Newly diagnosed brain cancer

Hello everyone. I thought I'd introduce myself and say hi. I'm Brian Anderson and just got diagnosed with oligodendroglioma. I had a siezure the night of monday the 6th of June, first one ever. Ambulance took me to the hospital where they found "a mass" and transferred me to another hospital which diagnosed the brain cancer. I guess they had originally thought that I had a drug overdose or something. Quite the contrary, I have been active duty military for 13 years, most of which has been spent internationally chasing down drug runners. Several years intercepting cocaine shipments from South America, and several years intercepting marijuana shipments from Central America. My caeer total is close to $3.5 Billion worth of contraband siezed. Not a bad career. I was good at what I did. About a year ago, I arrived in Nashville to take my first "land job" in over ten years. I was nervous about leaving sea-duty, but to be honest, I have really enjoyed the opportunity to come home to my own house and sleep in my own bed every night with my girlfriend, (actually, I proposed after the diagnosis....so fiancee).
Anyway, so it looks like my military career is over, although it may take up to a year for them to officially retire me. I have to admit that I guess besides having brain cancer, getting it while in the military may be a blessing. I would get retired as if I had completeted my 30 years of service, which means income and health insurance for life, without the work. The only trade off is the shortened lifespan, but oligodendrogliomas these days are getting some very good life expectancies. Not so good that they would let me keep carrying a gun and driving boats, I cant even drive a car anymore because of the siezures.

Well I have a date with my fiancee, so I'll check in later and write more about my diagnoses. Just wanted to start this and say hi to everyone.

Comments

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  • Hi Brian, welcome :) Sorry to hear about the brain cancer but congratulations on the engagement! Best of luck with your treatment- and I must say "oligodendroglioma" is quite a name for something...
  • summooresummoore Community Member
    Congratulations on the engagement and the health insurance!! I'd also like to thank you for doing your job so well. Sorry you can't work anymore, but it seems you made the most of it before you left for your "land job".
  • I'm sorry for the cancer, but congrats on the engagement. Also, thank you for your service.
  • elrainelrain Community Member
    Hello Brian! Congrats on the engagement! So sorry about your diagnosis. I am 26 and was diagnosed with Medullablastoma (brain cancer) in October of last year. It is quite a journey to say the least. What is the plan? Surgery? Radiation/Chemo?
  • the way that the tumor runs through the brain is like plant roots, so they have to do full brain radiation. From what I understand, there is a lot riding on whether or not there is a 1P/19Q chromosomal deletion in the genetic makeup of the tumor. Understanding the genetic makeup supposedly helps guide the oncologist in the exact treatment of the tumor. Full brain radiation vs. localized gamma knife radiation vs. intraveneous chemotherapy, vs. oral chemotherapy vs. any of the 1,000's of combinations that they can mix and match different levels and quantities of each type of treatment. I guess they are making really good progress in figuring out the best way to attack the tumors based on the genetic makeup. I have a friend that I went to high school with that is a pathologist in Houston and and been giving me the layman's version of some of the hottest research. I like that they they have enough "research" to be able to say, "We can keep a guy alive for three years if we give full brain radiation for 20 minutes a day for 6 to 8 weeks, but if we do 80% full brain radiation, 15% oral chemo, and 5% I.V. chemo, we can keep them alive for 25 years." The recent progress made in determining the best treatments is really promising.
    For my diagnosis, they want to start with the full brain radiation for 20 minutes per day, 5 days per week, for 6 to 8 weeks. We'll see how the tumor responds, and then adjust from there as necessary. I start on tuesday, I think. I know I have to go in and make a mask that they use for the treatment to keep my head still, but I dont know if they are actually going to start the radiation on tuesday. I assume that they will. They say that I will get tired, as if I have been out in the sun all day. Facial and head hair will fall out. I have been in the military for so long that I am used to not having hair. I usually have a buzz cut or high and tight, and shave my face and beard every day, but havent ever been completely bald. I guess I am expecting to loose eyebrows and eyelashes too, so that will be fun. They say that some pain and nausea or vomiting may occur. My military training has made me very good at ignoring pain. I feel it, but I just simply dont allow it to bother me. Nausea and vomiting on the other hand, I cant stand. I hope that isnt too bad. I'll keep updating on the status of treatments and any research I can get my hands on. I want to start a blog to document all my experiences with my particular type of tumor and treatments to help raise awareness of all the different types things I am finding out about all the different cancers, and tumors, and treatments, and therapies. There is really so much stuff out there that is so scattered around, that I want to put all of my knowledge into one spot. Can anyone reccomend a good blogging website?
  • I don't know if this is exactly what you're looking for but I just use the CaringBridge site (my page), I just use it to try and keep family and friends up to date without having to talk to everyone individually... sounds like you might want to do more. Hope you have as little nausea and vomiting in your treatment as possible :)
  • I had the max 35 rad treatments over 7 weeks from just above my thyroid to the base of my brain, pretty much my entire mouth on back. I had zero nausea. The only issue I had with my stomach was due to the mucosis when it would build up and stack down to my stomach.

    I hope treatment goes well and you avoid the nausea.
  • Hello~ First off giant (HUGS) to you and your fiance' and family...we were in your exact shoes 10 months ago...My husband same deal, brain cancer, he had surgery right away though and went through multiple seizures and then radiation to help with those. The meds wouldn't work for him, after many long days, weeks, and months, he has healed up and is doing better than he has since the first seizure. Support is what got us through this surround yourself with people who love and want to help you through this! Stress free as much as possible LOL right ? I know! Ask ?s when you need to!!! Ben cannot drive either hasnn't for ten months now. He had to stop working right away also. And is now on disability. You sound positive and that's how he gets through it...he doesn't focus on what he's lost...not to say we all don't have bad days cuz we have them, but we don't let it bring us down, we get it out and move on anyway we can!!! This is a great way btw! :) Lots of support online and otherwise too. Anyways...wish you good days! And take care!!!
  • candacecandace Community Member
    Hello Brian, Congrat's to you and your fiancee. I am sorry to hear this. My husband was diagnosed in 2006 with a Ganglioglioma. Which is rare. He had not even had a cold for ten years he did not see a doctor. Had a seizure there is know research on his type.So we just run on luck. He is apatient at osu in ohio. Wonderful doctor's. Pleas stay strong and keep faith. Thank you so much for serving
  • Thanks for the replies everyone. My blog is up and running at http://www.stupidbraincancer.blogspot.com

    I still have no word from the military as to what they plan to do to retire me, but if the decide to take that route, which I can only assume they will, they would assume that I would have served 30 years, and retire me at 75% of my pay for the rest of my life. To be honest, after 13 years, the only reason I do it anymore is that I am too invested toward that retirement check to throw it all away. If they want to retire me at 32 years old and pay me 75% for the rest of my life, I will gladly take it. On top of that, I just found out last night that I have been selected for appointment to the next paygrade. I'll be making E-7 (the highest enlisted ranking is E-9) before January. Not bad for 13 years of service and a lifetime monthly retirement check at 32 years old, plus free health care and disability. I guess if you gotta have a brain tumor, they say this is the one to have, and I'm in about the best situation I can hope to be in to have everything taken care of.

    Check out the blog everyone! I'm having a lot of fun sharing my experiences. Ya'll stay strong too, and keep those happy thoughts flowing!:p
  • Love all the pictures on your blog!
  • Nice. The photos of you in the mask made me cringe. Brought me back to a few months ago.

    Keep pushing :)
  • Just checked out the blog...I love that you can post all that! My husband works through it in different ways. I wish I had pictures like that, but he would have never left me. He had a very similar scene to look at on his ceiling at radiation. :) It always surprises me about how much or little different Drs tell a patient. We were told just enough, which was enough to last a lifetime. It's like the more you know the more you have to worry about. Thanks to the good ol internet for providing me with all this worry! :/ But I'm thankful for the support. I hope you are getting wonderful support through this stinkass journey! Good days!!

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