May 2010

*Latest Health Report down the page*

Awhile back, I read a story in one of my favorite leadership/management-type books, Good to Great, in which Jim Collins tells the story of Admiral James Stockdale.  Most Americans know Adm. Stockdale as the absent-minded, kinda goofy running mate of 3rd party presidential candidate Ross Perot back in 1992; however, that’s just a minor footnote to the distinguished career of a true war hero, who was imprisoned and tortured in a North Vietnamese prison for eight years.  Under unspeakable living conditions, he never broke, and even maintained command of his fellow prisoners, fighting for their rights against a ruthless regime. 

His tale is one of facing the worst of life circumstances, and finding how to survive within one’s new context.  I’ve taken a lot of wisdom from the story over the years, and have tried to apply its brutal simple truth to my own life, no matter what the current struggles have been.  Perhaps you can, too… (more…)


**Health Update – Not much new to report right now; I’ve been feeling great the past few weeks (no seizures, missed time from work, or significant hamperings to life), which I’ll attribute both to a ton of meds and your prayers.  Still on for surgery on the 3rd. 

Many of you have asked how you can be of direct assistance to me during my recovery time.  The short answer is that I don’t know yet; we won’t know what my recovery time will be until acter the surgery itself.  The longer answer is that I’ve thrown together a Wiki (interactive) site (, up and running next week), on which people can find & select dates where they’re available to lend a hand (or a car, or a casserole…)

Thanks again for all your prayer, encouragement, large checks (you know, those never came through in the mail.  You’d better send them again…), and all around friendship during a tricky time.  Also, thanks for being sensitive to the fact that I’m enjoying the times where we can have other conversations not centered on my head; don’t be afraid to bring the topic up, of course, but then have something else to talk about waiting in the wings…

In our story, I present the two primary players: (more…)

AKA Phil Health Update- 5/12

Behind Door #1, we have a lovely stay at the University of Washington Medical Center, where the finest neurosurgeons at the 12th finest hospital in the land will carefully (one might even say “surgically”) remove what has been identified as a fast-growing reoccurrence of your old nemesis, Anaplastic Astrocytoma III.

Behind Door #2, we have a valiant attempt at shrinking, if not killing, said tumor.  This will be followed by an equally valiant, if not exponentially more uncomfortable (not to mention expensive) attempt at finishing the job by way of chemotherapy.  You know, the stuff that “finished the job” the first time around.  This is the door where we start “trying” things…

Behind Door #3…well, this is the door that calls back those 3-5 yr life expectancy numbers the docs told you at your initial tumor diagnosis consult.

So, which one will it be????? (more…)

Alright, here’s the deal with Phil (health-wise, that is.  You’re on your own to figure out the rest…):

– the past week or so has shown that my new tumor growth is definitely happening, and is raising some serious heck up there.  Lots of seizure-esque feelings all week, similar to what I’ve felt when having seizures in the past, have pretty much shut me down much of the time (at least, when I’m having to concentrate on things).   Way more than you wanted to know…

– I’m heading down to University of Washington to talk with my boys and “review my films” (which means, “Here’s what we can do” and “here’s what doesn’t make sense at this point.”  Hopefully, more of the former than the latter).  I’ll keep you posted on any info that comes from that.

In the meantime, your prayers, offers of practical assistance, and just general communications have been greatly appreciated.  As I’ve mentioned, I want to still have normal conversations in the middle of this process (whatever flavor it takes on), and that it’s really hard to offend me when asking questions or offering well-wishes.  And, most importantly, please continue to let me know what’s up in your lives, and how I can be praying for & supporting you (seems the least I can do).

The other thing you can do is check out this resource I’m drawing from:  Dr. David Servan-Schreiber (a neuropsychologist who developed brain cancer, which led to his independent study of how tumors are fed and/or inhibited by our foods & lifestyles) has assembled some incredible research findings about simple changes each of us can make to significantly decrease our likelihood of developing cancers (no miracle cures here!  Good, solid science backs up every claim…definitely worth a perusing).

Happy Mothers Day!

(in my efforts to maintain as much normalcy as possible during my latest tumor treatments, I’m pledging not to post a serious health update without first posting something funny and/or insightful.  I make no promises that today’s post will be either…)

What’s your dream job?  (more…)

Just to get you the latest Phil’s brain news (in follow-up to my latest adventure in the world of neuroscience), here’s what’s happening:

– University of Washington Medical Center (which, by the way, is just a top-notch outfit, and has, for the most part, been fantastic to work with) has my case on hand (excepting my image files which were sent by SNAIL MAIL…seriously, who still does that?).  Next step: my head will be discussed at this Wednesday’s Tumor Board Conference.  I should hear some plans by Thursday or so.

*I know, I know, my first thought was of some keynote speaker in a huge auditorium saying, “And now we come to Patient P…check out how screwed up this guy’s brain is!  Our top researchers are poring over his case as we speak, and are discovering new ways to be messed up by the hour!”  The TBC is totally standard procedure for any patient with a malignant tumor growth; teams of specialists from different fields (Neurosurgery, Oncology, and probably others) look over different cases and offer varied opinions on where to go next in that patient’s treatment.  No word on if they get commemorative coffee mugs from the conference, or a company tab on the hotel mini-bar…

– My arch-nemesis Dilantin, the anti-seizure meds I was taking over the past 1.5 yrs, is officially back on the menu now that I’m experiencing seizure-type symptoms again (which, for those of you keeping score, makes two archnemeses:  Dilantin, and the cockroach).  Problem is, the side effects from that one are worse than actually having the seizures themselves.  So pardon me if I need to excuse myself from face-to-face, or phone, chats occasionally; it’s just the Dilantin talking…

More info coming your way as I get it.  Thanks again for all your prayer and encouragement; I’ll try to take it all in the spirit in which it was given, and please know that you are loved and appreciated…

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