March 17th 2020. Today the luck of the Irish has faded.

Is it possible to keep optimism alive as humanity suffers a great deal? Can we be so bold as to smile again and to be thankful for this precious life we have been given? This life was always just borrowed time from the universe. How do we keep the spirit alive, the light a flame, and the embers smoking?

I can only speak for myself. But I have to dig deep and plunge into my inner well of memories, and recall a lifetime of blessings. This life is beautiful. And maybe Mama Earth is just trying to heal herself from the plaque of humanity. I see the images from Venice, and the waters are crystal clear and beautiful. The smog has lifted from our skylines. I can hear the birds clearly, without the rumble of distant highways. There is global peace descending on us, like a gifted veil. And the silver lining of our human destiny lies deep within the hearts of all of us.

I want someone to blame or something to punch. I want my anger at my cancer to cut thru the fog of chemo, and pierce my mental bubble. I want the lives of my family and friends to extend past this pandemic so that we can all look back on our life’s with reverence and gratitude.

Our planet will heal itself in time. She is in great pain at the moment and losing her grasp. So let’s reach out to her and hold her hand for a change. Isolate and quarantine your bodies, but let your hearts and spirits soar. Elevate your perspective. Share rather than hoard. Love thy neighbor, from a 6′ distance of course. And pick one informed and unbiased news source, and turn the rest OFF. Take this time to savor the miracle of our planet. When I found out I had brain cancer, I thought there was no way in hell I could experience a worse predicament. And yet here I am. Here we are.

No matter what, I know that my fortress is strong. Platelet counts don’t dictate my mood. The sudden risk of viral infection will not alter my mind. I am strong. I am grounded. I have roots deep on this earth and the winds may bend and sway my branches, but they will not break. I have work left to do. And deeper roots to grow before this tree of life is done. So wash your hands, play your part, and keep on moving. I choose love. Fear is dead.

March 13th, 2020. Today I hide.

No really, I have quarantined myself at home. I can not and will not take any chances. And having sacrificed as much as I have already, and fought as hard as I have, I must continue to preserve my health as best as possible.

For those who have written to me about blood transfusions for my low platelets, I am aware of this option. But we are only looking at a minor setback, for now. There might come a time that this escalates to a transfusion, but for now we wait to see if my amazing healing body can build my platelets up on their own.

So I hunker down and lay low with the rest of humanity. We are all in this one together. Stay safe. Stay protected as best you can. And just remember your weakened immunity brother’s and sisters’ who are the ones that will suffer the most. My brain cancer support group was cancelled as a result of this pandemic. I guess my outlook is… things could always be worse.

Today I may be stuck sitting at home cleaning every square inch of my home with Lysol, but it needed a good scrub. Today I may be absorbed in a jigsaw puzzle to pass the time, but my brain needed a good work out. Today I may be hiding from the coronavirus, but maybe Disney+ came out at exactly the right time to keep my eternal smile bright. Yes, we are all F@#KED right now. But things could always be worse. I think Anne Frank said it best:

“I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart”.

The Diary of Anne Frank.

And we the people will heal, and pray, and love, and fight. We will all stay healthy because we have to for each other!

Tuesday March 10th 2020. Today I wait.

Just a quick update that my father is doing well. He has been home from the hospital for several days and is doing really great. If I didn’t know what he had been through medically, I’d say he is doing better than ever. I guess I know from where I get my resilience.

The reason I wait is I still don’t have my blood test results back. But I hope by the end of the day. If my platelets are back up in numbers, I can begin my monthly chemotherapy. My dad being the jokester he is went thru the cupboard and found the smallest ceramic plates we have. He placed them on the counter and told me that I could use the small plates in my count. “Isn’t a small plate considered a platelet?” If only Mr. Slivinski it was that easy. But I’d I am thankful for his humor, because it makes me reassured that his mind is firing on all cylinders.

Friday March 6th 2020. Today I take a two steps forward and one step back.

My dear followers. Need your thoughts and prayers now for my father. He is in the hospital. He has had several minor strokes, close to 12. It is causing cognitive problems and his blood pressure is through the roof. Medication can help and is our primary source of therapy at this point.

And then there is my platelet count. It is low, very low. So my oncologist can’t administer chemo therapy because the drugs could cause internal bleeding without the ability for the blood to clot. The condition is called Thrombocytopenia. As a result of this turn of events I have reluctantly and at the heeded advice of my doctors decided to stop working. I am not going to smile and put on a happy face. My body needs to heal and it can’t in a state of stress.

So this is one of those points along the journey when I throw up my hands and think … this is bullshit. I am so over this. But we have to paddle through it. One stroke at a time. And by stroke, I mean stroke of the paddle. Send healing thoughts my way and my father’s. We need a little love right now.

Monday March 2nd 2020. Today I reach out.

I have been very quiet these last several weeks. And it’s not because I haven’t wanted to journal, but it’s because I haven’t had the time. Haven’t been busy with trivial life matters and work situations in quite some time. And that is refreshing.

I have an oncology appointment on Wednesday of this week. I don’t expect any grand reveals until my next brain scan. So there is a bit of a break in my schedule.

Returning back to work has been a huge challenge, I am not going to lie. I have had to put the training wheels back on. And in doing so I have observed and discovered many weaknesses. I am not upset by it, doing so would not help my confidence. But I am aware of my newly developed deficiencies, keenly so. So I work through a new work life balance and try my best to keep up.

And I always return to the same thought that life is lived on a scale. We balance as best we can, teetering between breakdowns and discoveries. I am so thankful for my spirit that guides me with humor, grace, and humility. Today the scale feels level, the pendulum at rest, and my positive perspective shines brighter than the sun.

And a big AND… I am dating someone. I will leave you with a little shot of romance to think about. Have a balanced and fantastic day, friends. May love fill our hearts in this dismal time. And cover your mouth properly when you cough!

February 11th 2020. Today I received a gift.

MRI with Profusion.

The blue represents the area of my tumor that is dead. The yellow represents tissue that is in the process of dying. And that tiny spec of red are the remaining active cancer cells receiving blood.

What does this mean? It means I am winning the battle. It means all the prayers and thoughts are working. It means that the radiation treatment was very effective. It means I now have proof that my positivity from day one has turned the tide. It means I have “years and years” of life left. Those are the exact words from my oncologist. It means that this battle will not defeat me, it will define me. And my purpose continues to move me in the direction of a higher calling.

I stay the course. I stay on the keto diet. I stay on 10 more months of chemotherapy treatments for one week each month. This will continue to suppress cancer growth, suppress the cancer cells that remain in my blood stream, and starve the tumor.

When I began this sail I thought the glorious light coming from the horizon was sunset. But now I see clearly. The light is dawn. It was always dawn. And I am awake.

Thursday February 6th 2020. Today I remember.

6 months ago this week, I laid in bed at the Swedish Institute in Seattle. I had just seen the mass in my head projected on a CT scan in my hospital room, and was told I had brain cancer. I remember James buying me a personal sized Key Lime Pie, my favorite. I remember laughing with Keith and Stefano about how I was flirting will all the hot male nurses. I remember bonding with one of my nurses named Kayley, and what a kindred spirit we shared. I remember feeling blessed to have been surrounded by love at my most trying time. I remember my first meal, thai, the night I left the hospital. And remember how comfortable I felt being with my chosen family in their home.

6 months ago this week, I didn’t know how I was going to make it back to Phoenix. I had no treatment plan, just a referral to one of the most prestigious neurological institutes in the country. I didn’t know that said institute was down the street from the home I had just purchased. I didn’t know how amazing my support group was in Phoenix who practically moved me in to my home. It was a fierce effort of love, led by my Sister-in-Law and Brother, Krystal and Stephen. And who can forget my dear friend Michael, who took care of so many personal details; I owe him a lifetime of thanks. And he continues to help me by being a great health advocate.

6 months ago this week, I couldn’t have wished for a greater reception of love. I couldn’t have possibly imagined seeing more of my friends and family than ever before. I savor all the visitors I have had since my diagnosis: Christa, James, Keith, Stefano, Crista (yes, I have two) , Rachel, Lorena, Aunt Cindy, Shannon, Kelly, Bridget, Noelia, Belinda, Danielle, Emily, Taylor, Bethann, Adam, Celeste… and that only includes out of towners!!! The locals get to hear me all the time thank them… at least I hope they know how grateful I am of everyone in my life. And of course there is loving support of my Dad. I can only imagine what he felt that fateful day last July when he learned about his son’s condition.

6 months ago this week my life changed forever. The course is not complete. I still have so much left to do. I have nephews to inspire, journals to publish, houses to design, and prayers to answer.

6 months is also the time I was told was my worse case life expectancy. Guess what people… I’m still here. I am a brain cancer survivor. I survive it everyday. And I will continue to survive. So help me God…

Note: MRI results delayed due to a comedy of errors. But I promise to post the results as soon as I get them.

Monday February 3rd 2020. Today I smile.

I smile from my morning espresso. Well, two morning espressos is my new norm. I smile at dawn’s light creeping into my eastern windows. I smile with the singing song birds. I smile at the fact that I am breathing and sustaining my life in that breath. And I smile as the hot water from my perfect home’s water heater hits my skin and steam rises clouding my glass enclosure.

“Simple joys have a simple way that say why not go ahead.” So why not smile as the roller coaster of life reaches its pinnacle height before the plunge? As my mom taught me, the worst thing that can ever happen to me has already happened. My fate was sealed as I buckled into my coaster of life long before I was aware. And of course I believe in having power over my own destiny, but maybe relinquishing this power to my higher being and just riding the track is all I can do today. Strap myself in with a smile on my face, two espressos as fuel, and enjoy the ride. Maybe I will even lift my hands in the air during free fall? Or clench tightly to the lap bar? Either way, the track determines my path. And merrily we roll along.

January 28th 2020. Today I went to a support group for brain tumor survivors.

And unexpectedly the meeting had a very adverse effect. I looked around the room, at married couples holding each other’s hands in support, and I just couldn’t hold back the feeling that I don’t deserve this at my age. I felt angry. I felt betrayed in some way. I felt alone. In a room full of cancer survivors and I still felt alone. Perhaps their intimate relationships on display and their beautiful support for each other, in sickness and in health, till death do they part was all too much for single me. I longed for a person, my person. And fear surfaced, and stayed.

I finished an incredible book last night titled On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. A gift from a high-school friend (thank you), it profoundly colored my lens. And I began piecing together moments in my own life where beauty was existence. Memories often where the feeling of being completely at peace were central, flooded my tumor pressed mind. How great this life, how gracious this world, and how beautiful this act of living is. My sadness weighed down the feeling that I may never know true love. What if my time left is meant to be brief? Perhaps to protect us from loneliness and loss, leaving this life early is only granted to the good hearted. For sometimes dying is easy and living is harder.

But mostly I am left with questions. Questions for my doctors and nurses, questions for my friends, questions of mortality, and questions that pang at my skull as if the very thought was clawing it’s way out of my grey matter. To escape the brain was my thought’s way of becoming real. And if it makes it to my tongue before my short term memory loss flushes it away, then I know it was meant to be.

This journal helps me validate myself. I don’t have a “David” of my own to be my advocate. I am simply an island. I look out and I look in. I hold the hand of fate and I am held in the embrace of the creator. And at each moment of awareness I awake to myself. We all exist in our own image of ourselves. And in the support group I didn’t see myself. But I will keep going. Because that’s what we do. We keep learning, and trying, and fighting, and living. We keep on breathing. We keep on.