Boats, Bikes, and Greyhounds


If you are new to my blog, I feature brain tumor survivors on my blog on Thursdays.  You can read more about this feature and archived posts here.
It is my pleasure to introduce you to C Michael Miller.

I hope…

I hope that advances in technology will allow more understanding for the less known medical issues.  My own Acoustic Neuroma (benign brain tumor) diagnosis took over a year to find, due mostly to a lack of awareness of the condition — both in the general population and in the medical community.

I wish…

I wish that everyone with a brain tumor (or any other major medical ailment) had a support network as amazing as mine was.  My wife, family, friends, doctors, therapists, and everyone else I came into contact with during my treatment and recovery were incredibly helpful and supportive.  I wish the same for everyone dealing with a difficult diagnosis.

I dream…

I dream of a time when the medical treatments for all brain tumors are less invasive and more successful.  Period.

I am (be)…

I am stronger because of my brain tumor.  I have gone on to new achievements in life, including long distance bicycling and writing a book.  I look forward to continuing to find new challenges.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

I was diagnosed with a 3.9cm Acoustic Neuroma (benign brain tumor) in 2009.  It was pressing on my cerebellum, brain stem, and facial nerve.  I had a fourteen hour Trans-Labyrinth approach surgery that got most of the tumor, but left a small sliver to preserve my facial nerve.  I also contracted Meningitis during my recovery due to a Cerebrospinal Fluid leak.  The tumor and surgery left me with some partial facial paralysis and deaf in one ear.

C Michael Miller’s MRI

3 things about me:

I went from a hospital bed after surgery to finishing a one-hundred mile bicycle ride a little over a year ago.  Crossing that finishing line (photo) marked the end of my physical recovery.

Crossing the finish line

I was lucky to not have my balance affected dramatically by my surgery, which has allowed me to continue my passion for sailing.

2012 National Ocean One Design regatta in Annapolis. I’m kneeling just over the “Bad” in Bad Cat.

I am passionate about greyhound rescue- my wife and I have been a foster home for our local greyhound rescue group for 10 years. (photo of our Rider)

Rider

I was inspired to write a book, Diagnosis: Brain Tumor – My Acoustic Neuroma Story, about my brain tumor experience. I’m excited to be able to share hope with others.  You can find more info at www.cmichaelmiller.com. (cover photo)

Diagnosis: Brain Tumor – My Acoustic Neuroma Story

If you would like to submit your profile for Brain Tumor Thursday here, please email me directly at memomuse@gmail.com or you can check out the information page and read past archives.  Caregivers and loved ones are welcome to share their profile too, following the same template. #BTSM and #BrainTumorThursday is a wonderful community reaching around the globe with out-stretched arms and love. If you are on Twitter, you can use the hash tags #BTSM and #BrainTumorThursday to reach out to this wonderful community.
You can leave C Michael a comment here or email him directly at author@cmichaelmiller.com. Thank you for your support of Brain Tumor Thursday.

#Brain Tumor Thursday – Tom McLain


If you are new to this blog, read this so you know what this project and post, #Brain Tumor Thursday, is about.

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Tom McLain —  husband, father, friend, family man, and overall awesome person — who also happens to be fighting (and doing a great job might I add) brain tumors.  These are his words, in his voice.

“What then do you do with the statistics?  I choose to think of them as merely a guide.  With my brain tumor, I choose to believe that my chances of survival are phenomenal.”  ~ Tom McLain

I hope…

How can you have a brain tumor and not hope for a cure?  Hope does not completely drive me, because it does have to be tempered with reality — the statistics are often grim.  But even in the face of grim statistics, one can always hope and pray about being an outlier, being the one patient who brings the average up by living far longer that the average or even the top number in a range of years.  The companion to hope is faith in God.  As I have said before, “As weapons against cancer, faith is the bow and hope is the arrow.”

I wish…

It is my sincere wish that no one else ever has to face a diagnosis of a brain tumor.  One of the wisest things said to me at the beginning of my journey was the observation that the central question was not, “Why me?” but “Why not me?”  That shifts the focus from internal to external and allows you to make wishes for others.  My hopes and dreams tend to be about  me and my family and my wishes tend to be broader in scope.

I dream…

With the diagnosis of a fatal disease and no clear answer as to how long I will survive, I dream about the events in life that I may miss.  I have three daughters, so I dream about walking them all down the aisle to be married.  I dream about grandchildren, being convinced that I will be an awesome grandfather.  I dream about being financially secure enough to retire while I still have enough health to fully enjoy life with my wife and family.

“Never underestimate the power of God to use your flimsy self to his glory.” - J.E. Oppenheim

I am (be)…

While it may seem entirely strange to most, I am in many ways thankful for my brain tumor.  Before the tumor came along, I thought James 1:2-4 was a completely insane passage in the Bible:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV)

"The most difficult time in any cancer battle is the time between diagnosis and deciding on a plan of attack." ~ Tom McLain

How on earth could you ever look upon life’s problems as a joyful experience?  But then I began to realize that I would have a phenomenal opportunity to watch God work, both in my life, and in the lives of others around me.   As explained by American author and brain tumor patient, J.E. Oppenheim, “Never underestimate the power of God to use your flimsy self to his glory.”  So far, the tangible benefits of my cancer have been that I have been taught faith, hope, courage, resilience, and purpose.

"So far, the tangible benefits of my cancer have been that I have been taught faith, hope, courage, resilience, and purpose." - Tom McLain

It would be unfair of me to suggest that I have fully adjusted to my “new normal.”  The swirling effects of the tumor — chemo, maintenance drugs, being a male over 50, and possible radiation damage — do provide for some unevenness in my daily approach to life.  If fact, you could easily encounter me on a given day and conclude — “This cannot be the same guy.”

Diagnosis and treatment…

As for the tumor itself, a mass was detected in an MRI at the end of May 2009.  During the first week or so of June 2009, I had a brain biopsy and it was determined that my tumor was an anaplastic oligodendroglioma.  Not only was that good news because they are slow-growing tumors, but I also had what is known as a 1P, 19Q chromosome in the tumor cells which made them more susceptible to a particular chemo drug called Temodar.  On June 22, I turned 50, so you could say the tumor was my birthday present!  After getting a couple of consultations, it became clear that surgery was not an option, so we began Temodar in July 2009.  Eighteen rounds later, I finished Temodar in February 2011.  No too long after that, I started targeted brain radiation and completed that in July 2011.  The net result is: that as of today, my tumor is smaller and stable!

"The net result is: that as of today, my tumor is smaller and stable!" - Tom McLain

It terms of a favorite quote, there are many that come to mind.  There is actually a website that has been kind enough to add a few of my quotes to those of others in the brain tumor community and other cancer sufferers.  I go there frequently for inspiration.

https://sites.google.com/site/tummorwarrior/home/quotes-about-cancer

If you are a brain tumor patient or survivor and would like to share your story, please contact me at memomuse@gmail.com.  If you read this post, you will find the template for the profile feature, as well as, the connection I have to brain tumors.

You can also find me on Twitter, especially on #braintumorthursday.  Send me a message there or in the comment list here at my blog.  If you are on Twitter, be sure to put in the hash tag, “#braintumorthursday” to find support, information, and a whole community of amazing people doing their part to raise awareness and offer each other kindness and support.  You can also put in the hash tag “#BTSM” which means “brain tumor social media.”  You don’t have to have a Twitter account to get the information.  Just go to http://www.twitter.com and put in the two hash tags (#braintumorthursday and #btsm) to see the links to many websites.  You can also use a search engine, such as Goggle, to do this.

I have several links on my blogroll (link list in sidebar to right) which are organizations with a lot of other links and information about brain tumors.)  But in case they do not show up, here is a direct list:

Please feel free to add your link in a comment if it has to do with brain tumor support and information.  If you wish to get in  touch with Tom, you can email him at ThomasLMcLain@gmail.com, but be warned — he does not check it often.  He’ll be reading the comments here on this post, so give him some love here too!

Thank you for tuning in today and supporting #braintumorthursday.  We look forward to seeing you here at http://www.memomuse.wordpress.com every Thursday for #Brain Tumor Thursday and on Twitter every Thursday.  Thank you for your time.

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.

~ memomuse

Connection


I am in the process of working on writing a blog post to catch everyone up to speed.  But honestly, the last week has been a whirlwind of creative connection, human connection, technology connection, and soul connection — and oh, how can I forget — writing connection.

I want to put some links here that will give you an idea of how connected we all are and also what I have been up to creatively.

1.  Talenthouse:  My photo, Brain Tumors, which is a photo of my mother in the hospital the day after she almost died.  The photo was taken last year in May.   The photo received over 1000 votes and they are still coming in.)  The support all over the world has been incredible.  Just click on the link, Brain Tumors and take a look around to see what’s going on over at Talenthouse.  I have met so many amazing artists through this website.  I really appreciate what Talenthouse is doing for artists and creatives.  What I really like about their website title is it reads: “Talenthouse – ALL CREATIVE.”  The winner will be announced March 15.  You better believe I will let you know!

No doubt about it - I am a right brained brainiac.

In a nutshell — I entered the photo, Brain Tumors in a creative invite at Talenthouse to work with Tiffany Shlain, who was honored by Newsweek as one of the “Women Shaping the 21st Century.”  “Tiffany Shlain is a filmmaker, founder of The Webby Awards, and co-founder of The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. A celebrated thinker and catalyst, Tiffany is known for her ability to illuminate complex ideas in culture, science, technology and life through her unique films and her dynamic talks and projects.”  Tiffany also recently did this film, Connected. She is beyond raderific!  She is also a mom.

2.  Attachment Parenting International:  I am a regular contributor to their online blog, API Speaks and magazine, The Attached Family.  API is a great international organization and I practice attachment parenting with my son, Benjamin.  My essay, Magic Mama, which honors and celebrates my mother’s legacy and giant spirit, is posted there right now.  This essay has been getting retweeted and has had an incredible amount of readers.  It actually got retweeted by Tiffany Shlain after I tweeted it to her and other organizations having to do with brain tumor support and information.  I am honored to share my mother with the world.  The essay was also linked to via this post, Motherhood is hard, with a pingback to my essay, Magic Mama, when Lara, the mom blogger said, “How on earth did our own moms make it all look so easy?”

Attachment Parenting is an international website, with over 20,000 fans on facebook.  That means 20,000 people, all over the world, potentially read this essay, which celebrates the beauty and dynamic of the mother-daughter relationship.  I also made arrangements with the director of the nursing home where my mother is at, to have someone read her Magic Mama.  This makes me happy.  I wrote this essay for my mom, so it is fitting she hear it.

3.  Mamalode: My essay, Take a Number, I Just Got to Town was published on Mamalode’s website last week.  This is also a magazine and website I am a regular contributor for.  I can’t tell you how much I adore this magazine.  It is a collection and community of honest, down-to-earth mamas, telling you how it really is, how they wish it were, and how sometimes it isn’t anything they even understand.  This magazine has subscribers in every state in the US and a presence internationally.   Check out their Spring issue, themed Flow, coming out this week.  You can subscribe via the link above.  This issue will feature an article by Kelle Hapton about writing her new book, Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected, which goes on sale April 3rd.  You can pre-order a book at her website.

So, how we are all so connected — by technology, by the human condition, by our hearts.  I have connected with an artist in the US and one in the Ukraine because we both lost our fathers; these connections were made on Talenthouse.  I will be writing about these connections later on this website (here at memomuse.wordpress.com). Right now, I am just trying to get out the basics so you all can be caught up to speed.  Anyway, there just feels like there is so much to tell you.  Like how someone I went to junior high with in Chicago, posted the Brain Tumors  link in his 20th high school reunion facebook feed.   Or how Tiffany Shlain retweeted my essay on Mamalode because I had tweeted it to her, as well as, to the American Brain Tumor Association.

How are you connected? How does it bring you joy?

Thank you for following my blog and reading this post.  Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.

Extra information and memomuse news:

Photo by Megan Oteri (c) ~ All Rights Reserved

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Follow me on Facebook: memomuse to get your daily dose or doses of memomuse.  I post earthy, thinky, mama, eco, crafty, gardening, creative, inspirational, photos, and links of  lots of positive doses of muse — what inspires me and what I create when I am inspired.

4. Wheat Thins Review: “What do The Colbert Report, Family Guy, a disbelieving twitterer, a hiker stuck under a rock, and Wheat Thins all have in common? They all are part of the new advertising launch of the new Wheat Thins made with 100% whole grain.”  I was asked by Grovery.com to write a review for Wheat Thins.  This is a great website with articles, reviews, information, coupons, and news of the grocery industry.  We all need to eat, so we all need to go to the grocery store.  Here is the link to the review.  It was fun to write and it is funny.  I promise you will laugh.  Really, I do.

Have a museful day!