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Back in Action

April 18, 2013

First of all, I would like to state for the record that this blog has ruined me. I have had to resist so many urges to bring this site up and write about what I ate for breakfast, how good this one television show is, or how much I hate Justin Beiber. Blogging is like Twitter for people who are extra wordy and in general, like to pontificate.  This is going to be a constant struggle for me.

On to the important stuff: This afternoon at 1PM, I went in to HCMC to meet with Dr. Galicich  regarding the biopsy of my brain tumor. He was in surgery all morning, and I could tell that he was exhausted. That said, he gave me a lot of information which sort of made me regret getting a C in biology in college. I’ll do my best to regurgitate what he told me in a tangible way.

As a bit of background, this biopsy was important because it would tell us if it’s a brain tumor or if it spread from the tumor from my rectum, which will indicate how we treat it. Dr. Galicich didn’t go into many pleasantries, and pretty much started off the conversation by telling me that this was a primary brain tumor, meaning that it did not spread from anywhere else.  Furthermore, it wasn’t a “normal” tumor, and was relatively unique in that it contained properties of two different kinds of brain tumors. The first is called oligodendroglioma (the name of my first girlfriend in junior high, weird), which is apparently very susceptible to chemotherapy and responds well to radiation. The second is called glioblastoma, which apparently is the most aggressive form of brain tumor, but also the most common. Dr. Galicich told me that the oligodendroglioma presence is a very, very good thing because it makes it much more likely that radiation and chemotherapy treatment will go well.

Okay so here is where I got lost a little bit; he also told me that they are waiting on one more result of the lab work, and it has to do with a deletion of a chromosome on the tumor itself (anyone who is a science nerd that can provide a 5th grade explanation of this, I would appreciate it). They are currently testing if the chromosome 1P/19Q is present or deleted on the tumor. Apparently,  if it is deleted, that will also further enhance the success of my treatment.

In any case, it is clear now that this is a primary brain tumor, and that I will have to have both radiation and chemotherapy for it. This was actually not all that surprising, as the oncologists at HCMC made it pretty clear that the rectal cancer moving up to the brain would be very, very rare without also infecting my lungs and liver, which…thankfully, are free of cancer.

So what are the next steps? Dr. Galicich suggested I see a Doctor by the name of John Trusheim, who apparently is one of the best neurology oncologists in the country; I have an appointment with him on April 24th at Abbott Northwestern. Dr. Galicich also said that people start chemotherapy and radiation well after 2 weeks have passed from brain surgery. That said, the tumor in my rectum poses a problem. That has to be removed surgically, and I am assuming that this will have to happen fairly soon, which will also complicate the treatment date for the brain tumor.

I’ll be honest, I am a little frustrated. I feel like I am fighting a war on two fronts…one in my brain and one in my butt. I need to have surgery on my butt, but I also need to get treatment going for the removed brain tumor. It’s all a little overwhelming. That said, I am working with very good doctors who can help me get this all figured out. As I’ve said before, I am the kind of person who always like to have a plan, and right now, there are a lot of proverbial balls in the air, but we will get it all sorted out soon.

Also, I have to figure out where I am going to get all the cancer treatment. In all honestly, HCMC has been absolutely wonderful. The doctors and nurses have been smart and kind. They also know my case fairly well at this point, and know that I have rectal cancer and as well. That said, Dr. Galicich made it very clear that I would be best off regarding the chemo/radiation for the brain tumor with Dr. John Trusheim at Abbott. I’d rather do all the treatment all in one place, but moving everything to Abbott introduces it’s own challenges. For example, I don’t know any of the oncologists there, whereas I know and trust 3 of the main oncologists at HCMC, all of whom have made me feel like a priority. Moreover, at this point, Abbott does not know that I have rectal cancer as well, which I am sure will be a process in getting all the information moved from HCMC to the doctors at Abbott. Finally, HCMC is super convenient for me. It’s two blocks away from my condo, so I can get there from home or work with relative ease. That said, if Abbott is where I’ll best be treated, clearly the leg work will be worth it.

On a side note, I have started back at work this week – working from home for the time being. This has been absolutely awesome; it’s been such a relief to focus on issues and problems that can actually be solved within a relatively short time frame. Oddly enough, these work problems also don’t seem as stressful as they used to be, which makes me want more and more of them.

As another aside, I have also decided that once this whole cancer thing is over and done with, I am going on a 3 week vacation to Europe. Destinations currently being considered are Rome, Vienna, Berlin, Copenhagen, and Oslo. I may also end the trip in Vegas for the hell of it too.

All in all, I am doing very well. As of today, it’s been a week since my surgery, and I feel pretty good, all things considered. I’m not in a lot of pain, and have been able to spend some time with friends and family. I am really looking forward to the weekend too – Some of my close friends from college are coming to visit from various parts of the US, so it will be fun to BS with them like we usually do.

I promise not to blog about hating Justin Beiber – That was more for me than for you folks…I gotta keep myself honest.

Onward and Upward,

Eddie

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4 Comments
  1. Tom gratzek permalink

    Eddie: I’m Kathleen’s son. We’ve met a couple of times. When you go to Europe consider Stockholm. Beautiful City. Good luck.

  2. Je Min permalink

    Hello Eddie,

    This is your uncle Jehong in Korea (your mother’s big brother and Richard Min’s father). First of all, your Aunt MiBong and I are really glad that your brain tumor has been removed successfully. We did not know that you had such the serious surgery until yesterday, 4/22 when I saw your father’s email upon returning a 8 day overseas trip. We wish and believe that your after-brain surgery treatment and your next surgery to remove your rectal tumor be all successful.

    I was very impressed with ways in which you were describing in your blog how all the things were and went before, during and after the brain surgery and also with your account of next surgery to remove a tumor in your rectum. Well, you are a very good writer. By the way, I can see from your writing that you are a person of a very positive and strong spirit and a very cheerful, likable and good person, confirming again what I heard about you from others around you.

    With all the advanced medical technologies and expert Doctors taking care of you and particularly with your positive and strong spirit, I firmly believe that you will win your battle for the illness. When it is hard, just focus only on the good results and good, happy days ahead. Always remember that you have many friends and relatives including us here in Korea and also good many others around you are rooting for you wishing you for the best.

    Our thoughts and prayers for your good treatment and successful next surgery.

    Uncle Jehong and Aunt MiBong from Korea
    April 23, 2013

  3. Hey cuz… You F’n rock. Seriously.

    When I read your post i was thinking… well … all the things one thinks of when they hear family (no matter how far or long apart) going through that. and then I was thinking I have no idea how to respond or if its even appropriate to do so. “Hang in there” or “love and support always from your fam in korea!” (as true as all is) just sounds lame. But then i thought NOT saying what i wanted to for risk of impropriety or poor fampolitiking is also insultingly selfish and fkn even lamer.

    So without further ado… What I was left wanting (or knowing what) to say was:

    Really. truly. …

    When going through frustrating impossible choices, pause a moment to reflect that .. butt vs brain fight be damned! Take pride and guidance in knowing that, we all know that, tests have proven again and again that you … actually have GIANT BALLS OF STEEL. Thats why your rectal cancer will never move up– No way it can get past those massive fighting spirit “Thou shall not pass!” Ganalf cast-iron gonads of yours. Maybe that 1P/19chromosome is an unfortunate byproduct of your superhuman surplus of manliness in your pants. The brain tumors are probably also a factor of what always happens when guys have that much more iron circulating downstairs than above. A real predicament for sure.

    Seriously though (even if not in conveyed, I do mean… Seriously)… that is my horribly inappropriate attempt to say Deepest respect and support from across the globe, Eddie. Your incredible attitude and view –even in the ups and downs of your fight– is one that has always served and represents you well. Giant balls of inspiratonal steel I tell ya. You shall overcome the challenge again.

    That said, so now I do want to propose something; after giving all your tumors the suplex smackdown submission-hold piledriver FTW and you hit that 3 week vacation…

    What say you about swinging by Seoul after Europe instead?!

    Put your Bieber-hata motor on guilt-free full-gear and come BS with me Gangnam Style (yes, it’s like actually ). Then when you go back you can lord stories over of all your college buds who think Vegas is the best place to go for “the hell of it.” 😉

    In the least, i’ll make sure you have an equally awesome time stressing over other (solvable) issues and problems like: Temple stay or night market? Proper, original samkyupsal bbq or Kimchi french fries (yes, you read that right… And they rule!!)? Garosugil (trendiest street in Seoul) coffee shop or Insadong culture tour? Etc etc. etc. Seoul (with fam) is the best place on earth to stress the right way. Heh

    How that for a plan? Deal? Deal.

    Just let me know when you finally get past the metal detector in Oslo to head out for Seoul…
    I’ll put my “old cuz” hat on, and be waiting to destroy your Vegas illusions in the meantime. 😉

    Until then … Onwards and through….

    -cuzin R in the RoK

  4. Stephanie Arado permalink

    Hey Eddie! I am still chuckling over RDM’s post…damn, that sounds fun! If you need an old lady and her two “fun-filled” sons to help with luggage…(you know I have got a little extra time on my hands) Seriously, know that we are out here and sending our love to you and your family!
    Stephanie “LOMOMo” Arado

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