About eighteen years ago, after two weeks of occasional headaches, I ended up in hospital. Scans revealed a twenty-millimetre mass inside my brain and I had surgery four days later with a full resection. Pathology revealed a Grade 4 GBM (Glioblastoma Multiforme).
Despite the bad news I undertook twelve weeks of radiotherapy and a further few months of chemotherapy. It wasn’t easy and I had a retinal bleed in my right eye during chemo treatment, causing a permanent blind spot, possibly caused by the chemo, so I chose to cancel the last infusion just in case. The scans throughout treatment showed stable low-intensity residual growth.
There have been minor changes over the years with no medical intervention and minimal side effects. My life goes on with six-monthly MRIs, and I had a TIA (Transient ischemic attack) twelve months ago that may be attributed to radiotherapy side effects. Luckily, I had no other residual side effects.
What else did I do? I had no alcohol, no red meat, no spicy food, no coffee, and continued with a healthy balanced diet.
Before I outline the next part of my journey, I want to be clear, I am not advising, recommending, or claiming it was the defining factor of my survival, but it was part of my journey. For 5 years I ground 6 apricot kernels per day and consumed them in cereal or juice. Google it and make your own choice.
I made an effort to be active, fit, and healthy physically and mentally and embraced Chinese medicine, with a monthly, massage, manipulation, cupping, acupuncture, and herbs as directed.
I also stepped back in my career from national to local responsibilities, reduced stress, and embraced family as my priority. I travelled and enjoyed life as a gift. I watched my kids grow up.
When I turned 50, I raised $17,000 for Cure Brain Cancer fund with family and friends. I supported friends with cancer battles, sharing my experience, listening, and caring.
I am still here. I have six-monthly MRIs, and three-monthly visits to a Chinese medical practitioner, and I am still embracing life and am fit, healthy, and active at 54 in 2021.
I am sorry I don’t have a magic wand to help others, I don’t have a miracle cure or treatment, I just count myself lucky. I guess all I have to offer is a story of survival and the ability to give others hope.
Who were my heroes?
- Chris Xenos – Surgeon
- Michael Daly – Radiologist
- Ronnie Freilich - Neuro oncologist (my ongoing specialist since 2003)
If you would like to share your story with us, please get in touch, we would love to hear from you!
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