Survivors and Thrivers - Tom McLain
Today is #BrainTumorThursday on Twitter - checkout what this means HERE.
It's also the very first day of our weekly Survivors and Thrivers articles.
What is Survivors and Thrivers?
Through our ongoing commitment to raising awareness via Twitter each Thursday with the hastag #braintumorthursday, we have had the honour of meeting a lady called, Megan. Megan's Mum has a Brain Tumour and so Megan knows just how important raising awareness is, but, she also knows how sharing survivor stories can inspire others walking the brain tumour road.
We have decided to partner with Megan and her blog http://memomuse.wordpress.com/ and each Thursday we will be sharing a story from a brain tumour survivor.
Survivor and Thriver Week 1:
Today, it is our pleasure to introduce you to Tom McLain — husband, father, friend, family man, and overall awesome person — who also happens to be fighting (and doing a great job might I add) brain tumors. These are his words, in his voice.
“What then do you do with the statistics? I choose to think of them as merely a guide. With my brain Tumor, I choose to believe that my chances of survival are phenomenal.” ~ Tom McLain
How can you have a brain tumor and not hope for a cure? Hope does not completely drive me, because it does have to be tempered with reality — the statistics are often grim. But even in the face of grim statistics, one can always hope and pray about being an outlier, being the one patient who brings the average up by living far longer that the average or even the top number in a range of years. The companion to hope is faith in God. As I have said before, “As weapons against Cancer, faith is the bow and hope is the arrow.”
It is my sincere wish that no one else ever has to face a diagnosis of a brain tumor. One of the wisest things said to me at the beginning of my journey was the observation that the central question was not, “Why me?” but “Why not me?” That shifts the focus from internal to external and allows you to make wishes for others. My hopes and dreams tend to be about me and my family and my wishes tend to be broader in scope.
With the diagnosis of a fatal disease and no clear answer as to how long I will survive, I dream about the events in life that I may miss. I have three daughters, so I dream about walking them all down the aisle to be married. I dream about grandchildren, being convinced that I will be an awesome grandfather. I dream about being financially secure enough to retire while I still have enough health to fully enjoy life with my wife and family.
"Never underestimate the power of God to use your flimsy self to his glory." - J.E.Oppenheim
I am (be)…
While it may seem entirely strange to most, I am in many ways thankful for my brain tumor. Before the tumor came along, I thought James 1:2-4 was a completely insane passage in the Bible:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV)
"The most difficult time in any cancer battle is the time between diagnosis and deciding on a plan of attack." - Tom McLain
How on earth could you ever look up on life’s problems as a joyful experience? But then I began to realize that I would have a phenomenal opportunity to watch God work, both in my life, and in the lives of others around me. As explained by American author and brain tumor patient, J.E. Oppenheim, “Never underestimate the power of God to use your flimsy self to his glory.” So far, the tangible benefits of my cancer have been that I have been taught faith, hope, courage, resilience, and purpose.
"So far, the tangible benefits of my cancer have been that I have been taught faith, hope, courage, resilience, and purpose." - Tom McLain
It would be unfair of me to suggest that I have fully adjusted to my “new normal.” The swirling effects of the tumor — chemo, maintenance drugs, being a male over 50, and possible radiation damage — do provide for some unevenness in my daily approach to life. If fact, you could easily encounter me on a given day and conclude — “This cannot be the same guy.”
Diagnosis and treatment…
As for the tumor itself, a mass was detected in an MRI at the end of May 2009. During the first week or so of June 2009, I had a brain biopsy and it was determined that my tumor was an anaplastic oligodendroglioma. Not only was that good news because they are slow-growing tumors, but I also had what is known as a 1P, 19Q chromosome in the tumor cells which made them more susceptible to a particular chemo drug called Temodar. On June 22, I turned 50, so you could say the tumor was my birthday present! After getting a couple of consultations, it became clear that surgery was not an option, so we began Temodar in July 2009. Eighteen rounds later, I finished Temodar in February 2011. No too long after that, I started targeted brain radiation and completed that in July 2011. The net result is: that as of today, my tumor is smaller and stable!
"The net result is: that as of today, my tumor is smaller and stable!" - Tom McLain
In terms of a favorite quote, there are many that come to mind. There is actually a website that has been kind enough to add a few of my quotes to those of others in the brain tumor community and other cancer sufferers. I go there frequently for inspiration.
If you are a brain tumor patient or survivor and would like to share your story, please CLICK HERE to complete our questionnaire.
If you wish to get in touch with Tom, CLICK HERE and we will pass your message on asap.
Thank you for tuning in today and supporting #braintumorthursday. We look forward to seeing you here at www.btbuddies.org.uk/surviving and www.memomuse.wordpress.com every Thursday for #Brain Tumor Thursday and on Twitter every Thursday. Thank you for your time.
Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.