The faces of change are worn in many shades, colors and emotions. Eleven years a survivor, once introduced to the notion of having a brain tumor, life would give me the chance to wear many faces. I start working backwards from today; I am still a fighter, and still face many challenges. Today my face is one of hope, with that ever present underground trembling of fear just below the surface. With each new MRI, time marks the blessings of fate; yet, the price is high, in the world of surviving. It is not a negative picture I paint, but one of reality, where the ability to work, secure sufficient insurances, economic stability, and some sense of personal freedom and independence is out of reach for some.
The years have been hard, and the loss great; yet, the loss is not what defines me. I have this super inner strength to stand for people of disability - people who struggle, those who must overcome in order to achieve. I have become a better man due to my diagnoses. As the years turned, I have worn the face of defeat, sadness, and anger; but, I always come back around to joy, peace, a presence, a immediate thankfulness of just being alive to see the next day and to love family and friends. My child's presence becomes the blessing it should be, and nothing is taking for granted. It is all appreciated. What you lose in life, career, home, some personal relationships, and physical abilities, are replaced by this soul...filled to the rim with passion and a joy for living.
I could never have made it through the times doing chemotherapy, seizures, surgery, without the love of others. Caregivers are a special breed. I have seen many who cannot do it; but, I have been overwhelmed by those who can: selfless, giving, and knowing the perfect balance between help, and honoring one's own ability to struggle through the learning process. God bless them all. You never know, that day, the first time, that first MRI, when you are ready for another routine day at work, and your left side goes numb. You fear, you meet it with doubt, and with bravery; but, you mostly pray the shock will wake you from a very bad dream! The first time, laying in the hospital, it is the words you never want to hear: "You have a brain tumor!"
When alone, I think the face I wear the most is one of gratitude. When the tears come, they are for the journey I have endured: the support, love, kindness, all the silent moments alone, God, and me taking that next step. Yes, when i think of my journey, the face I love the most is the one of gratitude for the brain tumor that attacked my world, and left me upside down. Over time, I learned to stand again, and it left me a better man than I ever was before.