As told to Britt Julious
It’s a pretty surreal experience. I never had serious medical problems to speak of before.
Later, I’d been showing some cognitive and physical symptoms, like a lack of mobility and strength on my left-hand side, and some forgetfulness. My brother and sister-in-law took me to the Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Maryland.
I had an ER doc come in and give me a truth bomb: stage IV malignant glioblastoma. The seventh of December—and this is a bad joke—is my day of infamy. Everything got turned upside down once I got the diagnosis. Four days later, I was under the knife. They were able to get rid of most of my three tumors, but [they] were malignant. There’s still some [left], so that’s what we’re [working on] now.
Physically, I’m doing well. I’m the kind of person who’s pretty even-keeled, so while I’m not overly naive, you also won’t find me on the bathroom floor writhing with psychological problems. Things have been going well, all things considered.
I have an amazing support system. I’ve really learned firsthand what it means to have great caregivers. My mother retired a little bit early. As soon as I was diagnosed, she called up her boss and said, “You know what? I think this is the universe telling me that it’s time to retire.” She and my father, who’s also retiring soon, have been absolutely amazing. My local and extended family have been tremendous, as well as various friends and acquaintances. [This has] made me realize just how valuable caregivers are in the whole cancer experience.
People look at me and say, “Michael! Wow! You look great.” Which is true, and I have no reason to doubt what they’re saying. Some of the things that will become challenging questions to answer, I don’t even think I know what they are yet, in part because of where I am in the process. I’m more than a year in, but there are a ton of unknowns.
I try to take things one day, one week, one month at a time. I have so many things to be thankful for, except for the worst part, which is G.D. stage IV glioblastoma. I try to maintain that positive outlook, and that involves being hopeful. I feel like I’m just getting started with all of this.