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Living the Dream

Why are all these people being released and I am still stuck in this room?  This is not a good sign.  Something must be wrong.  I would later realize this would become a very normal feeling and occurrence.  This being in a constant state of waiting or limbo.  When I mention limbo, I’m not talking about the going under a bar at Gibson Arena Rolling Skating Rink.

Sir, you will need you to take your scans to your primary care doctor.  We will call her to let her know you will be on your way.  Why, is there something on them?  Sir, we cannot discuss this with you.  You will need to talk with your doctor.

As my doctor pulls out the pictures of my melon she pauses for wait seemed an eternity.  She turns to my wife and me with watery eyes.  I will never forget the look and feeling as she tells us that the scan showed a large mass in the center of my brain.  Later to be diagnosed as Stage 4 Brain Cancer.  I will never have a feeling like that again, almost a year to the date of our first anniversary.

As I sat at home numb that evening my thoughts were racing.  Will I die, will I be able to recognize my wife and family, how do I tell my Mom and Dad, what the hell do I do?  I knew at this moment I needed help.  This tough guy who wrestled, played football and was supposed to be so mentally tough was now scared to death.  Too embarrassed to tell my wife my fears resulted in an internet search for support.  The two that stood out were Vanderbilt Cancer Support Group and something called Gilda’s Club.  I then left a message late that night at the club where I got a phone call the very next morning from Megan offering me to come to an orientation.

My wife and my journey was about to begin.  Through five brain surgeries, thirty radiation treatments, and a year’s worth of chemotherapy we had Gilda’s Club as part of our support team.  Having a group of others (BTPers – Brain Tumor Posse)  going through the same challenges of a cancer diagnosis – anxiety, tears, losses, survivorship, and laughs – lead by a wonderful facilitator (Felice) made what initially was thought to be a road without a map to a destination unknown into having a GPS helping me to navigate the physical and mental thicket of my cancer diagnosis.  We all steer off course sometimes and it is nice to have someone aid you in getting back on track (in my own tough guy language, thanks Felice), but if necessary give you an alternate route or second opinion as well.  Whether you need various classes to keep your mind off of your diagnoses, spouses with cancer support group, meditation, or Tai Chi you always had a place to talk, get a hug, or have cookies with coffee.  I am indebted to the support of the staff, members, and volunteers that make this organization run.  I wish I had more story time to share with you readers, but this is only the beginning.  As one of the first individuals I met at Gilda’s Club said when I asked him how he was – even in the last few weeks of his life – the answer was always “Living the Dream”!  Well I am today as can be evidenced by this photograph.