What would you do?
For those who haven’t been keeping up with my situation over the past few years, I have a brain tumor. It’s a meningioma, which is supposed to be the best kind of brain tumor to have. I’d laugh, but really. Oh the things doctors say to try and be positive. Well, I named the meningioma Mr. Miyagi because it’s better to refer to it by name than to say the word tumor.
The word tumor sounds gross.
Anyways, studies and statistics measure life expectancy after meningioma diagnosis in increments, with five (5) years being the best case scenario for an outlook (from Cancer.net Feb 22 update). It doesn’t mean that once those golden five years pass that one keels over and stops breathing, it just means that’s all the research has to go on. And that’s with surgical removal of said meningioma.
Some people are diagnosed with a meningioma that is small and stays unchanged their entire lives. Wish that were the case in my situation. Mine is somewhat small, but every 6 months I go for a scan and the results have always been the same — Mr. Miyagi was growing. The only treatment option would be surgical removal. Meningiomas do not respond to chemo and radiation would damage needed brain tissue. And unfortunately Mr. Miyagi had grown just a little too close to the main vein in my brain, so that ended up not being an option to consider at all after surgical consultation. There is no medicine to cure a meningioma. That was the news at the end of 2011.
There’s limited research and studies on this type of brain tumor, but they are considered female hormone receptors. To explain this easily, it means certain hormones feed Mr. Miyagi and make him grow. Which hormones in particular? The ones produced by stress. Literally, stress is killing me. And I’ve worked almost 19 years full time in one of the most stressful jobs anyone could ever have.
2012 was the year I cried every. Single. Day.
2012 was also the year I decided to really live my life. More than I was already living. And I got a tattoo. And I went to some outrageous places. And did some outrageous things. Boy did I make some memories in 2012. And while I share pretty much everything on social media, I even did some things that were just for me and for no one else, but I always followed my heart and oh how I smiled even while I was crying in 2012.
And wouldn’t you know it, at my 6 month scan in May, the damn thing shrunk by 20%.
But I think that was just a reprieve. It was a chance to let me really get some perspective on my entire life. My life’s purpose. Why I’m still here. What the heck I’m supposed to do. Where do I go from here? All those things one thinks about when they finally realize time is precious and not to be wasted. And at times I feel like an observer of life, watching other people move along oblivious to the big picture of it all.
I had to quit worrying about things beyond my control, which is pretty much everything but myself. I still haven’t done some of the things I want to do and haven’t made some major life decisions that are looming. And if one judges time by that five year mark, then in another year I’ll have sailed passed that buoy out into unknown parts on borrowed time. But isn’t every day borrowed time for each of us? Nothing in the future is ever promised.
Mid-November, Mr. Miyagi decided to wake from his hibernation and I have had an unrelenting headache for over a month. And I know it’s Miyagi because the headaches are always a bit different than sinus, stress, or a migraine. It’s like a deep, deep toothache in my head and centralized to the area where he resides — the right frontal lobe. Recess is over, kids and I’m taking care of business now. I’ve got two things left on bucket list to finish off so I can focus on kicking Miyagi’s behind and then starting a new bucket list.
March 14 I go for my latest brain scan. I can either find out the latest results of Mr. Miyagi’s status on March 15 before I board an afternoon flight to the UK to check Scotland off my list, or I can wait until the end of the month after I return from my Venice trip. Bret Lane says I should wait. I’m an impatient person and would rather know so I can just deal with whatever the news is and move on with some major life choices.
Unless the darn thing has miraculously disappeared, then it’s time for me to search the globe for clinical trials and research facilities. I’ve already been told surgery is not an option because the risk outweighs the benefit. Chemo and radiation are not options for this situation either. And at some point in the near future, I’m going to have to begin eliminating some of the bigger stressors in my life completely if I want to survive this thing.
I won’t post pictures of my brain because some people just don’t want to see that, even in the form of digital imaging in black and while. But I’ve seen my brain, and crazy enough it looks like a smiling lion. So I’ll take that as a sign that it’s a happy brain, it’s brave, and it’s got enough fight in it to overcome Mr. Miyagi’s holiday in my head.
I know many people look at my life, they look at all the traveling I’ve been fortunate enough to experience, and they think “Man, she’s lucky.” Yes, I am a fortunate woman, but remember that there’s always a balance in life. The scales have to even out before it’s all over. And I have been through some major crap people wouldn’t even believe. But that’s a bedtime story for another day. I just know that I’m due for even more awesomeness before I breathe my last breath. And that makes me, and my brain smile.
So what should I do? Should I find out what Mr. Miyagi’s been up to before…or after my next adventures? And maybe now, those who didn’t already know about Mr. Miyagi might understand about my gusto for life and not waiting around for tomorrow, or next week, or next year to grab opportunities or moments. That’s why when I find something that’s so good, so delicious, so awesome, I grab ahold of it immediately. I know some opportunities might not ever come my way in this lifetime again.
We can spend all day planning for tomorrow, but tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.