Featured MassKicker

Alexander Moore

You've gotta have hope. There's no shot without it. Everyone is their own person though so they have to travel their own path to that conclusion.

Alex Moore is another creative mAss Kicker.  He is a filmmaker in Studio City, CA. He graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Drama and Comparative Literature then got his degree in film production from Vancouver Film School in Vancouver, B.C. He began producing action sports videos and commercials. Currently, he is working on a few individual projects which should be available soon. He currently sits on the board for the Dragon Master Foundation.  We were fortunate to officially meet him in person at an event in Los Angeles this past weekend!

mK:  Thanks for doing this Alex.  First question… What/ when was your diagnosis?  How did you find out about your initial diagnosis?
AM: I was diagnosed with Brain Cancer (Mixed OligoAstrocytoma) in Summer 2011. I had a grand mal seizure out of the blue and woke up in the ER. Thankfully the ER doctor had a suspicion of what was happening so they did a CT scan and discovered a mass the size of a ping pong ball on my right frontal lobe. I was in the hospital for a few days and after some tests they determined it was most likely a tumor. I’m very grateful that my wife Amy was home when I had the seizure. Even though I know it was traumatizing for her to witness it, she handled everything like a champ.

mK:  What were your symptoms?
AM: My initial symptoms were super weird so bear with me here.  A couple months before the grand mal, I was working on a pretty intense film project while balancing a bunch of other stuff and I wasn’t getting much rest. One day I was sitting at my computer and I suddenly found myself experiencing deja vu over and over again, I quickly laid down and it eventually went away. There was a bit of an aura feeling too but I just attributed it all to being exhausted and sitting in front of my computer for too long. Then a couple weeks later I was driving and went into what I call “Terminator Mode”. I call it that because remember how in The Terminator movies you see from Schwarzenegger’s point of view and he’s looking around and computing each and every thing individually? While I was driving, I was experiencing that same thing. I was aware of every little thing that my brain was processing and it really freaked me out. I pulled off the road and closed my eyes for a bit and it went away. I again attributed it to being exhausted. It didn’t really concern me too much because of the fact that it went away so quickly. I had the grand mal a few weeks after that. We now know that those weird incidents were “temporal lobe” seizures. The diagnosis took me for a total loop because I never had any headaches or tingling or any of the other normal symptoms that you associate with brain tumors prior to the grand mal. When I woke up in the Emergency Room, I said to myself, “this isn’t good.”

mK: Yikes!  Shocking! Who are your heroes?
AM: My heroes are kinda random. I have a lot of interests so they come from all sorts of disciplines. I think what most of my heroes have in common is that they are/were all great thinkers and visionaries. I’ll give you one of them…My faith is very important to me and my favorite biblical figure (aside from Jesus obviously) is King Solomon. God told Solomon that he would give him whatever his heart desired and Solomon asked for wisdom. Solomon saw knowledge and how you apply that knowledge as the most valuable asset in life. I agree with that sentiment so I try to approach every situation focusing on the knowledge or wisdom that I can gain through the experience. Now having said that, I’m not always great at it… but that’s what heroes are, right? Aspirational figures.

mK: Cool.  What motivates you?
AM: I think what motivates me the most is the pursuit of opportunities where I get to cultivate meaningful relationships and be creative. I have this belief that we were all created to create and what you create is different for everyone. For me personally, it’s creating stories and that permeates everything I do…that’s why I’m a filmmaker. That’s why I blogged about my journey with Brain Cancer. I also like to get to know the stories of everyone I meet and come in contact with if I can. I find that it makes life much more interesting and dynamic. Being able to experience the dynamism of life is what gets me up in the morning.

mK: Way to continue pursue your creative outlets!   So, when was the first time you felt like yourself after your diagnosis?
AM: I’m sure you get a similar answer to this question from most people in that I was so transformed by the experience that it’s hard for me to even remember what I used to be/feel like. Physically though, it took me close to two years to get back to being as active as I was. One of the important things I gained from being sick (other than a healthier perspective on life) is that I learned to listen to my body. I used to be so high on coffee and whatever sugar-filled food or beverage I could get my hands on that I ignored all the signals my body were telling me regarding my overall energy and health. As a result, I lived a pattern where I would crash and burn…a lot. Learning to listen to my body has actually given me a lot more sustainable energy than I ever used to have.

mK: What makes you laugh, cry, angry?
AM: I try not to take life too seriously so lots of things make me laugh. When I think something is really funny though, I bray (like a donkey). Braying is the “Revenge of the Nerds” laugh.  A good farce (Simpsons, Adult Swim, Curb Your Enthusiasm), slapstick movie, or FAIL video can usually get me to Bray. As far as crying is concerned, I’ve always been a bit of an easy target for things that pull at the heart strings but it takes a lot less now to turn on the tear spigot. I actually caught myself crying during an episode of the show “Chopped” on the Food Network recently. I will say though that I find crying to be very cathartic so I will sometimes purposely seek out things that I know will get me to do so. As far as anger is concerned, it takes a lot to make me angry but I certainly feel a righteous anger when I see people being mistreated or taken advantage of. After my surgery though, when I was taking those steroids for the brain swelling, I was not fun to be around. I was acting like a bull with its nuts tied, looking for a red cape to tear to pieces. In others words, I was hyped up and short fused. Amy actually called my neurosurgeon because she thought the surgery had altered my personality. She breathed a sigh of relief when my doctor told her it was probably because of the steroids. She then kicked me out of the house until I was off of them…JK.

mK:  What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve done?
AM: I guess making films is pretty interesting but I once stood behind Jodi Foster in line at a grocery store and they asked for her club card, she didn’t have it so I let her use mine. When the cashier handed her the receipt he said, “Thank you Mrs. Moore”. So I guess you could say I was married to Jodi Foster for a brief moment.

mK:  HAHAHA!  What was the toughest challenge you faced as a survivor?  How did you overcome it?
AM: I felt a lot of guilt early on. I felt like it was somehow my fault and that I was being a burden on everyone. I think that’s a common thing for a lot of people to feel when they’re first diagnosed. It seems to be the first lesson in Cancer 101. The first step in dealing with it was recognizing that there was absolutely nothing I did to cause it.  From there I tried to always keep the lines of communication open and transparent with myself and my caregiver(s) (my Mom stayed with Amy and I for the first year to help out). The guilt does still sneak up on me every once in awhile, but I wouldn’t say its a challenge to get through anymore.

mK: Communication is so important!  What is your guilty pleasure?
AM: Binge watching. Before the final season of Breaking Bad, I binge-watched the first 4 seasons in a week. During that week I’d go for walks around town and think that every store I passed was being used to launder drug money.

mK:  OK, here’s a question to make you think… If you could give yourself your own nickname, what would it be? Why?
AM: I’ve never been asked this question before, so congratulations on being the first…umm…well, I watched a lot of wrestling when I was a kid and I made up a name for myself if I was to ever go pro. It was “Showcase”. My special move was the “Showcase Showdown” (ala Price is Right) and it’s where I would pick up an opponent over my head and twirl them around like a spinning wheel and then body slam them. I never did get my chance to go pro, but now since I’ve wrestled Brain Cancer, maybe I can get away with calling myself that.

mK: What do you like to do in your spare time?
AM: I’m a homebody so my favorite thing to do is hang out at home and cuddle with Amy. But when I’m feeling up to getting out of the house I love to see movies, go to concerts, do outdoorsy stuff, have game nights and meals with friends, go to Clippers games, play ultimate frisbee… Right now I’m actually playing fantasy football and it’s totally addicting…I may or may not be playing in three different leagues. Side note: Fellow mAss Kicker Raechal Shewfelt in one of the leagues.

mK: What are you up to now?
AM: I’m serving on the board for this new non-profit Dragon Master Foundation. The goal with the foundation is to develop and implement tools to empower brain cancer researchers to collaborate more effectively. I love the vision and I love the people involved. I’m really excited about it. I’m also working on a script inspired by my Brain Cancer journey. I guess you could call It a “dramedy”. I’m making sure it’s really up to par before I move forward with it though. I want it to be something the Brain Cancer community can be proud to get behind and could make a real impact.

mK: Looking forward to it!  Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
AM: It may sound cliché, but it’s really one word…Hope. You’ve gotta have hope. There’s no shot without it. Everyone is their own person though so they have to travel their own path to that conclusion. For me hope came from my faith in God, the remarkable support of family and friends, and meeting other survivors and their caregivers. All of these things reminded me that I wasn’t alone. Even though you choose hope it doesn’t mean you won’t feel despair at times. To me, experiencing despair every now and again is actually a sign that I’m not in denial about the whole thing. Hope only has meaning if you know despair.

mK: Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know… anything.
AM: I can’t believe I’m confessing this on the internet… When I was in high school, I got in trouble with the police for getting caught stealing a traffic cone. I don’t even remember why I did it. I think I caved into peer pressure actually. The officer took my id and called my mom. Looking back at it, I think he got a kick out of scaring the crap out of me. I think he knew that there’s nothing better to straighten a kid out than a mother’s guilt.

mK: Any parting words for all the mAss Kickers?
AM: Whether you’re aware of it or not…you are and will always be an inspiration to anyone who gets to know you and/or hears your story, so seize it, embrace it, and keep kicking mAss!!!

 

Alexander Moore:  traffic cone outlaw, writer, fantasy football addict, pro-wrestling/Price is Right maniac, Jodi Foster’s temporary grocery store husband, nerd laugher, King Soloman Fan, brain tumor advocate, and cool dude!  Thanks for hanging with us Alex!  Check out Dragon Master Foundation when you get the chance!

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