So last week was the 3rd Annual Chris Elliott Fund “Brains Matter” Luncheon. I participated as the keynote speaker. I wouldn’t say that I was perfect, but I think I accomplished my goals for the event. I have to say that it was awesome to continue to see amazing support from friends and family. I had over 4 tables of people there. A huge thanks to everyone as I can’t express how wonderful it is to be lifted up through this entire process by people who not only care, but show up and give their time and resources to helping with my battle. I feel truly blessed.
Some of the most memorable parts of the event, for me, came before the start. I spoke with parents who recently lost their son to GBM (Glioblastoma multiforme). GBM is the most wicked type of brain cancer around. He was 29 years-old and had fought a valiant fight for 5 years. I met a gentleman who has been fighting GBM for the past two years. The founder of CEF , Chris Elliott, died from a GBM. His two kids were about the same age as Colby and Cade when he was diagnosed. During the last year and a half I have met many people who are battling brain cancer. The truth is that you can tell that something happened – something beyond just a stunning scar. My speech was entitled “Lucky” I have to say that it is moments like those that I feel even more lucky. For the most part, I don’t think that people can tell that I had brain surgery – maybe aside from the scar. But I think if someone saw me today who I had not seen prior to my surgery and treatment, I don’t think they would be able to tell that anything happened to me. I think they would be surprised to know. I think that at work, new clients who aren’t aware, have no idea of the journey I have been through and would not think that something like that happened to me. I will say that the luncheon left me wondering “Why?” Not why do I have brain cancer. Honestly I think I am way past that question. I always have and still think that there is a reason that I have brain cancer – which is now my new mission – a mission that I am not really sure what it looks like. My question is “Why did I get an Oligodendroglioma and not a GBM? The stats on brain cancer suck – 90% of those diagnosed with brain cancer die within five years of the date of diagnosis. I have written about being the exception. Being the exception to the stats on brain cancer, to being different than the standard. But sometimes I feel like I am cheating as I already am the exception. My type of brain cancer doesn’t follow those stats – I am already outside those stats. Granted my type of brain cancer is still included with the stats – but it raises the stats, not lowers. Now granted everything can change in an instant. Many have succumb to my type of tumor. There is no cure, no man-made solution for Goliath. Yes my cancer is also terminal. The stats say that it will eventually kill me. But still, why am I not fighting against something much worse. Why am I not battling a GBM? Why am I given this grace? Why I am different than the 29-year-old that lost his battle with brain cancer. Why? This question strengthens my resolve and my mission, to do what I can to raise awareness and support for brain cancer. But still at times, it just doesn’t make sense to me on why I have been given this chance to fight, and a puncher’s chance to win this battle. Why do I deserve to be the exception? Why?
The problem with Why is that there is no answer, no solution, no results – just never ending questions and speculation. Thus the question needs to shift from why I am given more time and grace, to “what” am I going to do about it? In the “what” is where I find my challenge. As in, “what” am I going to do about this diagnosis? “What” am I going to do to make a difference, to change the outcome. I think the “what” will define the why. I think not until I fulfill whatever obligations I have to the “what”, will I truly know the why.