Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Kurt B. on November 7, 2013
I was Diagnosed with:
Gemistocytic Astrocytoma in Left Temporal Lobe
Date of Diagnosis:
March 10, 2011
Employment Status:
Worked for 2 years, now unemployed/disability
Gender/Age:
Male/49
Type and Description of Treatments:
Learned of tumor (March 2011) after MRI to understand seizures I began to experience. Seizures were 90 seconds of unusual smell, somewhat light headed but conscious. Had surgery four days after discovery for partial removal. Did not go forward with radiation/chemo and returned to work in three weeks. MRI's conducted regularly to understand if there was additional growth. Two years later (May 2013), growth in tumor was identified and I had 6 week program of radiation and chemotherapy. Continuing on now with 13 four week periods of taking Temodar (450 mg) for 5 days followed by 23 days without.
How do you feel today?

Happy to be alive. Physically still active, have increased fatigue, but occasional naps help. Memory and attention span is challenging to say the least, but trying to improve. Experience side effects from chemo and nausea meds when I am on them for the 5 straight days.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

Original diagnosis was March 2011. Did return to work quickly, but didn't acknowledge my changes in memory, ability to verbalize thoughts, and attention span.

In March of 2012 I learned of my wife having an affair. Divorce process started by April 2012.

In February 2013 I began to acknowledge that my cognitive skills had changed. I took IQ type tests through my doctor to document by current standing. It revealed I had significant memory and attention issues, but intelligence remained high.

April 2013 was announced that I was being laid off. Immediately filed for disability because I knew something was wrong.

May 2013 MRI showed tumor growth and I moved on to radiation and chemotherapy treatment for 6 weeks, and increased chemo for the next 13 - four week periods.

Divorce finalized in June 2013. Continue to look for work, but have applied for disability because of the memory/treatment issues.

What is going well for you right now?

Since the growth was discovered in May, my girlfriend has helped me with my diet. Reducing sugar and carbs which are linked to tumor growth. Have lost 35 pounds, regularly taken vitamin D, C, multiple, and Omega-3. Increased green smoothies as well. So despite everything, physically things are better than they would be had I not made some changes in diet and the support of my girl friend. November 2013 the MRI confirmed the tumor was stable, no growth.

What is not going well for you right now?

The stress of having gone through divorce, trying to maintain relationship with my children, having a brain tumor, trying to confirm LT disability from Cigna, and looking for work. All this and I need to keep a positive attitude!

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

Forgetting about it at times and enjoying life. Trying to maintain/improve relationships with my three teenagers who are going through dad with cancer, divorce and high school stress.

When difficulties overwhelm you, where do you go for support?

My girlfriend, church, a long walk with my boxer, Maggie.

How have your long-term goals or life goals changed since diagnosis?

Yes - I want to enjoy life while I am living.

What is your work arrangement right now? What are your hours?

Not employed. Work arrangement is looking for work.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your work life?

After original brain tumor diagnosis and surgery I returned to work extremely fast - in three weeks. Ultimately the impact of memory/attention I believe impacted me being laid off, and certainly impacts my ability to find my next job.

If "today's you" could give advice to "day-of-diagnosis you," what would you say?

Take control of yourself, research you nutritional intake needs and make proper adjustments, have faith in yourself and put effort into enjoying the time you have with others.