Dogwood Blossoms, Easter, and Symbolism


Image

One of my favorite flowers blooming around Easter is the blossoms found on the Dogwood trees that grow nearby.  Why?  If you will briefly study the flower with me, you will see 5 things that remind me of Christ’s sacrifice for us that is celebrated at Easter.

1.  Like all flowers, as they explode from dormant, seemingly dead trees, the blossoms represent life after death.

2.  The four petals form the shape of a cross on which Jesus was crucified.

3.  If you look closely, you’ll see a touch of red/brown, which is reminiscent of the blood Christ shed for us.

4.  The center of the blossom reminds us of the crown of thorns that was forced on the head of our Lord.

5.  The white of the flower reminds us of the purity of the Son of God.

Isn’t it amazing that nature provides us with reminders of who God is?  All we have to do is slow down to look and listen.

 

 

 

Sheryl Crow and Brain Tumor Surgery- Part 2


This is part 2 of my thoughts concerning the article: Sheryl Crow: ”I have a brain tumour – but I don’t want it removed” that appeared in the tabloid the Daily Mirror.  At the end of part 1, I stated that I am pretty sure that I owe Sheryl Crow an apology and said that I would detail why in this post.  Be forewarned, this post will wander across a number of related topics, but I think it does all stay on the general point.

My mistakes last week were that: I didn’t notice that the story only showed up in a tabloid; l allowed myself to be sucked into the article’s title; took things out of context; and zeroed in on part of one sentence attributed to Sheryl Crow.  In retrospect, what I did was no worse than tabloid reporting – I sensationalized information about a celebrity to suit my agenda.  I apologize to Sheryl Crow (if she is listening), to my friends on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and to the social media brain tumor community.

What got me worked up was what I viewed as a dangerous commentary on the gravity of a brain tumor diagnosis.  My worry is that people would watch Crow’s reactions to her brain tumor and make decisions based on that instead of medical science.  There is a sort of vacuum out there regarding brain tumors, and I just don’t want it filled by the wrong things.

Upon further review of the article, it appears to me that Crow has faced the reality of her diagnosis and had to make the choices we all have to make regarding quality of life.  Who am I to criticize her choices?  I have no idea of her particular circumstances.  All I know is that she has a meningioma, which is a benign brain tumor, one that grows slowly.  As with any tumor, so many factors matter: How big is it?  Where is it?  Has it “shown” itself with side effects (seizures, double vision, etc.)?  If it has shown itself, in what manner has it done so?  How aggressive is it? How old is the patient?  What is the overall health of the patient?  What attitude does the patient have?  What is the standard treatment and its risks?  What is the most aggressive treatment and its risks?  What would happen if nothing is done?  All of this makes for a very complex and difficult decision.

I can only assume that Crow has taken all these data points into consideration, together with any relevant other information to arrive at her treatment decisions.  Additionally, the whole cancer thing is not new to her having survived breast cancer.  The mistake that I and others have made or will make is to assume either that her decisions are right or wrong or that she is championing a course of action for others.

Now comes the difficult part of this post: my own situation and decisions are “just as bad” as Crows, leaving me even less room to criticize Crow.  The recommended treatment for my tumor type is surgery followed by concurrent chemotherapy and radiation.  I did not have surgery and did chemotherapy and radiation sequentially, with chemotherapy coming first.

You might ask why on earth would somebody choose to vary from recommended treatment.  Just like I now assume Crow did, I balanced the factors that are unique to me and made my decision.  Here are some of the things that came into play:

  • Although it graded malignant, my brain tumor is a slow growing.
  • The location of my tumor is favorable.
  • My tumor has a genetic anomaly that makes it more vulnerable and responsive to a particular chemotherapy and to radiation.
  • There were almost no outward signs of the presence of the brain tumor.
  • The tumor did not have defined edges making surgery a bit unpredictable.  Doctors like to see situations in which 95% or more of a tumor can be safely removed and the range of opinion went from 40% removal to 85% by the most aggressive surgeon.

After praying, getting opinions from brain tumor centers, consulting with other doctors I knew, talking with my family, praying some more, and being prayed for by others, I decided on my course of action.

Is the course of action I took the right one for everybody?  NO.  Is the course of action I took the right one for somebody with a similar fact pattern?  It is no more than another data point and is not determinative of anything.  Is the course of action I took the right one for me?  Still undetermined.  The road has not been easy, but, by God’s grace, I have a stable (and smaller) brain tumor today and will hit the five year make this summer.

I thank and praise the Lord and my savior for where I’ve been, where I am now, and where I will be in the future.

Olivia Wise will “Roar” no more


Olivia Wise

It is sad news whenever a battle with a brain tumor is lost, but this loss is a bit more acute. Teenager Olivia Wise captured everyone’s attention when her cover of Katy Perry’s “Roar” took YouTube by storm.  Soon thereafter, Katy Perry “Roared” back with her own video message.

Sadly, Olivia passed away November 25, 2013, at the age of 16 and will roar no more. However, her roar will echo for quite some time and those of us remaining behind need to pick up her roar and demand a cure for brain tumors.

God bless you Olivia

Be Thankful in All Circumstances


Image

For people with brain tumors, the idea of being thankful even though they have a brain tumor may certainly seem foreign.  I am certainly not the man with all the answers, but I do think the attitude is worth considering, if not following.  The little saying in the photo is perhaps one way to move to a thankful attitude.  Now, I do understand that there will be some in the brain tumor community who cannot imagine any set of circumstance that could be worse, and I, in no way, have any intention of offending you.

So, why do I like this statement and the idea of being thankful in all circumstances?  For me, one of the “side effects” of having a brain tumor is that it is far too easy to become self-absorbed.  After all, you take note of just about anything, from a headache to a stumble to a forgotten word.  The cost of this is (and my case has been) a certain level of withdrawal from friends and family; becoming distant and not fully engaged.  Of course, faltering relationships adds to an already stressful situation.

Will attempting to achieve a thankful attitude may present a challenge that you cannot meet, it will help turn your focus outward for a period of time.  In other words, when you begin contemplating the people who would be willing to trade spots with you, your focus, by necessity shifts outward instead of inward.  Give it a try.

Happy Thanksgiving.

One Thing Leads to Another


This may be the perfect follow-up to yesterday’s post, “What’s Good About a Brain Tumor?” that explored the idea of being thankful to God in all circumstances.

After completing a 4,164-mile cross-country bicycle ride this summer, David Freeze developed blood clots.  Upon their discover, testing and treatment began.  As a final test, the doctor ordered an MRI of the brain.  That MRI revealed a brain tumor.  The bike ride finished on August 8, 2013 and the tumor was discovered on October 4, 2013.

No course of action has been decided yet, but David says: “Remember, I can still outrun every one of you. I’m going to catch you and make you smile. This is a time for lots of smiles.”

Read more.

What’s Good About a Brain Tumor?


My pastor was speaking yesterday about being thankful to God in all circumstances.  This seems to be an absurd concept in the case of a brain tumor diagnosis.  The again, maybe not.

My pastor told a story about when he was a pastor at a small country church in the deep south.  The parsonage sat in the middle of a grave yard.  That is not a location of which most people would be thankful, By he tells this story.

As is the custom in small southern towns (its not really limited to small southern towns), people often brought food to the pastor.  On one such occasion, the food item delivered was raw chitlins for cooking.  For the uninitiated, chitins are the intestines of a pig and would best be described as an “acquired taste.”  Having not acquired the taste my pastor had to do something to get rid of the chitlins and could not throw them away because members of his congregation hauled his trash to the dump (no garbage pick-up in the country.  He then realized he was living in the middle of a place where things were buried.  So, under the cover of darkness, he buried the chitlins in the grave yard.  He could thereafter say without hesitation that he was thankful for living in a grave yard.

Another example of how seemingly bad things can become something for which you can be thankful.  My friend’s husband had to have a “routine” hip replacement.  In the pre-op assessment, a heart condition was discovered that could have suddenly killed him.  She now tells everyone how thankful she is for needed hip replacement surgery.

You get the drift, many things that can knock to your knees can be viewed as a blessing.  For me, the brain tumor has caused me to lean hard on God and improve my relationship with Him, sharpened my focus, enabled me to speak about my faith with more confidence, led me to take a renewed interest in exercising to maintain my strength, driven me to become a passionate and compassionate participant in #BrainTumorThursday,  I am therefor thankful for my brain tumor.

Without doubt many others have found ways to be thankful for my brain tumor.  On such example is found on the PRISM BALANCE blog.  Although I’ve mentioned it before, The Not-So-Obvious Benefits of Brain Surgery is a great post that also provides some things that can make a brain tumor something for which you can be thankful.

So, my challenge to you is to consider whether you can be thankful for anything related to you brain tumor.  If you are so inclined, please consider sharing it below.  Additionally, if you think I’m insane of this idea is crazy, please comment below if you are so inclined.

A subsequent post is related to this post.