I was diagnosed with brain cancer in October 2019. I had the tumor removed in November (2019) which is medically defined as malignant, anaplastic ganglioglioma. This type of brain cancer is very rare, accounting for approximately 1 – 2% of all brain tumors. I had thirty sessions of radiation (December 2019 – January 2020) and have been having MRI’s every three months. However, MRI’s are now moving to every four months (as of September 2020)! Prior to this brain surgery, I was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2004. I was twenty-four at the time and living in Los Angeles with my wife. After my third grand-mal seizure, my wife and I moved to Little Rock as my seizures continued. I had over seventy seizures in 2010 and my first brain surgery in 2011. A part of my left-front temporal lobe was removed, but it was so small there was no official diagnosis. As a result of the size, no one knew it was a side effect of the cancer slowly growing in my brain. Although my seizures became more controlled, I continued having them after surgery. I underwent an additional procedure by having a Vagus Nerve Stimulator implanted in 2013. This, too, helped my seizures decrease, but they still occur (although not as often).
As you have noticed, I stated that “I am a cancer THRIVER!” I’m very grateful for having a successful brain surgery, but am I always “happy?” No! Does this mean I’m never afraid of what the future holds? No! Does this mean I’m not struggling with accepting the “C word?” No! So, how do I consider myself a cancer thriver? I continue moving forward even when I have fears, doubts, anxiety, “what if” questions and the list continues. I focus on the present moment. I pray. I count my blessings. I am thankful for all of the love and support I have from family (especially my wife!), friends and doctors. I try to be honest when I am scared. I run on a regular basis. I attend two cancer support groups. I am learning that life is a journey. I don’t know when it will rain…or snow…or be cloudy…or sunny… or what animals I may see…but it’s still a journey. My goal is to accept where I am on this journey and trust my Guide as He leads me.
As for my drama therapy experience, I started researching how I could use my theater training (BA in film/theatre from Southern Methodist University) in a healing and therapeutic way. I found lots of great information regarding universities, workshops and conferences for this profession. I attended an Applied Theatre workshop in Nashville, TN, under the direction of Dale Savidge, and continued my exploration at a Psychodrama workshop in Tupelo, MS, under the direction of John Rasbery. Finally, I attended the 2014 North American Drama Therapy Association Conference in Yosemite, CA, and chose to move forward by enrolling in the Master of Arts program in Drama Therapy at Kansas State University (KSU). There are a variety of ways to describe Drama Therapy. My definition includes:
I graduated from KSU in August 2017 and became a Registered Drama Therapist (RDT) in 2019. So as you continue your life’s journey, always remember…