Saturday, December 29, 2012

Grade IV Glioblastoma Multiforme

Before I get into my diagnosis, let me preface this all by saying I will survive this.  I will carry on and you all will get sick of me one day.  I am not ignorant and this diagnosis was the complete opposite of what I was hoping for.  I recall reading about Grade IV GBM's (GBM's are what we call them in the biz) and thinking, "Wow, I hope I don't have that."  Well, I do.  This is not easy to say and I know once you all 'google' my diagnosis you will understand why I am not in as high of spirits as I once was.  (I think I am allowed an hour or two of initial shock, but I will get over it.)  This particular cancer has a shelf life of about 1-2 years after diagnosis.  This timeline doesn't even get me to 30 and I am not ok with that.   Listening to the doctor tell me I am a Grade IV Glioblastoma (aka the worst and most aggressive brain cancer known) was like sitting through my death sentence in court.  It was hard- to say the least...  I always tried to mentally prepare myself for the worst case scenario...  But at the same time I always held out the hope that I would have some good news.  Today I got the worst case scenario.  Today I was told that I have the most aggressive form of brain cancer.  A little known fact is that this particular cancer is supposed to only be present in people over the age of 50.  I am 27.  Im nearly half the age I am supposed to be when this cancer is meant to show it's ugly head.  I don't think that this is fair, but nobody ever said life is fair and I am sure as hell not going to start complaining today.  Life is an interesting journey.  It will take you on roads you never pictured nor wished yourself upon.  Once you are on these paths, this is where you are truly tested.  These paths are what define you as a person and dependent upon how we react in times of trial is how I think our lives will one day be gauged.  I am staying strong, I am fighting with every ounce of fiber in my being.  I am 27 years old and I have no intentions of leaving this life this young.
 Life is not easy, life is not clean and life is certainly a mystery.  I will beat this.  I HAVE to beat this.  

Going forward I was not given too many options.  The diagnosis of my 'condition' is pretty much worse case scenario already.  I have seen first hand the effects of chemo and radiation and it is not fun at all.  Given my situation however, there is no other choice.  As I have said since the beginning, I do not have a death wish and if the doctor says I need to do something to survive, I will do it.  I will begin a pretty intense therapy of chemo 7 days a week (Temodar) accompanied with radiation 5 days a week.  This will truly be a test of wills and I know what I will be facing.  It is not going to be fun and I am prepared -literally for the fight of my life.    

I look back on the past 3 months and still do not fully comprehend everything that has happened.  I am still recovering from a pretty invasive brain surgery procedure and on top of that I am now dealing with a diagnosis that could potentially end my life before 30.  If this is not life being life, I do not know what is.  Things I used to stress about seem so mundane now.  I used to worry about things that this morning seem like the most pointless and undeserving subjects.  It is strange how in life we always try our hardest to live, but never truly live.  We get caught up in our careers and our relationships and end up wasting time on stuff that does not really matter.  Life is not about the small things.  Life is about how much you can help other people, life is about what differences you make in other peoples lives and how you positively affect those around you.  Sitting on your couch watching paid programs is not what humans are meant to do.  We need to get out and live a life worth living.  Punching in and out of your 9-5 is not enough.  Going through the motions is not enough.  Taking life by the horns and doing something with the extremely small amount of time you are given on earth is what needs to be done.  Don't wait until you are faced with your own mortality to decide to start living, don't allow yourself excuses to put things off.  Live in the moment and help people.  Help people and by helping others you will see you are truly helping yourself.     

I can not express my gratitude for all of my friends, family and strangers who find my story inspiring. I did not chose this path for myself, but I will bear it as long as I can.  I will stay strong and failure is not an option for me.  I love you all and you guys make me what I am.

Thank you so much.

Here is a small clip of me getting my staples taken out.  Probably one of the more painful things I have been through.  =)
video
Before and after surgery.  The film on the right shows almost a complete resection of the tumor.  A good start!


You and me both brother!

Ouuuuuuuuuuucccchhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
Waking up this morning I began anew.  Another life started when I was told I might be on my last leg of life at 27, this life is now directed and has meaning.  I plan on living the shit out of life and I won't ever forget to be thankful for every second I have on this strange planet.

xx
Ryan

Sunday, December 23, 2012

2 months ago I was a normal 27 year old man.  Had a new job, a new car and my life seemed like it was on track.  I had an amazing girlfriend and I stressed about all of the pointless things in life we stress about everyday.  2 months ago I was normal, and then I wasn't.  I still recall that friday afternoon happy hour with my co-workers from IMS, "I can only stay for a drink, I have to go to a CT scan just to rule anything out, my brain has been feeling a bit strange lately and my doctor is being paranoid."  Maybe I was being paranoid, maybe my doctor saved my life.  All I know is that I am beyond thankful that she ordered that scan 2 months ago.  Since the the second I walked out of that CT scan I knew something was wrong.  I walked out of the chamber where the x-rays slam into my body in an invisible fashion and extract images from bone and matter in my brain.  All the while I feel nothing, yet know the poisons that are coursing through my body.  Upon greeting the technician outside of the room he engaged me, "Been having headaches?"  As this isn't obvious enough, I am sure 99% of all people who have their brained scanned have some sort of headaches, right?  But to which I responded, 'yea a bit.'  He then proceded to point out exactly where my headaches were and ask if they were severe or frequent.  The first conversation I had as a newly paired group of acquaintances was an x-ray technician diagnosing my growing tumor.  "Well I don't personally read these, I just put the data through and your doctor will call you on Monday."  Awesome, now I have all weekend to wonder why he knew exactly where my headaches were located.  That weekend went by slower than anything I can remember.  I tried to forget what he had told me, but it is a task far easier said than done.  That Sunday night a group of my friends and I went to The Queen Mary Dark Harbor Haunted Mazes in Long Beach.  By the end of the night my head felt like it was in a vise and I was exceptionally tired.  Like always, I chalked it up to the the 3 beers and crappy food I had eaten at the Queen Mary, but in the back of my mind I knew.  I knew before the call, I knew before any doctor told me what was happening.  I knew my life was going to be different from the second I walked out of that x-ray room.  I knew I had a tumor in my brain and now I know I have cancer.

Accepting cancer at 27 is not an easy task.  Accepting cancer at 77 is not an easy task.  There is no age where hearing you have cancer is allowable, let alone wanted.  Please do not mistake this for self pity or sorrow.  I have seen things that are far worse than any situation I will ever go through.  Traveling through South Africa a couple years ago exposed me to some terrible things and since that moment in my life I knew I had lived a life that most all people can only dream about.  I was able to go out of my way to help people and try and solve some small problems that might one day lead to something great.  It truly changed my perspective on life and experiencing those cultures has changed me for the better.  I have no sympathy for myself, this disease is in my body and where it goes from there is up to the greater good, the God or God's of the universe or whatever power it is that is truly behind the strings of this thing called life.  With this being said, my life is now on a particular and strange path.  I am 27, I do not want to die.  I do not want to die in 5 years, 20 or even 40 years.  I hope to live a long life with my family and friends.  I want to retire one day and spend my evenings sipping whiskey on my porch watching the sunset over some exotic ranch or beach in a country far away from here.  This is my new goal.  My life took on a new meaning the second the oncologist came back with her initial diagnosis of cancer.  The words shook my soul and for a second I truly questioned if what I was hearing was correct.  Since day one I have been preparing for the worst and mentally praying and hoping for the best.  There was always a small piece of me that was holding out for the good news, only truly knowing that there would never be any.

On a grand scale cancer is the most diverse and hardly defined area of medicine and research.  I very briefly was given a crash course in 2004 when my mother passed away from breast cancer, today I can say I am basically a mediocre oncologist.  I have done hundreds of hours of research, investigating, trials, and everything in between.  The internet is a vast and endless outlet with answers to most every question one might have.  It is simply a matter or sorting through the hogwash and finding validity in studies, research and pharmaceuticals.  Cancer has been a developing issue in the Western World since the onset of WWII.  People demanded faster, cheaper and better sustainable products forcing companies to begin using unnatural combinations of foods, chemicals and every other assortment of toxin to try and find the cheapest fastest and easiest way to manufacture object X.  After WWII we set ourselves up on the fast track to terrible health with foods soiled in unnatural pesticides, preservatives, copious amounts of sugars, fats and foods that our bodies simply did not understand.  We evolved eating a certain way for millions of years, within the last 200 years our bodies have changed more than the past 2 million.  Simply put, we can not accept this change without some rejection.  This is where cancer forms.  Cancer is what happens when your body basically starts to reject the direction your DNA is headed.  EVERYTHING YOU PUT INTO YOUR BODY DIRECTLY AFFECTS IT!  Every ounce of sugar, all the unnatural and refined meats, everything you eat will eventually become you.  It is paramount to understand that not everyone will develop cancer.  We all live with cancer cells, but not every human will have these cells stem to life and form the deadly tumors that are all too familiar.  There are hundreds of overweight people who live on diets of soda pop, burgers and fries their entire lives and never even develop high cholesterol.  But for every person who lives this lifestyle there are countless others that will one day be broken with the news that their body has ultimately turned against them and they will start the fight of their lives.  I lived this arrogance for 27 years before truly understanding exactly what I was doing.  It is ultimately ignorant and very absurd to say our diet in no way affects our lifestyle.  The fuels we use to feed our bodies are paramount in our daily fights against the millions of toxins we are unknowingly exposed to every day all day long!  Doing a simply 'google' search on air quality in your local neighborhood will open your eyes to some interesting facts.  Before the turn of the century we didn't depend on fossil fuels nearly as much as we do today.  In our modern world, we are now exposed to Millions of Tons of toxins in our atmosphere.  (Maybe those weird Chinese guys with the medical masks on aren't so dumb after all!)

My Life has changed, dramatically.  I am now a 27 year old cancer patient with an unknown future.  I hope that through my words and my own knowledge I can share what I am going through and help just a couple of people.  This is the first page of my new life.  I plan on making some very big changes in the coming weeks and months, I just hope I do not offend or piss anyone off on my way to what I think my best suited recovery is going to be.  I have been through cancer before, I have seen how evil chemo and and radiation can be and I know that there are other alternatives.  The truth and the cure is out there somewhere, it just needs to be found.  I think in time cancer will be wiped from our planet and this evil disease will become a thing of tales and folk lore, but until then I will fight the good fight.  I will carry on and never give up.  These are my promises to all of you, if you guys are up for the task, join me in making some easy changes in your lives and maybe become a little bit healthier on the way.  I truly hope you all understand the choices I am making and are not offended that I might refuse traditional Western treatment.  I am so worried that people will just accept what the doctor tells them without doing their own investigation and research, all I ask is that if you truly want to dispute my decisions, please provide me with facts, numbers, figures and scientific studies that will prove your point.  Just listening to a doctor is not excuse enough for me, I must live with the choices I make on a daily basis and I have too many people who love me to leave this earth this young.

With all of that news our of the way, I have now been out of the hospital since Wednesday.  The doctors have truly been astounded at my rate of recovery and the fact that I a literally have no symptoms or side effects from the procedure.  My sleep schedule is quite interesting and I find I get extremely tired around 7:30pm and asleep by 8pm-  Up by 3am then asleep again by 5am and finally up by 8 am again!  Last night I decided I wanted to go to dinner so after a visit from The Stearman family, Darryl and Johnny C, I went to sushi across the street from Tashas house and had an amazing roll.  Needless to say by the end of the meal I was exhausted and made it home just in time for my bi-daily meds and fell asleep.  It was exceptionally nice getting outside finally and not being stuck in bed all the time.  My daily walks are getting longer and everyday I feel my strength coming back to me.  I will be back to 100% in no time and that I can guarantee!   

Friends are fun!


My new life starts today, and from this day forward my life is eternally different.  Some people may question some of the choices I make going forward, but know that every choice I make I am putting extensive research and determination into.  With this being said everyone wants to know how they can help, well the sad truth is that most all the therapies I am going to focus on are going to expensive.  Very expensive.  I dont come from a ton of money and they money I have collected so far is going to be a great start, but I am hoping to be able to raise more not just for myself, but for others.  I have found a new passion in life and this has truly taken over my daily routine.  I hope to be able to start a foundation to work with adolescents in the same situation as myself and help mentor them as best as I can.  I truly feel like I have found a voice in something that I might be able to help make a change in this world for the better.  We will continue selling T-shirts designed by Lira and anything else you wish to contribute is awesome!  And as always, every mental hug, high five and handhake is free of charge!  (I truly think that my healing is closely associated to how much love and help I have surrounded myself with these last 2 months!) 
Here are the shirts- both styles are in black and white!

$20 =)

I am currently working on a website that will become the new medium for my 'blogging' and or story telling.  I hope to have it complete in a couple of weeks with updates on everything from my recovery to tips on how to help improve your life daily!

If ya wanna donate click here

Ryans Epic Battle

To order a shirt please email me at johnryancoffelt@gmail(dot)com - include name, size, style color and where you want it shipped :)  We will begin shipping them next week with any luck!


I leave you all today with a quote from Elbert Hubbard, "Do not take life too seriously, you will never get out of it alive."

xx
Ryan



















Friday, December 21, 2012

The past 7 days have been a crazy and emotional roller coaster.  Last Saturday I was sitting at Joe's in DT Fullerton talking and catching up with friends, re-aquatinting old friends and sparking up brand new ones.  I was and still am in a sense of relief.  What I think will be the hardest part of this entire experience is now over.  The surgery was without a doubt a scary thing to go through.  From the time it began until I awoke 6 or so hours later to me seemed only like a matter of minutes.  I know for my family it seemed so much longer and I am so thankful that they were so strong throughout it.  So for those of you interested in how a craniotomy works, from my experience at least here goes nothing!  They did all my pre admittance and paperwork the friday before the procedure.  That means I was at Kaiser in LA for about 8 hours friday afternoon slash evening.  Once we completed the marathon pre-op appointment which consisted of meeting about 8 more doctors, labs, tests, scans and everything in between Tasha and I headed back home.  It was a lonnnnnng drive home in copious amounts of traffic that I can only compare to torture.  Hungry, annoyed and tired, Tasha and I stopped at The Habbit to refill our tummies before getting back to her house.  A refreshing and welcoming meal indeed!  

Saturday was a day for relaxation.  I woke up beyond excited to see the people in my life and they came in masses!  Thank you to everyone who came out to Joe's Saturday afternoon, you will never know how much it truly meant for me to see all of your smiling faces.  The day at Joe's was spent reminiscing, laughing, smiling and trying to forget what was about to come in the next couple days.  Seeing old friends I hadn't seen in years was amazing!  There are some bonds that are just too strong to break and this is the true meaning of what it means to come together in a time of need.  Thank you to everyone who came out again!  Honestly I can not say thank you enough!  I stayed out as late as I could hang and once I knew I was starting to crash I gave Tasha the OK to stay out and hang out with her friends while I hoped in my chariot to whisk me away back home for a good nights sleep.  

Sunday came all too quick, it was a short day filled with last minute preparation, and me trying to calm down my family!  Brain surgery is not a brand new field and I like to think these doctors know what they are doing up there!  We relaxed, watched a movie, played a game, got some tea and settled in for the last night this tumor had.  This tumor has been weighing on me now for coming up on 2 months and I was at the tipping point.  I wanted it out and I needed to get the show started.  I was actually looking forward to Monday morning (waking up at 4:30am was an easy task when faced with the contrary.)  So Monday morning came.  I woke with a smile and a kiss for my girlfriend.  I attempted to make her smile and laugh one more time before we set off, but I think she was still sleeping and my joke simply went unnoticed.  Waking the rest of my family and we set off into the pre-dawn light of the early Southern California day.  The drive was exceptionally peaceful and it was almost as though I had not a care in the world.  I was at peace with however this was going to turn out and was ready to accept whatever my fate may have been.  We arrived at the hospital, checked my in and got changed into my sweet surgery attire.  

Very Stylish I must say!
After We said our goodbyes I left my family and it was time to get the party started!  Brain surgery 2012!  Here is where I kinda got confused.  I was still totally coherent and they had yet to administer any type of anestesia and yet they took me to the operating room.  For anyone who has never been in a serious emergency room type surgery room, it is pretty intimidating.  I am here basically naked with a team of about 10 people introducing themselves to me all at once.  It is FREEEEZING and all the while I am trying to stay calm and courteous.  By this point I was ready for the drugs and a nice nap.  So after about 6 or 7 minutes of chatting (which seemed like about an hour) they told me they were gonna introduce the drugs, which kicked in within a matter of seconds.  Next thing I know I am waking up and trying to get my bearings back.  I initially woke up in a recovery room with hundreds of tubes, ties, ropes, IV's and poles attached to me.  That was a bit overwhelming to I decided to go back to bed for a bit.  The second time I woke up I was greeted with the happy faces of my family.  It was such a welcoming sign and remembering EVERYTHING I knew I was well already on my path to recovery.  They transferred me to the ICU and this is where I would stay for the next day.  They would wake me up every hour on the hour to check something or verify something else.  I literally did not sleep the entire time I was in the ICU and was so ready to get out of that area of the hospital.  Tuesday afternoon they decided I can transfer to a less critical area of the hospital and be monitored from there until my release.  The doctors were all amazed at the rate of my recovery.  I was walking, talking and moving around like nothing even happened.  I had full range of motion and I honestly think my vision has gotten exceptionally better!  The only down sides I have experienced thus far are bad headaches which were taken down by a combination of morphine and a drug 10x stronger than morphine (which I decidedly refused when I found out how potent it was.)  Now I am on a non-narcotic pain med called Tramadol which clears up my pain fairly well.  Aside from the pain, I am almost always tired, which they say is just the side effects of the anestesia wearing out of my body.  I can be wide awake one second and then passed out a second later, kind of a weird feeling!  So after monitoring me and speaking with my doctor I was able to convince them to release me!  I was in and out in less than 3 days, not too bad after such an invasive procedure if I dont say so myself!  I am now home resting and recouping. 

Here is the part I did not want to address, but since we are all in this together you all need to know as much as I know when I know it.  The preliminary report came back possitive for cancer.  That is all they know.  They still dont know what my 'recommended'  treatment will be, nor how fast growing or anything else for that matter.  I prepared for cancer from the beginning and hearing the confirmation was still hard to hear.  In the back of my head I always held out a little hope that maybe it was just a bad tumor and I was gonna have it out and be on with my life again like nothing ever happened, but that stuff usually only happens in fairy tales.  Fairy tales are the epitome of perfection and holding out for an ending like that would only be unfair to myself as well as those I love.  So thats where we are as of today, and let me assure you, writing this blog has taken about 6 hours of starting and stopping!  Not an easy task yet one that you all deserve.  We are in this together and I thank you all for your love and support.  I truly wish you could all know how much I appreciate you all.  It has truly restored a bit of my faith in the human race and I hope through my experience I can somehow help you all.  THANK YOU times a million!

xx
And that goes all the way around!
-Ryan  














  











Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The hardest part has past us, Ryan's surgery. Ryan is now on his way to recovering from the monster that couldn't stand a chance, the brain tumor. Yesterday morning he had surgery to remove the tumor in his left frontal lobe of his brain.  Dr. Chen was Ryan's neurosurgeon here at Kaiser Hospital in Los Angeles.  His surgery started at 7:30am and was predicted to last about 3 to 6 hours including prep and surgery time.  I have to tell you all how amazed I was with Ryan yesterday, he didn't seem like he had one nervous bone in his body.  He was actually trying to relax me (Natashia his girlfriend) than I was him, it was pretty funny.  They called him back to prep him at about 7:30am.  The nurses got him in his gown and hooked him all up.  They called for his sisters and I to come hang with him before we was pulled into surgery.  As we walked back into the hospital, the nurses open a curtain and there was Ryan kicking back watching football.  He greeted us with high fives, kisses and a big smile. He was so relaxed I was in shock.  I couldn't believe that here was this man in front of me that was heading into brain surgery and wasn't the least bit of scared.  He came in yesterday morning with his game face on.  He was ready to kick this tumors ass, there was no doubt about it.  I am so proud of him.  

While Ryan was in surgery his family and I waited patiently for about 5 hours.  As we  saw Dr. Chen come around the corner to talk to us, we all jumped out of our chairs and crowed him.  We definitely invaded Dr. Chen's personal space while he was trying to give us the news.  Dr. Chen began to tell us how pleased he was with the surgery.  He said he was able to go in and remove all the tumor that was visible to him.  He said he thinks he was pretty successful with removing most of it, if not all of it. Today or tomorrow Ryan will have an another MRI directed by his oncologist to see if and any tumor was left behind.  Dr. Chen began to tell us that Ryan was responding well after the surgery with moving his arms and hands.  Dr. Chen told us to wait another hour for Ryan to fully wake before we went up to see him. 

Visiting Ryan in the ICU was probably the hardest thing I have ever gone through.  I have never had someone so close to me be hospitalized.  I know it's some times a part of life, but man does it suck.  I was lucky enough to walk into the room yesterday and have my boyfriend smiling at me.  It made the situation a lot easier.  As I walked up to Ryan my knees felt weak and my head felt dizzy.  If any of you know me, you know how bad I am with needles.  Seeing ryan hooked up with needles in his arms made me feel weak, and sick to my stomach.  All I wanted to do was make him feel better, not have him in pain. As we greeted each other we held hands and told each other we loved one another.  He made me instantly laugh cause he grabbed my hands and asked me how my nails were.  Before Ryan went into his surgery I told him I wasn't going to have any finger nails cause I would be bitting them off, stressing while he was in surgery.  So for him to remember that conversation post surgery, I was so relieved.  Obviously his memory was okay.  As his family and I visited him yesterday he was alert and aware.  He was joking and laughing with us which made us all happy.  Throughout the day his headaches started to progress and it was hard for him to keep any liquids down.  The nurses on staff were more than helpful and are continuing to make Ryan feel comfortable.  

Today is a new day, Tuesday December 18th, 2012.  Ryan is feeling little better than yesterday and is looking forward to the doctor coming in to help him sit up in a chair and maybe take his first steps since the surgery.  One day at a time one step at a time.  I have prayed to Ryans mom in heaven for giving Ryan the strength to get through this.  Please continue to show your love and support for Ryan.  All your prayers, love, and mental hugs have gotten Ryan this far. Thank you! 

and a note to Ryan from me :)

I love you for all that you are. All that you have been, and all you're yet to be. I love you Ryan Coffelt.

Much love- Natashia Tomek
Pre-surgery picture! 

I have been referring to him as ET with his bright red lite up finger.
Sleeping beauty!




Ryan's sister Lindsay and him

Ryan and I <3


Friday, December 14, 2012

36 hours in San Francisco and Pre Op



I decided with my good friend Kellie's help that a quick get away was needed.  I have been thinking about everything way too much and San Francisco was a great place to clear my mind before the resection is done.  Kellie is a flight attendant for Virgin America and was able to get me on a flight for nearly nothing so I packed a bag and was off to visit my friends in the Bay!  I got to SF on Tuesday morning.  I took the first flight out so I was lucky enough to be up at 4:30am to carpool with another flight attendant friend and catch a ride on her plane.  Needless to say, the service was second to none and the flight was a breeze. (Thanks Caity!)

Once I got to the city it was like I never left.  I used to spend a lot of time in SF when I was living in San Luis Obispo and this was the first time I have been there in a few years.  Anyone who has ever been in San Fran knows the great smells you are immediately greeted with, the smell of piss and smelly homeless people- it is a welcoming smell that I missed.  Navigating the city can also be a task unless you are willing to fork out some cash for a cab.  I was up to the task and meeting up with Alissa was my first stop.   So off I headed on the Bart via bus number 30 to her amazing digs in the Marina district of San Francisco.  After setting down my bags and meeting Kobe (the most adorable Frenchie you will ever see) we set off for breakfast.  San Francisco has some of the most amazing (and pricey) food in California, if not the entire US.  It was an awesome breakfast, we finished up and headed out for a stroll around the marina.  SF is truly an amazing and beautiful city unlike any other in the world.  It is extremely congested yet oddly free and open.  You can be in the middle of the bustling city and walk 10 minutes to find a bubble of free space and alone time.  Alissa and I spent the whole morning just walking and talking.  It was extremely refreshing and we had some time to kill before Kelsey arrived!  Kelsey, being the spontaneous free spirit she is, decided on a whim to come and join me in San Francisco for 24 hours.  Now that is a turn around trip!

We greet Kelsey at the bus stop and head back to the flat after random encounter #1: running into Colleen (another high school friend) in the marina.  Back at her place, Alissa made by far the best vegan 'mac 'n cheese' I have ever had.  It was a great meal and even better conversation.  After dinner, Kelsey and I took a stroll through The Presidio and nearly froze in the cold San Francisco mist.  A long day to say the least and I was more than ready to go to bed.  We headed back and I was in for A TREATTTT in the morning!

Here is where the bad news starts.  I was supposed to stay in San Francisco until Thursday evening, but that was quickly changed.  Wednesday morning around 5am I woke with a splitting headache much worse than any I have had.  I got out of bed and tried to lay on the couch and focus on some never-ending infomercial about who knows what and no matter what I tried the headache continued to worsen.  About 20 minutes went by and I nearly had to sprint to the bathroom before throwing up.  This was an interesting feat seeing as how I had not eaten nor drank anything in the last 8+ hours so where all the fluids came from is beyond me.  After a couple more trips to the porcelain I decided I might wanna be closer to my doctor in case of an emergency so I called Kellie and asked her to work her Virgin America magic and get me on a flight back to LA that evening.  I was finally able to start to calm down around 9 or 10, the longest 4 hours of my life.  Kellie changed my flight and I was set to return later that day, but I was not about to let this little mishap completely ruin the rest of my trip so Alissa, Kelsey and I set out about the town.

Random encounter #2: Colleen eating breakfast!  Yep, we ran into Colleen again on our way to stroll the city.  We walked around for a bit then decided to grab our bags and head down to Union Square where we will eventually catch the bart back to the airport.  A couple photos and a bit of shopping later and I found myself back on a plane.  36 hours after arriving in the city, I was back on the plane leaving it for an unknown fate.  I am so thankful for the time I had and even as bad as the morning was, it was all worth it.  I had an amazing time; finally visited my friend who has been in the city for nearly three years and Kelsey even decided to join!  It was a much needed retreat for what I got to do today.





Friends.



#Bartlife



Palace of Fine Arts 


Today, was PRE-OP!!!!  Sounds fun, right?  It consisted of: arrival, meetings with nurse practitioner, meeting with oncologist number one, oncologist number two (who was quite a character and reminded me of the white guy from 'Half Baked'), physician assistant, anesthesiologist, accounting and check in lady, EKG, chest x-ray, blood lab work, prescriptions and lots of waiting rooms around 3 different buildings.  All of this was followed by a gorgeous 2 hour drive home in just about the most epic traffic I have experienced.  Natashia was a saint and stuck through it all with me!

I am exceptionally tired now and tomorrow is going to be a longer day than today.  I truly hope I can see you all tomorrow, even if it is just a hello!  There will be fun times and you can order to your epic shirt there as well.  


Night friends.

Ryan

Monday, December 10, 2012

The following is something I wrote a year after my mom passed.  It is kinda long, but it is a testament to how I still feel.  I do not think I deserve sympathy, I know there are people out there far more deserving than I.  I am going through a tough time, THAT IS ALL.  Regardless of the outcome I know I am stronger than ever before.  Please feel free to share this with anyone you want.     *Warning, it has some bad language.  


It has been one year now.  I thought I could run.  My feet could't carry me fast enough.  If you tried all your life, you could run 60,000 miles and your fears would just smile and become your shadow during the day and your lonely silence at night.  This last year my life has changed more than any past 365 days.  I went from destruction to depression.  From faithless to lost and back again.  Every corner I turned  I felt like I was being hit by a new truck right in the face.  Epiphany  after drunken epiphany I thought I had everything tabbed, filed and correlated.  Every balance obtained and I need to accept my shitty life.  My shitty life…  Around the 10th or so 'acceptance,' this is when I realized and figured out my ultimate and unreeling selfishness.  I had nothing but sympathy for myself- bull shit.  I could't even validate my own thoughts anymore.  Coward isn't the right word, but it is the first that comes to mind.  How much more sleep can I endure?  Maybe one day I can wake up in another state? Country? World?  Fuck that, you need to get your head straight and realize this is NOT about you.  Here is the reality, your beautiful mother of not even 50 having a good and normal life with some typical struggles is now dead.  She woke up on day and found out she was going to die within the next 6 months.  TKO blow to your face.  You will never see your kids marry.  You will never get to see your grandson have his first anything.  You will never go to that tropical island your have dreamed about for so long.  No dream car, no retirement and sure as shit know there won't be anymore extravagant dinners.  All those retirement plans become last second heeds trying to live 50 years in two months because you already know the last 3 or so months you will be so drugged up that you are either too tired, sick or simply can't function to do anything else.  Your newborn grandson, guess what?  You won't even see his first birthday.  You hardly even see him anymore because you will be sleeping your life away or trying to figure out where it all went so terribly wrong.  

Now that you are open to all of those thoughts, lets throw in some extremely aggressive chemo and a couple sides of radiation.  Lets poison you nearly to the point of death and take away any smidgen of health you had left in the hopes that you can 'live' an extra 25 days.  You are now a walking, talking, living pharmacy.  The link between man and medicine in person!  Torture isn't the right word, but it is the first that comes to mind.  Now lets throw in your day to day hatred for what you have become.  Helpless.  Delusional.  Sad.  So sad.  Depression is not even in your vocabulary because it does not even begin to explain the anguish and hate you feel every time you lay in your bed and feel yourself slowly killing yourself from the inside out.  

Fuck it, those would be my thoughts.  I have suffered enough and this is getting to be a bit ridiculous.  But what about your family?  6 months is a long time on a scale of 6 months and if that is all the time you have to say goodbye to the ones you love than you better live the shit out of what you can.  But lets not be foolish, we all know you can only pray and hope to be in an induced sleep state the last few weeks because the pain will be so bad you will pray for more drugs so you can just overdose and get it over with.  Looking in the mirror and you seriously, 100% hands fucking down don't even recognize your own reflection.  You don't know what you have become.  You do, but you try not to accept it.  You are the walking dead.  Every time you see your newborn grandsons face, every time you see your daughters smiling face, every commercial torturing you with that bright blue sky and white sandy beach is just another pitiful reminder of what you will never see again.  Another reminder that your last resort is seeming more and more like your first choice.  Put yourself in this situation.  Accept the fact that you are going to die without going crazy and killing yourself first.  Thats a task in it's own. . .  Then be willing to open your eyes every time after the hundreds of times you sleep and wake.  Days don't even make sense anymore - it just become sleep interrupted by the attempt to force feed yourself the food your body needs to 'survive'.  Sleep, food, pills, pills, pills, pills.  Sleep.  You find yourself hoping you can just sleep the rest of your life away by this point.  At least in your dreams you can find a smidgen of false hope or happiness- thats if you are lucky.  And so thats it.  Thats all you have, all you get.  If you can imagine, your one bedroom apartment has become the death ward of yourself- that is until your children can no longer care for you and you need to be transferred to a hospice care facility.  There you are, if you can imagine.  Denial, not the right word, but sure as hell the first that comes to mind.  Fucked.  Bed ridden, dirty, hurting, depression, the kind of depression that seems more like torture.  The dead living.  Thats you if you can imagine.  Your goodbyes to your loved ones.  Holding your grandson for the last time and trying to hold onto him for as long as you can.  Every breathe you take brings you one step closer to the end.  All of a sudden your life starts being measured in 'lasts' as opposed to 'firsts.'  Hold on as long as your piece of shit killer will let you.  As long as you will let yourself, because thats what you are.  You are your own murderer sentencing yourself to death.  You are taking everything you love from yourself and have no choice.  6 months of _ _ _ _ _ _.  <---Insert worst imaginable word here.  A word that hasn't even been thought of.  Maybe a series of words, but we all know there is no word.  Nothing can describe this.

All of a sudden my 'fucked up' life doesn't seem so bad.  My broken heart seems more like a paper cut.  Your failed relationships and fucked up problems with your parents become minuscule compared to what it could be.  I don't know if you get it, but yes- there are most certainly people out there that are worse off than you in every way imaginable.  Even at the end my mother had us.  She had her family and the people who love her to stand by her side and make sure she was as comfortable as possible.  There are people all over who don't even have that.  There is most certainly people out there deserving of sympathy out there, but you are not one.  Nor am I.  If you can read this and walk out of your room or work with your family and people who love you and truly care about how you are, you have more than enough.  This is why I got those words tattooed on my arm. "No Sympathy"  Not because I am a dick, or think I am superior in anyway, it is the opposite.  I looked at my life and knew I didn't deserve even a sorrowful thought.  I deserve no sympathy, much like you deserve no sympathy.  When you lose your job, your car breaks down, your $500 Louis Vatton bag is stolen, and your boyfriend dumps you, I will say I am sorry.  I will do my best to console people who need to be consoled, but I will not be sympathetic.  I know deep down that there are people far worse off than you and you need to realize this as well.  The arbitrary conflicts with your friends and family all start to seem more and more pointless.  All I am saying, like the millions who have said it before me is that you need to realize what it is you have before it is gone.  I never really understood this as much as I do now.  It seems to resonate so clearly now and I truly know it has been an awakening.  Everyday I wake up and look at a picture, the last picture my  mother took.  One with us as a family sitting on her couch, her bald from the wears of chemo and all of us smiling.  It is all I have left and I wish for one more day.  One more chance to hold me and tell her I love her.  Tell her how awesome of a job she did raising her family and let her know that her children will be ok without her.  Let her hold her grandson one more time and let her have one last cigarette.  One more laugh.  One more touch.  But I can't.  She is gone and all I am left with now is a slowly detereorating camera in my head that will eventually start to wear.  I am thankful for that  at least.  

6 months of living not knowing what was going to happen next.  6 months to live a whole lifetime of memories with the women I love the most does not seem fair.  Trying to hang on to every smile, every second and the rare laugh.  My mother is my hero.  She is the strongest human I have ever known and went through hell and back like a champ and held her head high.  Knowing that she is no longer suffering brings a small amount of relief to me.  Only enough to hold back the tears that want to come flooding to my head every time I see her picture.  She is watching over me and keeping me safe.  This is not a cry for sympathy or anything of that nature, I am simply having a shitty day and I am sick of listening to people tell me how bad they have it.  If your friends are dicks, stop being friends with them.  For most all our problems there is an easy solution.  My mother's only solution was death and that was what she faced for 6 months.  A 6 month death sentence while being tortured... Prisoners on death row don't even have it this hard.
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On a lighter note, Thank you to everyone for everything.  I love you all exponentially and I hope I get to hug and kiss you all feverishly on Saturday.  

Ryan
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Thursday, December 6, 2012

I need your help! =)

Friends!  Everyone has been asking how they can help since day one.  You guys have been there and all of your kind words, prayers and mental hugs have kept me going up until now.  I have been quite stubborn and insistent on doing everything myself and not accepting help from anyone, but as I do more and more research and find out more and more about what I will be facing it is becoming clear to me that this is going to get reallllly expensive realllllly quick.  I already have a stack of medical bills and it is only getting bigger as the surgery approaches (not sure what that is going to cost.)   On top of the surgery, I am going to need post operation therapy.  The thing about modern healthcare, is that they refuse to accept that there is any other way to cure cancer besides chemo and radiation therapy.   My thoughts were initially the same, but the more I read about chemo and radiation therapy, the less I buy into it.  For those who do not know how it works, chemotherapy is basically a poison.  Well it is poison and was initially designed as a weapon during WWI.  I know this chemical can maybe help cure me, but I think our bodies were designed to cure themselves.  The human body is capable of doing some amazing things and I don't think it is so far stretched to think that we can destroy whatever it is inside us that has been corrupted into harming us.  With this idea I have been endlessly searching for ways to return my body back to the way it was before this disease entered my brain.  I want to feel pure and whole again and to do this I am finding some pretty convincing therapies.  I went through chemo with my mother and it was pure torture.  I do not wish to experience that myself and I think anyone who has been through it will tell you the same.  With this is mind, I hope that you guys will help me anyway possible.  Even if it is just a dollar, it all adds up and we can fight this together.  Lets set out and prove the Western World that there is a cure for cancer and it is all around us, lets decide poisoning our bodies to the point of near death is not an acceptable 'cure' and lets get healthy :)  Even if you can't afford to help, I am still accepting mental hugs, words of wisdom, prayers, and high fives for free.  Thanks so much and I love you all.  

Here is a link to the fundraising page my sister so lovingly put together.

Ryan's Cure!

Thanks again for any help you can offer.  I appreciate all of you so much!

Ryan

Monday, December 3, 2012

Round 2.

The date is "set" again hopefully this time it sticks.   December 17th 2012 is the last day this tumor will know my body. The functional MRI came back and the tumor was a "safeish" distance from any vital areas in my brain.  The doctors said I could go either way, awake or asleep. The explorer and adventurist part of me wanted to do it awake while the safe and rational Ryan was more for the asleep.  In the end I decided to do the procedure while under and my rationale was a two part decision: 1) the doctor informed me that during the awake procedure they will constantly be talking to me and at the first sign of any impairment on me they will abort the procedure. This is definitely the safer way, but since they are going to be working in my brain chances are I could lose a bit of speech during the procedure.  The thing is, the tumor is not that "close" to my primary speech center.  This is where the majority of my speech comes from and as long as this area stays o.k. chances are I will eventually regain all speech functions.  I would hate to do an awake surgery, have my speech become impaired and they abort it only to have my speech eventually return to normal.  So yea, I will be taking a smaller risk and could potentially come out of this with some tough times in communication, but they seem semi-optimistic that it would eventually all return.  (Doctors are very tricky in their wording and leave every possible door open just to cover their asses, it is quite amusing.)  As far as speech goes it is an interesting thing that happens.  I will know exactly what I want to say in my mind, but my brain won't communicate those thoughts properly to my mouth to allow me to verbalize them.  So when I see you post-op, don't laugh at me when I can't complete my sentences =).  The second reason I decided to do this asleep is because I simply feel more comfortable with Dr. Chen.  Dr. Pikul seemed like he wanted to do the awake procedure just because he could.  I could be extremely off base and I am sure he has the best intentions, but I just seemed to get a safer and more confident feeling from Dr. Chen.  That being said, both doctors are extremely well qualified, educated and fantastic doctors and I had to make a choice.     



This guys days are numbered #December17

Pondering how I could get my brain to look like that again.
This whole road has been such a crazy road, it still has not yet sunk in.  I do not think it ever will sink in.  It is hard for me to imagine my own body trying to kill itself (myself)?  It is quite a strange feeling to have your body suddenly turn against you and I truly hope none of my friends ever have to go through this.  You guys have been amazing, awesome, loving, thoughtful, tremendous and every other positive word I can think of and I can not thank everyone enough.  This is definitely going to be step one of about 25,000, but every journey starts somewhere.  I have meetings with oncologists, anesthesiologists and every other "gist" you can think of on the Friday before the procedure.  I would love more than anything to see all my friends the following day (Saturday the 15th) at a place soon to be determined.  I hope you all are doing exceptionally and see you you all soon!    

I will leave you today with a quote from our ex-president Mr. George W. Bush,

'I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn't here.''

—President George W. Bush, at the President's Economic Forum in Waco, Texas, Aug. 13, 2002

Ryan
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