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
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.”
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.
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.
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)
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.
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!
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.
If you are a brain tumor patient or survivor and would like to share your story, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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:
- The American Brain Tumor Association
- Google Site – Tummor Warrior
- National Brain Tumor Society
- BT Buddies
- Your Eyes Are Your Heart
- It’s Just Benign
- Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada
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.