How Are you Gonna Pay For Your Rent And Food And Health Insurance!?”  This isn’t that exciting, unless it’s part of some weird game show I haven’t heard about yet but I hope gets cancelled.

And all of this just came conveniently at a time when I’ve already been feeling like I barely have the strength to tie my shoes and do a crossword puzzle.

So that’s why this has probably been the hardest week of my life.  It’s a lot to deal with, on top of already having had a lot to deal with (i.e. glioblastoma, hydrocephalus, and all of the fun that comes with being a sick person.), and all of that added up together equals Too Much To Deal With! (TMTDW!)

In retrospect, it’s easy, I guess, to handle having brain cancer and to keep on keepin’ on like a total Cancerful Badass (a TCBA) when you’re lucky enough to have your feet firmly planted on stable ground.  And I have been that lucky.  I have been very, very lucky in that respect.  Because that stable ground for me has been:

  • A safe place to live, and a way to pay for it, that (I thought) I didn’t need to worry about.
  • Family and friends who filled every day with love and support.
  • The ability to get medical treatment at a wonderful hospital with wonderful doctors, with access to the absolute cutting edge of what’s out there for the horrible disease that I have.
  • The people who have followed this blog and what I’ve been up to and have continued to express their support and give me confidence and help me believe that the work I’m doing has meaning for other people, and can actually help other people.  This alone has been enough to get me this far through my glioblastomarama.
  • Speaking of which, the Cancerful Foundation and the things I’m trying to do with it (Curing cancer, one moment at a time– through the Movie, the Cancer Card, the Cure My Day website, and hopefully a lot more cures) has been a wonderful, powerful driving force that not only keeps me going but gets me closer to that ultimate goal of mine: to be able to say that GETTING BRAIN CANCER WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT!

This fear that I’ve been feeling, I now realize, is really rooted in the fact that this latest set of obstacles threatens me achieving that goal.  It threatens the cancer-curing path that I was on.  It means I might have to stop, because right now I’m so overwhelmed that I’m just not sure how to continue.  And that’s the thing that has me so scared.

***

I came to terms with losing my life four years ago, when I was first told that I have cancer (and not just any old cancer, but one they jump over each other to describe as The Scariest Cancer Of All!)

What I guess I haven’t come to terms with is losing the things that I am now trying to do with that life.

I think I wasn’t particularly afraid of dying before because when I got brain cancer, my life had already been pretty wonderful and fulfilling, and I genuinely felt mostly lucky and grateful for that.  It was hard not to feel like I’d already lucked out– because I really had.

And then I somehow survived brain surgery, and then I survived a few more, and I was somehow able to live another day(s) and smell more roses and see more sunsets!  And then I started curing cancer– and not just mine!  Out of nowhere, without expecting it or ever looking for one, I suddenly had a meaning for my life!

So I was given a really nice first round of life, and then an absolutely wonderful and rewarding Bonus Round.  And I couldn’t help but feel lucky and grateful for all of that.  And that feeling kept me going, and it lasted for a long time.  It lasted all the way up until this past week, when the sky crashed down and the ground disappeared.

In retrospect, maybe it was a bad idea to create a situation where my life could actually have some meaning.  (I’m kidding, of course.)  But by giving my life the potential to have meaning beyond itself, I also gave myself something much bigger to lose.  And that, I think, is what has me so scared right now.  I’m scared of losing everything that I thought I could make of this unexpected and wonderfully Cancerful life.

Me, I’m OK with losing that guy– he’s had an good time in his 40 years!  But all this curing I’ve come up with– the movie, the Foundation– those things still have a lot of work to do and a lot of people to help and cure.  But these latest roadblocks I’ve hit have left me afraid of how I’m just going to keep myself going, let alone all the crazy and ambitious and wonderful Cancerful things I’m been trying to do.

I don’t want to stop, but I also don’t have any idea how I’m going to keep myself, and all of this, going.

So there’s my latest blog update!

I’m in a terribly Cancerful pickle!

Thanks for reading!  🙂

***

I was a little worried about writing this post because I knew that if I wanted to be honest–and I always want to be honest when I’m writing, especially here–  I knew it was going to be pretty dark.  And bleak.  And not that inspirational.  Because that’s where I’m at right now, to be honest.

I feel like I’ve developed a certain Cancerful reputation (“Chad, you’re such an inspiration!) and talking about how scared I am and how my life is kinda falling apart is a lot less entertaining than singing a song about cancer, or running to brain surgery.  I don’t want to be sad, and I don’t want to write about being sad.  But if I’m being honest, I’m sad. And scared.  Things really suck right now, and I don’t know what I’m gonna do.

And I was talking to a dear friend, and I expressed this concern to her, about being afraid to write because it would be depressing.  And she told me that no matter what it was that I wrote, if it came from me, no matter how dark it was, it would still come packaged with some beautiful little glimmer of hope.

I was surprised by this, because I haven’t been feeling particularly hopeful lately.

But when I thought about it, I realized that she was right.  There probably would wind up being some kind of hopeful twist, if only because I know myself well enough to know that I simply can’t stand the idea of a world (or a blog post, I suppose) that doesn’t have some glimmer of hope.  Because who would want to be a part of that!?

And just that thought made me happy.   Maybe it was even something to write about.  And boom!  Just like that, I had found a little bit of inspiration.

And then I was talking to another wonderful friend (three cheers for talking out problems, and four cheers for wonderful friends!) and in trying to cheer me up, she suggested that maybe this current shitstorm I find myself in the middle of  is a turning point that will actually wind up leading to something good.  Maybe even something better, she said.

And I knew she was just trying to cheer me up, and I didn’t particularly believe that what she was saying was true, but I also have no idea what really is going to happen, because I can’t see over this hill yet.  And this is a really big hill.

And I looked at the hill, and then, suddenly, that fear that I have been feeling became like when you’re on the crest of a roller coaster, about to tumble down into Who-Knows-What.

Suddenly, that same fear that’s been tearing me up and eating me up and waking me up in the middle of the night became a little bit exciting.

Because you know what?  Who-Knows-What could turn out to be something completely wonderful.

Hell, it could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you.

So put your hands up the air and scream, because the ride is still going.

Actually, maybe the ride is only just getting started…

beast3

I’m leaving the hospital!

Which means I’ve been in the hospital.

Which may come as a surprise, since I have not updated this blog on my most recent brain-chancering.

But luckily I have been reprimanded about this enough (even by people I have never met– how Cancerfully awesome is that?) that I now sit on the edge of my hospital bed — my bed (and desk, and table), for the last week, with my bags packed, hammering out the first few sentences of this post, to force myself to get it done.

Because sometimes you have to force yourself, to get it done.

I was reminded today that sometimes you have to have to force yourself, just to stay alive.

And that’s not always easy.

But typing is easy.  At least it is when you’ve got something to say.  And I’ve got things I should have already said.

Like, I’m gay.

No I’m not.

I’m the Prince of Paris.

I’m not that either, but I now hope to be some time in the near future.

And it’s important to have goals.  Things to look forward to.

Like being in my home with Dutch de Dog in less than an hour (knowing me, 2 hours).

Either way, this post will be written, Thy Will Be Done.

And Hallowed Be Thy Name.

(What an awesome thing to say to someone.  Next time i see my friend_______ (whoever books their name in that spot first will get this treatment next time I see them. Go!)

Next time I see my friend ________ and we’re saying goodbye, I will say:

“Later, _____!  Thy Will Be Done!  And Hallowed Be Thy Name!

I bet if you’re the Prince of Paris you get that from people every freakin’ day.  Now THAT is living’, my Cancerful friends.

I bet if you’re the Prince of Paris, your new Jewish Mother (did you know I have my own official Jewish mother now!?!   Like I needed one– my own mother is Jewish enough, even though she’s not Jewish at all.  She thinks.)  I bet if you’re the Prince of Paris, your new Jewish Mother wouldn’t say that too you.  First, it’s way too Catholic a thing to say.  And you know what she also definitely wouldn’t say to you?  Something my wonderful new Jewish mom just actually said to me while reprimanding me for not updating my blog?  “You Son of a Bitch!!”   (sorry Lynn! 😉

She was of course kidding.  And of course she wouldn’t say that, because then she’d just be calling herself a bitch. Assuming she has fully accepted me as her Actually Catholic Jewish Son.

But I’m getting off track (of course.  Hence the 2 hours.)  So allow me to pause and stand up and move toward the door, which is closer to…

MY HOUSE. ABOUT SIX HOURS LATER.

And finishing this post.  With relevant medical information, not just mildly hilarious religious jokes.  So here it is!

WHY I WAS JUST IN THE HOSPITAL:

So on Friday, the same kooky random thing happened to me that happened back in late August, at my sister’s house in Jersey.  Which is to say, I suddenly got this weird high fever, and basically passed out.  This time though, on my own bed.  Which was nice.  But again, when somebody (this time my lovely friends downstairs) came to check on me, they couldn’t really wake me up.  I was MegaGroggy™, and apparently somewhat ornery about going to the hospital.  But they (smartly) got me there anyway.  Turns out I had a fever… for going back to the hospital!  Luckily, this time that meant MY hospital, where MY doctors live ( in little healing caves filled with magical science crystals) which was a major relief, and allowed me to get far more involved in my treatment, and to push things a bit harder so I could get home in 4 days, not 4 weeks.  And so here I am, home!  And feeling much better, thank you.

SO WHAT’S ACTUALLY GOING ON WITH MY HEAD?

    • Again, this remains mostly a mystery.  All signs / symptoms looked to the docs here (as they looked to the docs in Jersey) like meningitis– a word that freaks people out because it’s usually caused by bacteria or infection in the brain, and it often kills people.  In this case (like back in august) they tested the bejeezus out of my spinal fluid, or CSF (that stuff I’ve been producing way too much of, to the extent that it was spraying out of my temple for awhile, and I was bottling & selling it at a hipster Juicery in Silverlake.
    • So again, they started treating me with lots (LOTS!) of antibiotics, which is the safe thing to do even if you’re not sure that the meningitis is caused by a virus or bacteria.  And again, they’re testing my CSF and not finding any bacteria or viruses in there, which is good.  But bad in the sense that we have no idea why this is happening. I could be a result of the Uncommon Cold Clinical Trial that I Was involved in– which was specifically designed to get your immune system fired up & fighting, even if you don’t have a real infection.  And then to kill cancer cells instead, while it’s looking for something to fight.  So maybe that’s what happened (or is still happening).  We’ll probably never know.
    • Currently though, I am feeling a lot better.  Close to normal(ish).  Which for me, is good.  I’m on a bunch of antibiotics, and as they test for and eliminate different bugs that I don’t have, they eliminate more of the antibiotics I’m on.  I’m now down to 3, which I am able to administer at home, thanks to these awesome little portable IV medicine balls that allow me to be home, or wherever I want to be, not on IV pumps at the hospital 24 hours a day.  Which is awesome.
    • Medicine Balls!

      Medicine Balls!

    • I’ll be on these guys for a few more days, so I’m taking advantage by heading out to the desert to another National Park this weekend, to retest my theory that US National Parks are one of the most powerful cancer-curing agents out there.  This theory was bolstered, in fact, by a quick trip through TWO national parks last weekend, that I’d never been to, that totally cured the shit out of me with their big weird beautiful 2,200 year-old trees…Giant Sequoias are more powerful (and taller) than chemo!
    • I mean, look at that Cancerful guy’s face!  Sure, it looks pretty porky (from the steroids and un-restrained chocolate consumption), but it also looks pretty cured, don’t it?  That’s because it was, and is!  When your back is resting against a tree that’s older than the bible, and you’re surrounded by that much majestic LIFE, you don’t really give a shit about cancer.  And I didn’t, when those pictures were taken.

Kings Canyon Cures Cancer!

And I still give less of a shit about cancer, a week or so after these photos were taken.  So yes, I’ll say it again: National Parks Cure Cancer. And we at the Cancerful Foundation will be exploring this theory more, in the very near future.  So stay tuned!  We’re gonna eat some Joshua trees, this coming weekend!  Which will make us both fatter, AND more cured!

  • Ok so there it is.  Hopefully I’ve explained things semi-sufficiently enough that my various extremely caring and wonderful mothers will stop yelling at me and calling themselves names in the process.
  • If you still have any questions, please send them along.  But that’s pretty much it.  AS FOR MY ACTUAL CANCER: it’s still there, but not really growing much.  We’re gonna start on some new chemo (one that i mentioned earlier, which is pretty cool & not scary, and which I’ll explain more in a forthcoming post.  I PROMISE, MOMS!)
  • But the most important thing going on is this: I was alive today, ALL DAY.  And it was fun.  I’ve learned that being alive is actually one of the best cures there is.  Especially when you’re paying attention to the wonderful things around you–  things like that tree behind me, which is one of the biggest living things on earth. (To give you an idea of how big: the trunk is about 40 feet in diameter, and the lowest branch is 100 feet off the ground.)
  • And guess what?  I’m gonna be alive again tomorrow!  And I’m going to see some friends that I love, some very old and some very new.  Look at all this wonderful stuff, just waiting to happen because I’m doing my best to stick around and be there for it!  And even that can be hard to get done.  Just sticking around. But I’m doing it!  And it’s working.  And it’s worth it.  I don’t regret a second of it.  Well, maybe the decision to eat the first 37 feet of that Sequoia for dinner.  I should have stopped after the first few feet, but the steroids make you really ravenous…
    • Ooo, now that I’m thinking about it, I gotta remember to bring  some Worcestershire sauce to Joshua Tree.  And a nice Pinot.
  • Goodnight friends, and thanks for reprimanding me to keep on blogging – that means it means something to people other than myself, which helps me keep doing it.  And I like doing it.  Always makes me feel better.
  • As proof: I feel better now than I did six hours ago.  Which might also be because I just pooped a 30 foot tall sapling into my toilet.  (Does anyone in the 90026 have a water-tolerant chainsaw they can lend me?)

Oh and by the way, our fundraising efforts have been pretty successful, and we thank you for that.  But this wouldn’t be the New Cancerful Chad if I wasn’t making poop jokes while ALSO asking for money, so if you’ve got it in you (saplings, mulch, etc.) maybe consider dropping a few bucks @ the Cancerful Foundation’s donation page so we can do a few things we want to do and don’t have enough cash right now to do (because running to brain surgery isn’t cool enough to make all your fundraising dreams come true).  Here it is again:

PEOPLE WITH CANCER LOVE DONATIONS BECAUSE IT HELPS THE CANCERFUL FOUNDATION TAKE THEM TO NATIONAL PARKS TO CURE THEIR CANCER!

 

What a Summer! What…? A Summer?

Now that the summer of 2015 is (unofficially) over, I’m left wondering what it was like.  See, a few days before it started, on June 18th, I had my 4th brain surgery, and in the 11.6 weeks since then I’ve mostly been… well, recovering from that darned brain surgery.

Sure, I’ve had some fun, and I got a little sun, but I also spent a good amount of time in… 4 different hospitals in 3 different states.  I took at least 3 ambulance rides (woo hoo!), I experienced my first spinal tap, I had about 15 different individual fevers, I had a drain put in my brain, and I was hooked up to intravenous antibiotics for several weeks that were probably unnecessary and made me break out into hives.  What a blast!  (It wasn’t.)

But I don’t like to complain, so I’ll quickly shift over to the good news, which is this: Weirdo Medical Summer is now over, and I AM STILL HERE!  Woo hoo!  (That’s a real “woo hoo,” not a sarcastic one.)

Even better, during these last 11 weeks, I somehow managed to accomplish a bunch of stuff that I’m extremely proud of.  And am extremely proud to tell you about right now.

The first thing was, I ran to my brain surgery.  (For the 2nd time.)  Which was cool and everything, but this time, we filmed it!  And made a really cool little film out of it.  You may have seen a preview, but here is the real thing.  I hope you like it…

This film was made with the help and support of a wonderful team of friends and pros who donated their time, and I can’t thank them enough for their efforts.  My hope was that I could turn having to have brain surgery again into something good, and because of this film, I’m glad it happened!  And I’ll be even more glad if the film succeeds at its main purpose, which is to raise a bunch of money for the Cancerful Foundation!  (We were going to make a video of me asking for money sitting in a chair, but this seemed to be a little more fun and inspiring.)

Speaking of the Cancerful Foundation, the second thing I pulled off during my Sad Sickypants Summer was finishing up our WONDERFUL, CANCERFUL NEW WEBSITE!

WEBSITE-home-screen-shot-for-BLOG

If you haven’t seen the new website yet, please check it out.  There’s all sorts of info about what we’re up to and all the ways we’re hoping to cure cancer:
We’re making A Movie, we’re making a magical card that turns cancer into a perk (The Cancer Card!), and we’re making a website that helps people with cancer easily get the little things they could really use help with on a day to day basis (it’s called “Cure My Day“, and it’s basically a bridal registry for cancer patients.  Like: instead of china, a ride to the doctor on Thursday.)

Oh and I’m also going to start writing “Cancer!  The Manual!“– a (not Idiot’s) guide to the things that happen to EVERY Cancerful person that nobody ever talks about.  For example: some of your friends will completely disappear (it’s true).  And every day, somebody who cares about you or who you just bumped into at Starbucks will lecture you about some vegetable or supplement that you absolutely MUST eat “because my friend’s dog totally had a tumor and it totally went away in like 2 days with this stuff and the big pharma companies are just trying to make money off you with their poison!
Stuff like that.  And a lot more.  And it’ll be free.  And it’ll be funny.  I’ve got a good stash of cancer jokes.  And I have learned that Cancerful people like to laugh about cancer now and then, because it rarely happens, and it can totally cure the hell out of you for a moment.  And that’s what the Cancerful Foundation’s mission is all about.

So that’s it!  Wow, that’s a lot.

But in the spirit of Labor Day–  myself and the wonderful Cancerful teammates who are helping me (and who I can not thank enough for their dedication and hard work) still have a lot more work to do.

And we need your help!  Because making innovative new cancer cures ain’t cheap.  It’s definitely not free.  Well, except for the jokes.  Like the one where I filled the bag that was draining cerebral spinal fluid directly out of my skull with blue Gatorade, and asked the horrified nurses if there was something wrong with me.  (OK, I didn’t really do that, but that image just made me laugh, and I bet somebody out there with cancer will laugh at it too.  See, there’s a tiny cured second right there!)

So anyway, if I haven’t asked you already (if you know me, I’m sure I’ve asked you already, but forgive me for asking you again):
Please keep this cancer-curing train rolling at top speed by donating to the Cancerful Foundation!
There are links all over the place on this blog, and on our new website, and even in this series of words right here.
(Did you find it?)

See how easy it is?  You don’t have an excuse for not donating!  Other than simply not feeling like giving us money.  Which is OK, because it is your money after all.  Until it’s ours.  Or somebody else’s.  Like Starbucks.  Which tastes good, we get it.  (Yes, that was totally a backhanded comparison between choosing caffeinated beverages over curing cancer.)  Wait– is guilt a good way to get people to donate money?  I’m new at this, so if it isn’t, then please just ignore the fact that I said that Starbucks thing, and focus on anything else I’ve said or done that you find funny or inspiring and might get you to chip in a few bucks 😉

Plus hey– and I mean this– I deeply appreciate the fact that you’re reading this, and that you care enough to do so. That really IS enough, because it inspires me to keep doing this.  So I’m gonna keep doing this.

I just really want to make this movie happen, and all of the other cancer-curing stuff I’ve been talking about.  I believe in our Foundation and our mission, and I know how much we can help people with what we’re doing.  And nobody else is really doing anything like this, and– believe me– there’s a huge need for it.  For all of it.  And if we don’t do it, nobody else is going to!  So we need to do it!
Chop Chop Peacock, get it done!”  (That’s what I say to myself every morning after I chug my turmeric and cannabinoid oil smoothy.  No I don’t. ;))

So… we’re just asking for help.  No guilt, pushiness or cajoling intended.  Just the truth.  (And a little cajoling, to be truthful.)

We can really help people here.  We’ve already started.  I got an email from someone in another country saying that that video of me running made her friend (who has terminal cancer) smile for the first time in weeks.  And that’s just a preview of a preview of a preview of what we’re doing.  So that feels pretty good.  But we need to do more!  Think of how much more we can do!  And we’ve got the plan and the will– We just need some old fashioned “resources” (i.e., cold hard ca$h) to pull it all off.

And hey– if I have to have another brain surgery and do cartwheels to it this time to make an even stronger case for our Foundation and our mission, I am absolutely willing to… joke around about the possibility of doing that, and then let somebody quickly talk me out of it.

So to sum up…
I jogged to brain surgery for the second time.
Big frickin’ whoop.
Then I got sick.
Boo frickin’ hoo.
But now I’m feeling better, and motivated, and on a roll, and most importantly I’m alive!
Whoopty Frick’ Doo!
(That last one, not sarcastic.  But the other ones yes, sarcastic.)

And now I’m asking for money!
Yippee doo I hope it works!

cancer!!

 

MONEY CURES CANCER TOO!

Thanks for reading.  I’m gonna go to bed.

G’night from the Cancerful!

Amazing.

Those of you who know me well know my distaste for the rampant overuse of the word “amazing.”

“Oh my god these fucking cupcakes are AMAZING!

Shut up, no they’re not.  Unless they were baked with strains of wheat re-engineered from samples of 20,000 year old pre-Mesopotamian DNA– then they might be amazing.  Or, if they magically appeared in your hands in a giant poof of glittery chocolatey smoke right at the instant you thought to yourself that you kinda wanted a cupcake– those cupcakes would be literally amazing.

Somebody asked me recently if a piece of pizza or something I had in my mouth was amazing, and I dickishly responded “Sorry, I have really high standards for ‘amazing.’  The Grand Canyon?  That’s amazing.  Still being alive after three years with brain cancer– THAT is amazing.  The pizza?  It’s delicious.  It’s not amazing.”

I actually said that.  What a dick.

So when I realized a few minutes ago that three years ago — exactly three years ago today — I was in Hong Kong and I had just survived brain surgery and I posted my first entry on this blog, I made note of this on Facebook (because Facebook was the one who’d reminded me.  [And this is the last kind thing you’ll hear me say about Facebook this year]).

And what was the first response I got?  The very first response, within seconds?

“Amazing.”

Amazing!

Amazing!

When I saw this comment appear, I actually laughed out loud.  I don’t know if Nick wrote this on purpose because he knows about my dickish Take-It-Easy-On-Amazing crusade, but either way, he’s right.  (He’s literally correct.)

Three years with brain cancer is amazing.

Three years!  With brain cancer!

Time really flies when you’re being alive.