Sometimes you just have to get whacked in the face and lose your mind:)
I know I’m going to sound like I lost my mind…and quite frankly, I did just have a clementine size brain tumor removed…but it’s true: I’m grateful this happened to me. Wondering if you have brain cancer for weeks, days of crying in pain in the ICU, not remembering days of events, having to go into the operating room twice, not knowing if and when your vision will fully return…have humbled and transformed me in ways I never imagined. At this very moment, my eyesight is stuck at 65%…but! I’ve never had more clarity on the value and purpose of my life. Henry Wanyoike, a world famous blind marathoner I once interviewed told me: you don’t have to see…to have a vision. Henry, with his earnings from his races, pays the electricity bill for his village in Kenya. Because of Henry…his village can see at night. I could never be as noble as Henry…but I do hope my experience can shed “light” in some way. Where I am now will always be a point of reference for me: Julie pre-tumor…Julie post-tumor. As I sit here patiently waiting to see just how much of my vision returns…I smile thinking about how lucky I am. How fortunate that I took up surfing. How awesome that my board whacked me in the eye leading me to go get a CT scan. How fantastic that the tumor was so large that the radiologists were able to see it through just a face scan…which then prompted a full MRI. And drum roll! I just got the official pathology last week and I’m relieved to report that my tumor was a benign meningioma. I genuinely feel like I have a new lease on life…and with that…my 12 days of Christmas gratitudes.
1) I’m thankful to be alive. As you can see from my X-ray, my tumor was living large (and not paying rent!!). Worst outcome from a tumor of this size is to have a seizure while asleep and never waking up. I’m still here:)
2) My deepest gratitude to the neurosurgery team at UCSF. Dr. Michael McDermott and Dr. Mitch Berger are real life super heros. Despite their world renowned status…they were approachable and accessible. I would’ve been lucky to have just one of them in the operating room…let alone both. And really, I should say three! Dr. Michael Ivan must’ve answered a million of my questions. Thank you for putting my mind at ease…literally.
3) I have a new profound appreciation for all those who work in the medical field. My ICU nurses were everything! Jessie, David, and the others whose names I’m forgetting. Excuse the “brain” fart, but I was on some serious narcotic meds for weeks:) When they relocated me to another part of the hospital, David was kind enough to come visit me to make sure I was getting the best care. Doctors, nurses, technicians, nurse practitioners, etc…THANK YOU FOR THE TRULY IMPORTANT WORK THAT YOU DO.
4) Perhaps one of the greatest blessings of my life is that my tumor decided to be benign. Thank you, tumor.
5) My family, friends, and my man…I owe you everything. During the darkest of times…you provided the light. And a whole lot of laughter! Just a day before my surgery…my cousin’s beautiful daughter, Kiki…was the best medicine to calm my nerves. And my other cousin who runs Cafe Barley in SF along with my aunt made sure I had the most delicious eats before jumping on the Jello hospital diet. And I also had family who welcomed me into their home pre/post surgery in the warmest fashion in SF. THANK YOU for the hilarious dance-off! It was just what I needed before laying in a bed for a week.And perhaps because he knew that my vision will be impacted…or maybe because he wanted me to be at my most zen state…my guy planned a day for me ride horses and to see one of the most stunning sunsets en route to San Francisco. I do think that throughout this whole ordeal…he has had it the toughest. I was knocked out, drugged up, or too weak for the first two weeks to realize what’s going on. He sat there…saw it all…and held my hand. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
In a non-morbid way…I kind of feel like this experience allowed me to attend my own funeral. I heard from friends near and far…old and new…some hopped on planes to give me a hug before the big surgery…my Venice crew threw a “Throw this Tumor in the Trash” BBQ party…the list goes on. Friends, I’m not sure you said all those nice things to me because you thought I was not going to make it…but if that’s the case…please don’t tell me. You made me feel pretty awesome.
6) So grateful for my colleagues (past & present) and YOU! Everyone at FOX 11/Good Day LA has been so supportive. Many of my Good Day peeps made me “care packages” for my journey…not to mention daily (if not hourly) check-in phone calls or texts. And I’ve simply been overwhelmed by the love and concern YOU have shown me. They say outlook is everything…and your constant flow of positive light has been pivotal throughout my healing. One of the most common side effects of brain surgery is depression. I started to feel down 3 days after my surgery…and apparently that’s when my former colleagues Rosanna Scotto and Greg Kelly talked about my condition on WNWY/Good Day New York. Within seconds, I was flooded with more kind messages. It was just the pick-me-up I needed to dig myself out of what could’ve been a deep, downward spiral. From offering to help pay for my medical costs (so nice of you, but I could never) to warm affirmations to uplifting “come back soon” comments…I read each and every one of your thoughtful remarks. Out of the sea of positive shout outs…I just randomly grabbed this screen shot below. Again, thank you thank you thank you.The rest of my 12 days of Christmas gratitudes will be posted soon…