More questions than answers

I’ll start off by saying… I’m alive! I know I haven’t wrote in a while and some people were assuming the worst, but man I’ve had a busy schedule lately. Its been full of sleeping and naps and resting and whatever other synonyms you can come up with that mean I’ve been laying in bed knocked out.

Some of you sleep deprived people reading this are probably like, “oh you lucky son of a bitch!” but then you remember I have brain cancer, and you feel pretty bad about thinking that. Don’t worry, I don’t know which one of yous guys thought that, but you know who you are!

So anyways, the question is… why am I sleeping so much? Well that’s a real good question and it deserves a real good answer. Unfortunately, I don’t have that answer. I can tell you its not by choice and it has something to do with the fact my doctors keep changing the dosages of my anti-seizure medications… which have two major side effects: fatigue and depression. Sound fun? Nope! I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it breaks the laws of physics because it both sucks and blows at the same time.

Our goal is zero seizures, which is totally possible once we get the right balance of meds. The crappy part is the sleepiness and depression that comes with all the trial and error of finding the right dosage is really freakin’ annoying. I kinda feel like one of those tired, grumpy old men living in a retirement home… yelling at the nurses because my applesauce is too thick and I want to watch the Wheel of Fortune. But as soon as they put the TV show on I fall asleep in my chair and end up drooling half eaten applesauce on my shirt. You know what I’m talking about? Yea you do.

The other problem is all the questions I have because I don’t really know whats going on. Everything is hidden inside my head and I can’t see whats going on. Its not like a broken leg or something. That’s simple. If you break a leg you look down at your leg and you know whats wrong: your fucking leg is broken and its bending in the wrong direction. There’s no questions to ask.

But what happens if the problem is inside your noggin? Then what? I wish I could roll my eyes backwards and look at my brain or something cool like that. I know that’s kinda disgusting and exorcist-like, but I really wanna know what’s going on. But since I’m not possessed by a demon I have to rely on the information my doctors give me. Shit.

But on Friday we had a follow up with my neurosurgeon, the same guy that performed my operation. We were so excited to pick his brain (PUN INTENDED!) and get some info to put our minds at ease. I’m not going to sit here and type out every question and answer, but a lot of it was really interesting so here’s a quick recap:

  • My incision is healing really well. He was super happy about how quickly it has healed.
  • I have a round titanium plate screwed into my head. Its about the size of a quarter.
  • No, it won’t set off the metal detector at the airport.
  • No, it won’t stop a bullet (dammit!)
  • They took multiple samples during the biopsy procedure: 12 to be exact… all of which came back from pathology as stage 2 cancer.
  • Yes, it has the potential of graduating to stage 3 or 4 without warning (all cancer can do that).
  • He gave me the option of having surgery, or forgo surgery but monitor the tumor with frequent MRIs.
  • He can’t recommend which is the better option. Its completely my decision.
  • If I do have surgery, I could have difficulty speaking. Or even worse, I wouldn’t be able to speak at all.
  • There are no studies, statistics or other information to give me any percentage of what the outcome might be. Every person is unique and there isn’t any exact science to follow.
  • He is not ready to release me for radiation and/or chemotherapy treatment… he wants me to heal for an additional 3 weeks (minimum).
  • During the next 3 weeks I need to decide if I want to proceed with surgery or not.
  • Deciding if I want to proceed with surgery is a huge decision that I need to feel 100% comfortable with.
  • If I decide to wait on the removal and start with chemotherapy & radiation, it will significantly increase the risk of surgery down the road because radiation scars the brain cells.

So there you have it… a bunch of answers to questions that… well… just created a metric fuckton of new questions! I wanted to scratch questions off my list, not add more to it. I’m running out of room in my notebook and now I don’t have any room left for poop art!

But as much as I want to hate it, its good to have questions. Its a really good thing. Yes it means more research and more prodding doctors for more answers, but knowledge is unique in the sense that the more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know. Crazy, huh? The best part is that only drives us to learn more. Its like some sort of perpetual motion machine.

I think that’s why people say “ignorance is bliss”, because ignorant people think they know everything which is just a false sense of confidence. The other side of the coin is well educated people know the limits of their own knowledge. That’s an odd actuality, isn’t it?

So ask yourself this: would you rather be uninformed with a false sense of complacency… or knowledgeable with the understanding you lack all knowledge? I choose the latter.

To be honest, I don’t know shit about shit that’s going on inside my head (remember the whole cant-roll-my-eyes-backwards issue?). I know that’s crudely stated but its true! I have to admit and accept the limit of what I don’t know. I mean… yea I know I have brain cancer… but that’s like saying I know the title of a book I haven’t read. I know nothing about the contents of the book. Maybe they have a “Brain Cancer for Dummies” book. Ahhh who am I kidding… I still wouldn’t read it. I hate reading books.

I’m not sure about all of you reading this, but this life right here… the one I’m living now… its kind of a big deal. I haven’t picked up any 1-up’s along the way so I gotta make sure I don’t mess up. The next 3 weeks are going to be spent ensuring my decision is the absolute best one possible.

Now contrary to what I thought in high school, I don’t know everything. I won’t EVER know everything, but I’ll be damn sure I know as much as I can gobble up. Like Pacman… but instead of eating whatever those little white pills are, I’m going to munch up information. By the way, what the hell are those white pills? Hmm. Another question for my list.

So, anyways… is surgery the best option? Is it going to benefit me, my friends and my family the most? Shit… I don’t know. I’ll have to get back to you on that.

I can tell you the thought of some dude scooping out bits of my brain is probably the freakiest thing I can imagine… but I also don’t want this to be something I regret in the future because it turns into something more aggressive. I wonder if they use an ice cream scoop during the operation. Ahhh! See what I mean about questions? They’re everywhere!

But I digress…

Before I found out about all this, I knew something was wrong with me. There was a part of my subconscious that kept telling me something isn’t right and all these doctors telling me it was just panic attacks were wrong. That same little voice is telling me I don’t want to do surgery.

I think I like that little voice. He’s pretty cool and he seems to be right most of the time. I wish he would give me the winning Lotto numbers… that’d be pretty cool. But right now I’m content with what its telling me about surgery.

And on that note, make sure you listen to that voice as well. We all have it. It watches out for your best interest but you have to pay attention to it. How many times has something happened in your life and the first thing you say is “DAMN! I KNEW THAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN!”?

Listen to yourself. Listen to your body. Don’t let the people around you tell you otherwise or trump what you know is best. If I hadn’t pushed and pushed my doctor, I’d be still be sitting here, completely oblivious to whats going on, and still thinking I’m just having panic attacks.

You hear stupid sayings like “ignorance is bliss” and “what you don’t know can’t hurt you”. Bullshit. It can kill you and it would have killed me.

Don’t become a victim of ignorance.

  • Lisa Almond

    Has your doctor mentioned a radiation treatment called Gamma Knife? If not, ask & look into it….

  • Lisa Almond

    Has your doctor mentioned a radiation treatment called Gamma Knife? If not, ask & look into it….

  • jocelyn

    You said it all. Listen to your body. I tell patients that all the time. You and your family are in my prayers. Its your decision and it sounds like you have a surgeon who respects that, which is huge. Shows you are in good hands. You have a lot of love and positive energy going towards you.

    My best darlin.

  • Aaron Polanco

    ?Yeeeeeeeeeees?!?!? Greetings?Brandon, my fellow Bruce Lee enthusiast. I must say I agree with your friend from NYC, Eve I believe it was… you DO write well. Your mental capacity, sense of humor, and exquisite (never excessive) use of profanity permeate through your?typed words, personifying your personality perfectly.?As I read your blog,?(which I believe I am becoming addicted to)?I feel like I’m sitting in the office B.S.’ing with you about carb cycles or Lake Arrowhead. You are missed my friend. But I believe I am also drawn to your writings for another, more therapeutic reason. BTW?I tried calling you a couple of times to catch up and fill you in on my new-found relationship with cancer but as we all know… Sleep is King in the world of Brandon as of late. Never apologize for it, you need your rest. And when you’re not sleeping, spend your precious?time with the familia. As Don Corleone?eloquently put?it,” Do you spend time with your family? Good. Because a man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.” Man what a movie(s),? too bad they’re like 3 hours each. Do me a favor and pop ’em in the DVD player as you nod off with your applesauce.???? Anyways… how do I put this… well let’s emulate your frank and informative entry title.. So my mom has stomach cancer. As you know she had been pretty sick these past couple of months, losing weight, nausea, vomitting after meals. We all, including the doctors attributed it to her thyroid. Not to mention she’s been on this mid-life crisis work-out “eat right” binge for a year or so now. If only she would have remained the sweet, loving,?chunky mother we were all used to seeing we could have caught this thing earlier. So she has locally invasive, Stage 3 Adeno Carcinoma and was hospitalized the same day of her diagnosis. Which means, to the laymen, that she has cancer in the stomach?tissue that is very aggressive. Thankfully there are no signs of it metastasizing to other organs but as?YOU know, you never know.? Since she works for the hospital out in AZ she was very comfortable there. I used up my floating holiday as fast as you took those vinegar shots your wife made you take and flew out to see her.? ??? I got there on Tuesday night to discover they had her surgery planned for Friday morning. The procudure is called the Roux-en-y and pretty much entailed cutting my open like a fish, it’s most commonly?used in gastric bypasses. I just didn’t like the idea, and the fact that I?had been?removed from the entire situation both physically and emotionally gave me a different perspective from the rest of my family. I immediately started researching and discovering the limits of my knowledge as you so eloquantly mentioned earlier. But I did know that she needed the best, and that a general oncologist at a relatively small hospital was far from the best. Long story short my brothers and I went to work, got all of her medical documents gathered, scans of all sorts downloaded onto discs and had them in the hands of doctors at the Univerity of Arizona, City of Hope and hopefully USC within a day and a half. Apparently cutting her open would have the been the worst thing those doctors could have done. The AZ oncologists were under the impression that preoperative chemotherapy? had no benefits. Well, they don’t do research, and were 3 years behind in their knowledge. Welcome to the Present assholes. So my mom starts the first of her 3 properative chemo cycles tomorrow, which will increase her chances of survival by 13% bringing it to a grand total of 36! Fucking studies, fucking doctors, fucking cancer. But there is research out there that can help. And it seems as though you have a little time to make that decision. But as you said, every case is different, don’t drive yourself crazy over statistics like I almost did. Pray, talk to your family. The answer will come. But guys like us have to do some research, there’s no avoiding it. Just know you are always in my prayers and if you need anything at all I’ll be there.- Aaron

  • Hi Brandon! What you said at the end reminds me of the concept of Daemons in Philip Pullman’s book Northern Lights (The Golden Compass in America), and about the philosophy of conscience in general. I recommend your readers should look into it – some very important lessons about listening to your inner voice.
    All the best, keep fighting soldier and keep listening!

  • Lakerfred24

    Wish you the best bro,my prayers are with you.from who you least expected (BLUE SKY)lol. Hope to see you soon