A Declaration (Classification) of (Modified) Independence

Tonight I was crushed at freeze tag by a pre-teen, two children, and a peer. I mean crushed. My five and half year old was unfreezing me as needed, and when I was “it,” my three year old was my only active target. I had the head drop to juke left, but no spring off my left foot to jolt back right. I tried to spin away from an incoming freeze tag, and I aimlessly hopped on my strong right foot, down our slightly declining back yard.

I declared victory, anyway.

Not because my house, my rules.

No. Instead–well, if you have heard me speak in the past several months, refining and sharpening my illness narrative, you know the climax of my awake craniotomy and surgical resection to debulk a 71mm primary brain tumor included the adjudication of a life-altering decision to either press on with aggressive surgery at the risk of left-sided paralysis, or remain conservative, protecting sensory motor function with impairment, leaving remaining tumor in the margins of my surgical cavity.  I decided to pursue a more conservative resection, on grounds of my young family–three boys under five years old, and our (necessarily) active lifestyle. This decision was made while on the operating table, skull opened, my inner emotional and physical life exposed, if there is a distinction to be made.

Tonight I tossed my cane aside. I ran (I mean, sort of ran. Ran-ish) with my boys, their cousins, my brother in law. My awkward gait pounded my feet into the hard summer soil of an Indiana summer through the flat soles of the Sambas I used to wear for ollies and standing for hours at local concerts (“shows”).

My neurosurgeon told me to make my decision based on my quality of life today, not what I imagine could be the case in the future. My decision ultimately was to maintain what function I had left after a huge tumor smashed my right ventricle, motor sensory cortex, and post-central gyrus. I took this bet to leave cancer in my head and rolled the dice for research oncology to save my life while I hobbled after my boys outside during the slowest-paced game of freeze tag that’s ever been played.

Anyway, it’s July 4th, and that is my declaration of independence. My quality of life is better for it–shorter maybe, but for tonight, anyway, better.

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