Early-2015, I began to experience episodic dizziness and left-sided numbness and weakness. These episodes were accompanied by a sensation originating at the base of my skull, crawling around my head, laterally, and walking down my left leg, causing slight to moderate, temporary paralysis along the way. Episodes lasted three to eight minutes in duration and increased in frequency from once or twice monthly to weekly by the end of 2015. By May, 2016 I was experiencing up to three episodes daily.
Over this 18-month period I shared symptoms with my GP. When hearing hooves, doctors are trained to infer horses, not zebras. A healthy 30-something presenting with episodic dizziness is a horse: we suspected stress, maybe a pinched nerve, even positional vertigo.
The zebra trotted in May 13, 2016.
I returned to my GP with worsening symptoms, more frequent episodes, increased left arm involvement, and she administered a standard neurological exam. My left visual field was gone on the peripheral, both eyes.
Call back same day to return to my doc’s office. 71mm primary brain tumor, medial right parietal lobe, with possible invasion in my sensory and motor cortex. Contrast enhancement typical of malignant tumors.
May 26, 2016, awake craniotomy to resect as much tumor as possible (debulking), while protecting sensory and motor eloquent functions. Surgeons removed over 90% of the tumor while I watched the monitor as pieces of tumor were resected away from healthy brain. Amazing experience.
The pathology arrived on June 10, 2016: glioblastoma. An aggressive and deadly cancer with a median patient survival of roughly 16 months, and an abysmal five-year survival rate of 5-8%.
It is my hope that this blog is here for my wife that she knows my deep love and respect for her, for my kids to learn about the values system and priorities that I advanced, for other cancer patients that we may be strengthened by sharing our experiences, and for friends and family of cancer patients to find inspiration. I also draw solidarity with the clinical community that we are all negotiating the same healthcare system that exploits physicians and patients for profit.
This is where the “About” ends and the blog begins.
PS. The episodes turned out to be undiagnosed seizures.
Click to read Adam’s CV to learn more about Adam’s academic accomplishments and public speaking.