In 2008, I was diagnosed with a brain tumour, a malignant ganglioglioma, after suffering a seizure — the first of many that I’ve suffered. I was 22 and was living with a girlfriend in Fredericton, but chose to follow Bob Dylan’s east coast tour to Newfoundland, my home, where I chose to have surgery, so that I could have family support.
My first surgery went extremely smoothly, and no further treatments were deemed necessary. My first request after getting out of the recovery room was for a large coffee, a good indication that I was doing fine. My time in the hospital was spent reading and following the news, where Ted Kennedy had just been released with a glioblastoma.
My initial emotional and intellectual response was one of disconnected curiosity than of fear or anger or anxiety. I regarded my new diagnosis as something that came with some privilege — brain cancer is a rare and fascinating experience. It was meaningful for me to be able to understand an experience that most people don’t until later in life. When my oncologist shared some statistics — 1 in 3 survivors after 5 years — my first thought was “too bad for the other 2 poor sods.”