Before my surgery in 2005, I was just starting to get into a new hobby, surfing, in a new city with new friends. I’d wake up early to go surfing before work, and found myself so relaxed the whole day. A few months after I established my routine, I was diagnosed with a golf-ball sized brain tumor between the brain stem and cerebellum. The new hobby that I was just learning to love was suddenly taken away! Within a month I had:
Since then, my life has taken a completely new direction from the plan I had since graduating from Physical Therapy school eight years ago. I’m very grateful for the new direction my life is taking me, but I sometimes wonder how things might have turned out if didn’t need to take this new direction. I have surprised many people (myself included) with some of the things I have been able to accomplish. Publishing articles/books, going on national book tours, public speaking at universities/colleges/hospitals, and starting a nonprofit organization were never in my wildest imagination. The brain tumor hit me pretty hard, but it didn’t knock me out! (It’s my turn to counter punch through MKF!) I hate to admit it, but the brain tumor was the spark that ignited a new fire in me. I’ve also learned to appreciate all the little things in life!
I still miss the old activities I use to do. The tumor took away so much. Surfing is one of the few things that connects me to the “old” me. I have met so many amazing people on this journey, but the people who inspire me the most are the survivors I have met on all my travels! Every person I’ve met that has attended a First Descent camp (campers, staff, and volunteers) has a unique energy about them. It’s an attitude that is hard to describe, but easy to recognize. I have met so many amazing survivors in these camps! I have heard so many incredible stories of triumph that it is humbling being there to witness a fellow survivor’s own personal triumphs. To see it on their faces is an incredible feeling. I unfortunately could not paddle out to the lineup myself, but the experience of being out there has given me something to shoot for. Just knowing the journeys my fellow campers had to endure and watching them catch their first waves was so inspiring to me. Watching someone do something they didn’t think they could do is incredible. Seeing the smiles on their faces coming out of the water with a look of confidence reminded me of my own experiences catching my first wave. The feeling of riding a wave is nothing short of incredible. The speed, the freedom, the fact that you are being propelled by pure energy that no human created is pretty cool when you think about it. It made me smirk seeing the “awe yeah, I did that” look on everyone’s face as they confidently walked back to our spot on the beach. I’m still improving physically, but it’s taking much longer than I expected. I look forward to the day that to will be able to paddle out to the lineup and catch my first wave on my own. Give me some time to figure out how to do it… I can’t wait to join my new friends on a wave. ;P