Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I tell ya, this has been the...

longest period of time that I have actually written in a journal/blog/diary or whatever you would like to call it on a regular basis. It isn't always daily, but I've been somewhat consistent. I tend to be lazy at times, and I'll say I'll do this or that, and I procrastinate doing what it was I was going to do. So, maintaining this writing thing is important to me. A lot of it doesn't make sense, but that really doesn't matter because it is sort of a analogy for my life, a lot of it doesn't make sense. I bet when you read the title you thought I was going to say something about the Inauguration Day events, or Obama or how this was the greatest day of my life or nation or God only knows what. Nope, didn't want to mess with that, at least not yet. I kind of go where ever my brain takes me, even if it's a train-wreck.

Today was an important day for it was the first day of President Obama's term as President of the United States of America. I watched throughout the day, as I had CNN and MSNBC on, switching between to 2, until I got tired of Keith Olbermann harping on Ted Kennedy and him being taken away during the luncheon. And, like many misinformed in the media, he kept talking about Kennedy's brain cancer. No, I didn't misstate what he said, it was brain cancer. Now, Kennedy had a brain tumor, a glioma, just like I have, just different location and grade, but otherwise it is similar. It is a primary BRAIN TUMOR Keith!!!

Now, for the last 5 1/2 years I have read everything I could get my hands on about brain tumors, looked at scores of images, learned the parts of the brain and what they do, particularly where my tumor is located in the left middle cerebellar peduncle, with extension into the ipsilateral cerebral hemisphere, pons and into the medulla. Also shows expansion of the middle cerebellar peduncle. Extension into the pons fails to show any evidence of crossing the midline. There is an element of involvement of the superior cerebellar peduncle as well, and that is on the left as well. This information was from one of my MRIs, repeated often in every MRI I have gotten in the past 5+years. It is a Low Grade Glioma, which means it is slow growing, and according to Dr. Kerry Brega, my neurosurgeon, it is very slow growing. sort of like I'm an anomaly. The down sides are 2 important things, that being its' location, and the probability that it could decide to start growing any time it wishes. The symptoms are also significant, but not life threatening. We made the decision 5 years ago to constantly monitor it, because attempting to remove it could cause serious problem, effecting my quality of life, or even death. So we went with the monitoring option for the time being. It's sort of like a ticking timebomb in my brain, and who knows what could trigger it to decide it should get busy? I don't and neither do the doctors. But it is in an area that controls basic life functions including blood pressure, heart beat, and breathing. I'm rambling again, oops!

Now back to Mr. Keith Olbermann. and him continuing to call Ted's Brain Tumor brain cancer.

From the ABTA -
-A malignant brain tumor is life-threatening, invasive, and tend to grow at a more rapid pace than a benign tumor. Malignant brain tumors are sometimes called brain cancer even though they do not meet the true definition of "CANCER" (Since primary brain tumors rarely spread outside the brain and spinal cord, they do not exactly fit the general definition of "cancer" -- a tumor that has the ability to spread to other organs of the body. Since primary brain tumors tend to stay in the brain, they do not meet the true definition of cancer.) Thus, within the brain tumor community, you’ll hear the words "benign" or "malignant" or "lesion" or "tumor" but never, or hardly ever hear "cancer", "brain cancer", or "cancerous!" NEVER, unless it is about a metastatic brain tumor.
A brain tumor is a mass of unnecessary, and abnormal, cells growing in the brain. When doctors describe brain tumors, they often use the words "benign" or "malignant." But what do those words really mean? The words “benign” or “malignant” generally refer to how unusual the tumor cells look under a microscope when compared to normal brain cells. Tumors with cells that look similar to normal cells, yet aren’t quite normal, are called “benign” tumors. Tumor cells that are very different in appearance are called “malignant.” And between the “not quite normal” and the “very unusual” are the tumors referred to as low grade or mid-grade.
But it is not always easy to classify a brain tumor as "benign" or "malignant" as many factors other than pathological appearance play a role in their outcome.
A "benign" brain tumor consists of very slow growing cells, usually has distinct borders, and rarely spreads. When viewed microscopically, the cells have an almost normal appearance. Surgery alone might be an effective treatment for this type of tumor. A brain tumor composed of benign cells, but located in a vital area, can be considered to be life-threatening - although the tumor and its cells would not be classified as "malignant."
Benign brain tumors may be considered malignant if they are located in a part of the brain that controls vital life functions, such as heartbeat or breathing.
Some types of malignant brain tumors can spread to other locations in the brain and spine, but they rarely spread to other parts of the body. They lack distinct borders due to their tendency to send "roots" into nearby normal tissue. They can also shed cells that travel to distant parts of the brain and spine by way of the cerebrospinal fluid. Some malignant tumors, however, do remain localized to a region of the brain or spinal cord.
One other type of brain tumor is always considered malignant. Cancer cells that begin growing elsewhere in the body and then travel to the brain form “metastatic” brain tumors. For example, cancers of the lung, breast, colon and skin (melanoma) sometimes spread to the brain. All metastatic brain tumors are malignant since they began as cancer elsewhere in the body. -

- Courtesy of the American Brain Tumor Association - Benign vs. Malignant -

OK, I went off topic, like I had one to begin with. The Inauguration Day stuff was nice, and I kind of welled up with emotional on a couple of occasions, which I do a lot, especially if I'm watching something that is emotional. Makes sense to me. Ever see "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants"? It makes me happy to see that a majority of our country's voters got past their prejudice or bias toward black folks, or brown folks, or mixed race folks. Oh they still may be prejudice and bias a little, but were able to vote for Barack Obama. That is great, as we are heading in the right direction. Yay America!!! Yay!!! Check out Project Implicit out of Harvard, as it is quite interesting. I know I nitpicked today, but this has been going on since Ted was diagnosed with his Brain Tumor last May 2008. I wish Sen. Ted Kennedy, President Obama, and Sen. Byrd the best, and hope the two sick Senators get well soon. And Barack, it is time to kick some ass and take some names! Now, and don't forget to prosecute the War Criminals, because I don't want Cheney coming back to Wyoming, ever!

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