Friday, November 30, 2012

A Happy Ependymoma Story

Ependymoma stories don’t always end up with happy endings, but here is a story I read while back in Michigan for the Thanksgiving holiday.

According to Zlati Meyer, the Detroit Free Press staff writer, “The nightmare began after a week of nonstop vomiting misdiagnosed by their pediatrician.” Only after they took their young child to Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids did a doctor suspect something was wrong after feeling that the soft spot on Abby's head was puffy. It was the day Abby turned 10 months old.”

Meyer goes on to report that “A CAT scan revealed a brain tumor wrapped around her brain stem -- an ependymoma that physicians theorized formed in utero and is very rare in a child so young. The Greers were told to give their daughter a kiss, because she'd be put into a medically induced coma for several days before what would be a 12 1/2-hour surgery to remove the tumor.”

Yes, you read that right, twelve and a half hours. My surgery was, gee, about half that long and I thought that was forever.

Her dad, Brandon Greer remembered when, shortly thereafter in the intensive care unit, he knew things would be OK. "I kissed her toes ... and she giggled. It was her first reaction. She had a little smile on her face. I never cried so hard in my life. I knew my baby was coming back to me."

Now it that doesn’t hit you in your soft spot, you don’t have one.
For more about Abby’s fight, her treatments and a great video, try this link:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Yes, laughter is the best medicine

Yes, it’s confirmed (well, sort of). Laughter is a natural pain-killer.  According to a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society - - Social laughter is correlated with an elevated pain threshold. In fact that’s the name of the study.

How so? As reported by Cari Nierenberg of TheBodyOdd, “It seems that cracking up in the company of other people releases endorphins, the same feel-good brain chemicals triggered while exercising.”

In this case, I’m highly disappointed that I didn’t get chose to be a study participant.  Why? Nierenberg says that “In some studies, half of the volunteers watched a comedy video -- ranging from episodes of "South Park" and "Friends" to "Mr. Bean" and "The Simpsons" -- while the others viewed a documentary on dull stuff like golf instruction, pet training, or a nature show. “

Actually I think the clear next step is to combine the two and have participants watch funny cat videos. If so, you just can’t beat these:


PS – And just to be clear, I’m more of a Mr. Bean fan than a funny cat video fan.
PPS – Here’s a link to Ms. Nierenberg’s article

Image credit: <a href=''>rimdream / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Free Evanston NorthShore Presentation on Treating Brain Tumors

If you live in the Chicago area and want to know more about treating brain tumors, here’s a free presentation at NorthShore’s Evanston Hospital. The presentation is entitled “Understanding Cancer Seminar: Treating Brain Tumors - A Collaborative Approach to Care.” Here’s a link for more information and to register:
Please understand that I’m bias when I recommend the Evanston NorthShore Hospital -  including their surgeons, nurses, attendants, chefs and everybody else - as they did a great job on my tumor through a number of surgeries.

Monday, November 19, 2012 is inspirational

If you’ve just discovered that you have a brain tumor, or just discovered that somebody close to you has a brain tumor or are somebody recovering from a brain tumor, you should discover the American Brain Tumor Association’s Inspire website –


Well, for starters, you’ll read about other victims and caretakers who are going through the same crazy/stressful/frightening experiences that you are. The brain tumor community is wonderfully supportive. If you post a question, complaint or observation, or information request, expect to get a ton of responses.

I just looked at the recent postings and the topics/headlines include:
  • NF1 & seizures & disabilities
  • Disabled from resection, in wait & see, is there anyone out like me?
  • New Medicine, blessed relief
  • I just wanted to ask a question,are brain tumors hereditary?
  • Pineal Cyst/tumor Need someone who has one to talk to
If any of these topics strike a chord, register and log onto