Life AFTER the tumor can be harder than Treatment
My name is Jamie Gannon, and I’m a 16 year brain cancer survivor. I was dx with a golf ball sized Adult Medulloblastoma in Nov. 2000 that almost killed me; I was 27 years old.
I had a complete resection performed at Cedars Sinai, and then underwent 30 sessions of radiation to the head and spine with 18 months of chemotherapy. Up to that point I had been living my dream of being a professional actor, but that dream smashed against my tumor in a head-on collision.
I went through difficult side effects and even more difficult late effects after treatment, but there was very little survivorship information in 2003, so I was pretty-much on my own. It took me almost ten years of reading, researching, and experimenting on myself to learn how to truly heal. I am very happy to say that I am now healthier than I’ve been since my 20s, and the father of two beautiful kids; 13 and 7.
I’m pleased to see that top-shelf cancer centers now offer wonderful support programs after treatment, but there doesn’t seem to be an integrated system to help people incorporate these healthy practices into a sustainable lifestyle. As a result, survivors are still living in fear of recurrence, hampered by late effects, and not returning to their pre-dx levels of activity or fulfillment. It's one thing to be offered programs and information, it's a very different thing to APPLY them in our lives.
Nutrition as medicine, Qigong, conscious thought, and active spirituality can sound like woo-woo, hippy, snake-oil to the average survivor, or just too "different". But when they’re explained logically and we're helped to integrate them into our lifestyle by someone we trust it’s no different than learning new hobbies.
I don’t wear nose rings, or dreads in my hair, or advocate for the use of crystals. I’m a boring father of two who grew up in Philly eating hoagies and cheesteaks. I understand how hard it can be for people to change, but our cancer experience can be a gift when we leverage it to take health and wellness into our own hands.
It took me ten years to get back to feeling great physically, mentally, and emotionally, but I believe any survivor can do it in less than 12 months with the proper guidance.
My doctors saved my life, now it's my job to treat that life as a gift, and show others how to do it, too.