I'm a 21 year old with stage 3 brain cancer. I had a seizure on December 28th, 2013 and was diagnosed with a brain tumor shortly after. I survived surgery on January 24th, 2014 and was hospitalized until the 28th. I've been a longtime lurker on reddit but I figured I would give r/iama insight into my situation for those who are curious. My health is inconsistent at the time being and my energy has been awfully low but I will do my best to answer whatever you all come up with! Ask me anything

My Proof: One pic is the night before my operation, the other is a few days after hospital discharge. http://imgur.com/kEUnO4L http://imgur.com/54nHLk9

Comments: 186 • Responses: 82  • Date: 

Loukoumades42 karma

I don't have a question.. But I wish you the best of luck. I've had lots of family with different kinds of cancers, and I sincerely hope you can enjoy your full life.

ryallba31 karma

Thanks a ton, friend. Cancer is a total asshole.

[deleted]13 karma

[deleted]

ryallba9 karma

Thanks man, your story helps me know that I can beat the odds. You keep being a hero!

iGNhere12 karma

Hey dude, I don't know if you know Charles Trippy but he went through a similar situation, undergoing 2 brain surgeries following his diagnosis of brain cancer. He's doing fine now and is on chemo but has undergone seizures every now and then. He runs a YouTube channel called CTFxC if you want to check it out. He vlogs everyday and he even documented his brain surgery!

ryallba6 karma

Thanks for the suggestion! I'll check it out!

boonamobile11 karma

Hey, big coincidence -- I also had a seizure on 12/28/13 that led to a brain tumor diagnosis. I just had surgery 1/31/14 and I'm recovering very quickly. I find out in about 10 days what the biopsy report says, and then I'll know my prognosis and follow up treatment plan.

Did they determine that the tumor in your brain had spread there from somewhere else? That's my understanding of the limiting conditions in which "brain cancer" is used to describe the situation (spread there from somewhere else)

ryallba5 karma

Mine was a primary brain tumor so it definitely originated in my head. I wish you the absolute best with your biopsy buddy!

AccountHaver259 karma

What is the progress on brain cancer research? It sounds like one of the worst things that could happen to a person so I hope they're working hard on a cure.

ryallba11 karma

Brain cancer is awfully ambiguous in nature but tumors and subsequent cancer can be treated through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. It's certainly been quite hard to come to terms with on a personal level. I'm very glad to live in a world of modern medicine where I do have options. 30 or 40 years ago my current state would be a death sentence so I have to be thankful for the circumstances.

[deleted]8 karma

What has been the hardest part of ths? What symptoms did you display before getting Diagnosed most of all you American?

ryallba13 karma

I didn't have any warning signs until I had a seizure and my health leading up to my diagnosis was completely normal. The hardest part has honestly been seeing the reactions of friends and family. They're all being strong for me and I know that if I want to beat this I have to be strong for them too. It's an extreme test of willpower. I am American.

[deleted]4 karma

Ouch...on both things, what kind of healthcare do you have? And in all honesty I'm just amazed you're being so open about all of this.

ryallba5 karma

Blue cross/blue shield. Things have worked out well with insurance so far. I figured my perspective is a pretty unique one given the circumstances so I don't mind sharing it. It's been a wild ride and it continues to be.

jesusson4202 karma

Blue Cross is actually a pretty goddamn respectable health care provider. IF you don't mind answering, where are you located? I mean, like, what hospital? My moms a nurse at Georgetown Hospital in DC so I'm curious

ryallba1 karma

Without being too specific for the sake of privacy I'm on the east coast slightly south of DC. I've got some good hospitals around which is extremely fortunate. I'm not afraid to make a trip to get whatever is the safest treatment but I do have some excellent options that are not too far away at all.

jesusson4202 karma

Oh, damn man. I'm in maryland. I go to school in baltimore, at UMBC. Are you from this region? There are some great hospitals around this area. I'm sure you're in great care.

ryallba2 karma

I'm pretty close to there. Yeah the hospital situation is fortunate for me overall and I'm in touch with some authorities in the field of neurosurgery. I feel insanely lucky given the circumstances.

jesusson4202 karma

I am not nearly smart enough to become a neuroscientist, but man, neuroscience seems absolutely fascinating to me. Sorry, kinda off topic. Yeap, this area is renowned for it's really hands on and great hospitals. I love the DMV area. Have lived here my whole life and I couldn't imagine being anywhere else. How hard has this whole process been on you, as far as school-wise? I imagine you've had to miss quite a bit. When were you diagnosed, if you don't mind me asking? or did you already include this answer somewhere...

ryallba2 karma

I would have been in my next to last semester of college now. I changed majors my junior year so I was due for one extra semester anyways. I withdrew just a few days before the first day of classes. I miss the hell out of friends and just having obligations in general. At this rate the plan is to return in the Fall and do one last full year to finish up but it's hard feeling like my whole life is on hold. I was having the time of my life and doing really well academically the past few semesters so it's pretty heartbreaking all in all.

discosanta6 karma

I spent 20 min looking at this page thinking of what to say, I'm not really good with words. I just keep thinking about what I was doing when I was 21 and can't imagine having to go through what you are going through. I want to wish you the best of health going forward, and stay strong.

And have a laugh on me.

ryallba4 karma

Haha thanks a ton! Humor always helps when times are dark. I really appreciate it!

fakegeetar5 karma

I wish you the best. Are there going to be any further treatments?

ryallba6 karma

Next steps are looking like radiation and chemotherapy at this point. Many thanks for the support!

SpreadItLikeTheHerp5 karma

First of all, good luck with treatment, stay as positive as possible!

Do you or your family follow a particular faith, or pray often? I ask because a close friend of mine is going through chemo and his church and family are proving to be a great support group... Just want to see if you have something similar behind you.

ryallba10 karma

I am not particularly religious. I've identified as agnostic most of my life but there are plenty of friends and family praying for me which in itself is uplifting. While I was in the hospital I felt myself leave my body after 3 days of not being able to eat or drink. The whole experience has really made me question my spirituality a lot more and reevaluate my life.

barriekansai4 karma

As a 40 year-old, it pisses me off to see a kid go through this. My thoughts are with you. Heal up quick.

ryallba4 karma

Yeah it's tough - especially feeling like my life was at a peak in a lot of ways before life threw me this curve ball. I know death comes eventually but I've got plenty of life left in me and don't feel like this is the end. Thanks for keeping me in your thoughts!

strangegirl1013 karma

I'm really sorry that you are going through this. I can't even imagine how difficult it must be for you.

I intend to go in the health filed and oncology branch interests me. I want to help people but I'm really bad at talking to them.

I was wondering, how are the health professionals treating you at the moment? Was there anything they did that really touched you?

And finally - roles reversed - if you were a health professional helping a patient with cancer, what would you do differently to how things are going atm?

I would really appreciate getting your perspective on this.

And best of luck my friend.

ryallba3 karma

All of my doctors have been very supportive given the circumstances. It's hard to imagine what they think I'm feeling right now and reality is even weirder being the center of a lot of attention for a medical reason like this but it's proven to me how intrinsically genuine many people are. It's restored a lot of my faith in humanity knowing people are capable of such kindness. If roles were reversed I would definitely want to help people in the same way that the doctors and therapists I've worked with have helped me. Cancer is awful but at this point I want to help prove that it can be defeated.

gmmosi3 karma

insightful stuff man. thanks for taking the time to do this, your situation provides a much needed prospective on this thing we call life and a glimpse at the power of the human spirit, truly inspiring. how has your outlook on things (life,society,religion,death) changed since your diagnoses, surgeries and recovery? also, i'm sure an out of body experience like you described having would have quite an impact.

ryallba4 karma

Yeah the out of body experience aspect is definitely something I'm going to carry with for the rest of my life. Since everything's gone down I've realized how superficial demands that society puts on us but our ideal goals should be leaving the world behind in a better place for others. Character is what matters, success is subjective... but it never hurts to try and help our brothers and sisters in life through the whole process. Everything that happens is a lesson in some way.

usp9253 karma

Hope you get better soon!

ryallba4 karma

Thanks so much! Hope I do too. Just gotta hold on and fight for now!

pootastic3 karma

Dude your attitude rocks. If, by some unfortunate shitshow of cosmic fucks, your diagnosis isn't great, and you wanna say fuck all and let's go sky dive and drink and shark dive etc etc... I'll pay my way and as much of yours as I can to make that shit real. We can dive for sharks, shoot beavers on my family farm... whatever the hell you want to do.

ryallba2 karma

Thanks so much man, people like you are what is right with humanity! Really warms my heart to know that individuals like you exist! I wish you all the best my friend.

randysnow3 karma

I truly wish you the best of luck… With that being said and I know I'm gonna get flamed for this… I hope you're taking actual hemp oil with a high CBD content… It very well may save your life

ryallba6 karma

Yeah I'm doing my best to consider all my options. I've been prescribed pain killers, steroids, and had countless injections in the hospital to keep me alive. At this point I'm just glad to still be around and still be me.

ARuss13 karma

I recently had a good friend go to the emergency room. She found out she has leukemia. What have you been doing to stay positive? I'm just looking for all the advice I can get to help her push through this. Also, I am very happy that you are being taken care of! Best of luck my friend.

ryallba6 karma

I'm a classical musician so I've been listening to a lot of my favorite symphonies lately. It keeps my mind active and it's pretty therapeutic.

CoughCoughMom2 karma

Baroque is one of my favorite genres; more specifically Vivaldi's Four Seasons. I love how he really captured how the year progresses. Perhaps you can relate to his composition a bit more as you go forward in your recovery.

ryallba3 karma

Huge fan of Vivaldi's Four Seasons here! I'm actually a tuba player - if you've never heard Oystein Baadsvik play it I'd suggest checking it out on YouTube. He's a total beast and will surprise you with what can be done on a tuba. I got to attend a masterclass with him a while back and he was amazingly good!

CoughCoughMom2 karma

Have you heard of Escala? A group on beautiful women rocking their electric violins too.

ryallba2 karma

I hadn't but I just checked them out on YouTube, quite impressive! Thanks for the recommendation!

artelope3 karma

Rick Simpson Oil? Also, hang in there. You're amazingly upbeat for such a whirlwind of shit on a platter.

ryallba3 karma

Haha perhaps. That kind of thing isn't very accessible where I'm at in the country but I'm doing my best to consider my options to the fullest. I figure I can either dwell on the harsh reality of this situation or just push forward the best I can so I choose to do the latter. Attitude is everything!

ohhitherebuddy3 karma

I'm very sorry to hear about your tumor, but I am glad that you are in the process of recovering!

What brain structure(s) was the tumor located in? Have you noticed anything different about yourself since the surgery?

ryallba4 karma

It was on near a nerve motor that controls the left side of my brain. When I first woke up after surgery I couldn't move my left arm and had a lot of trouble with balance but it's been coming back slowly. Gotta love brain plasticity!

NC_Law3 karma

I can only imagine what you were thinking when you woke up and your arm wasn't working, something like, "fuck, first cancer, now my arm?" Good luck to you.

ryallba3 karma

Oh yeah it was pretty rough. I had never felt closer to the end of my life. Just a few days ago I wasn't able to pick up a water bottle with my left hand or make a fist. But I'm here now typing decently enough. The progress has been nice, and rest helped a lot after surgery.

jesusson4202 karma

the human body is immensely powerful. God man, reading this AMA is restoring my faith in the power of the human spirit. You completely changed my demeanor man. Fuck. I wish I could be more like you man. You're a strong-ass mother fucker. I wish I had the courage you're showcasing here. Fuck man. You rule.

ryallba2 karma

Honestly I've never really considered myself a very brave person. I have plenty of fears and what's happening to me now is by far the scariest thing I've ever dealt with... but my psyche and attitude has done a lot of growing to accept the reality I'm now facing these past few weeks. Tough times make people tough. Cancer is a very frightening thing at 21 but I have way too much of a life left to live to let it stop me from making every effort to survive. The survivors I've met are my biggest heroes right now, and I hope to make this living nightmare into the best character building experience possible for me. If I can beat this I want to give others the hope that they can too. Thanks for the kind words friend!

jesusson4202 karma

Definitely man! What a selfless way of looking at things. Jesus.

Now that you mention that, has anyone you've met through this endeavor really stuck out to you? Have you encountered any people that you realize you'll always remember, and reflect upon something they specifically did or said? If so, what did they say/do?

ryallba6 karma

Yeah crazy stuff has been happening on a daily basis that gives me a lot of faith in humanity. The other day I was supposed to get an MRI and the doctor told me I couldn't since I still had staples in my head. I broke down in the doctor's office partly because I was stressed and also because my mood is going insane due to the steroids I have to take to reduce brain swelling. An older woman in the lobby saw how distraught I was, came up to me and simply told me she would be keeping me in my prayers. It was really comforting. I ended up getting the staples out later that day at an urgent care facility and had a random conversation with a guy about the super bowl. My encounters with these random people who were willing to talk and look out for a fellow person under visible distress was amazing. There is an amazing potential for good in all people and even the smallest act can make a huge difference.

Guisho3 karma

Man I don't even know what to say, I can only give you my best thoughts and be strong! Greetings from Argentina

ryallba3 karma

Thanks friend, much love from the States!

CoughCoughMom3 karma

Med student, classical violinist & cancer survivor here:

I just finished studying a huge section on the central nervous system, then read your AMA. What type of tumor did the surgeons remove & from what area? I read the left side of your body was affected, but can you be more specific to location? Were you told if the surgeon was optimistic on retrieving most of it?

Thanks for taking time for this AMA. I wish you a full recovery & a long life. I also appreciate (in advance) for answering te questions so I can become more knowledgable myself.

ryallba2 karma

When I woke up from surgery my entire left arm felt like a phantom limb and I couldn't move it no matter how hard I tried. The initial paralysis was mainly a result of brain swelling. It took me a few days but I'm getting a lot more comfortable with typing and using my hands a bit more every day. Recovery has been an arduous process but things are coming along well enough. Thanks for the compassion and understanding! Keep rocking medical school and violin. You're good to do what you're doing!

ima_foto_nut3 karma

My best wishes and thoughts for you. Keep your chin up and don't ever stop fighting. You're ability to be strong and post here to help others shows you're a fighter. Good luck to you, I wish you all the best.

ryallba2 karma

Thanks a ton! I love life way too much to give up at this point so rest assured I won't go down without a fight. The plan is to keep doing my absolute best to hang in there and make it. It's a tough road but I'm trying to look at it all as some sort of crazy life lesson. It's changed me for sure, I just have to make sure it's in a positive way.

frothy-when-agitated3 karma

Man this sucks, no one your age should be facing cancer. Fuck cancer!

Question: Were you awake during your surgery? I have heard that brain surgery patients are kept awake so the surgeons can check their responsiveness to certain questions/commands.

I'm sending good karma and vibes your way! Stay strong and never give up.

EDIT: Just read in one of your answers when you woke up after surgery, meaning you were asleep. Please disregard my question.

ryallba4 karma

Surgery lasted about 4 hours but I was awake for 2. I was on plenty of drugs but I actually was conscious when I felt the drills going in my head which was pretty freaking scary. During the surgery I just carried on random conversations about hobbies and interests with the doctor and his team. The worst part about being awake during is that I've been having recurring nightmares every night since it happened.

maybedawn3 karma

No questions here, just want to let you know that I'm cheering you on. Cancer sucks, but there's a lot of very smart people working on making it suck less. It's always so alarming to hear that you can be perfectly healthy one day, then the next day have stage 3 brain cancer.

Hopefully your chemo/radiation go well, with minimal side effects for you!

ryallba2 karma

Thanks for the kindness! Yeah life is remarkably weird in the sense that bad things just strike when we least expect it... but people are strong and the human spirit is an amazing thing. When we face things like illness or the possibility of death our resolve seems to adapt if we choose to allow it to. Pain is the best teacher in life.

revolutionbaby2 karma

Best wishes from germany, I hope you get well soon!

ryallba2 karma

Thanks very much! Wishing you the best too!

ThatsNotUranus2 karma

Am I the only one that saw a kitten as his proof?

ryallba2 karma

My bad. Just edited and hopefully fixed it. Whoops.

fleurdoranger2 karma

good luck man. it's cool of you to do this ama. that's all i have to say.

ryallba3 karma

Thanks a ton man!

Weatherburn2 karma

Very best luck!

ryallba2 karma

Thank you very much!

zpenrith2 karma

what would you say if you could personally talk the people who cure cancer?

ryallba4 karma

I'd simply thank them for their work. Cancer is a terrible thing that takes away many valuable members of society and it's amazing what advances has been made in terms of treatment.

solinvictus72 karma

You said that the next step for you is radiation/chemotherapy. My mom was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer a year ago. She went through chemo for several months, and it was pretty rough. She says that it was the support of family/friends (thankfully she had a lot of support) that got her through. So not a question, but just some advice for you...surround yourself with positivity. You're gonna need a lot of it. Stick close to people who will be a positive influence. Keep your head up and best of luck!

ryallba2 karma

Yeah friends and family have been an invaluable source of support through all of this. Willpower is much more important than strength in this fight and the people and things I love keep me holding on. I'm just trying to live each day to the fullest while I know I still can. Thanks for the kind words and advice!

scaredandalone2122 karma

I can't even imagine going through something like that. I was upset and complaining bc I have exams next week. You really made me wake up. I am so happy that you are doing better, fight hard my friend bc it will make you stronger in the end. As soon as you return to your normal routine, you will have a super scope on life. When you've been through war, a battle is nothing. In my god honest honesty, I wish you the best of luck and congrats for having a successful surgery. You are indeed my hero mate. Thank you and god bless <3

ryallba2 karma

Thanks very much friend. My life was going incredibly well before this happened but I know if I make it there's no way I'll be able to take life for granted again. I'm just trying to look at it all as some crazy sort of blessing in disguise. Gotta make the best of a worst situation I guess.

MrDrSnap2 karma

Again, no questions. All the best man!

ryallba3 karma

Huge thanks buddy!

ben_132 karma

Kinda scared to write this because I had what I'm told was a seizure end of nov 2013 but what was the progression of tests that determined it was a tumor and cancer? I've had several EEGs myself and wore a heart monitor (they didn't know the cause), they've said the first EEG showed signs of "spikes" typical with epilepsy and wanted to start med's however a 2nd EEG before seeing the epilepsy dr did not show these spikes but showed what he called "slowing" which I didn't think to ask for more info on...so now he is hesitant on med's ... anyway kind of in a daze personally lately but my biggest fear (sorry) is that its something like this. I've currently lost my license making getting to work hard but I can work remote so I'm doing that a few days a week.

Being in Canada my coverage is there however its SLOW, the EEGs were scheduled to happen months out but luckily due to cancellations I was able to get in early. I'm not waiting on an MRI that won't happen until April ... then another EEG in May.... our care in Canada is paid for but it certainly isn't fast. Anyway not trying to steal any attention from this thread, and I almost skipped over it for fear I'd read something that would scare me. I'm hoping for the best, and all the best to you man.

edit I should clarify that when it happened I was at work but no one was around, I was talking online to a friend and then I don't remember... it was like waking up and felt like a radio tuning in, lots of static and people yelling at me (there were no people I realized eventually...sort of that feeling when you are waking from a nap) it was only 2 minutes or less I was out and I did not fall out of my chair.

ryallba3 karma

I've never had any sort of history with epilepsy and my seizure wasn't epileptic in nature. The initial test that indicated something was wrong was a CAT scan in my case followed up by an MRI and an EEG which confirmed abnormal brain activity. I totally understand the fear you must be dealing with but I hope you're able to get some answers man. It might be scary but it will benefit you to know what you're up against. If you do get the bad news you'll do what people are good at which is adapt. You're a lot stronger than you think you are when times get truly tough. I'll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers brother, and I wish you the best as well. Stay strong and fight hard man!

youngkangaroo2 karma

What's treatment like for you?

ryallba3 karma

Surgery already happened which basically felt like a massive hangover for 5 days. Now I'm out of the hospital getting physical therapy and plenty of prescriptions. It's been rough. Next steps are going to be radiation and chemotherapy. It'll be tough but at this point I really just want to live so I feel ready for whatever comes next.

youngkangaroo3 karma

Have you ever had the "I need to do everything on my bucket list" mentality when you were diagnosed?

ryallba5 karma

Yeah absolutely! Honestly I just want to make sure I feel like I do everything I can to thank my friends and family for the positive influences they've been in my life. You really learn who matters and who doesn't when faced with the possibility of dying. I don't believe this is my time quite yet and I won't go down without a fight, but I feel like the most important thing is trying to be as strong and positive as possible for all the people who have meant so much to me over the years. It's an urge to leave the world a better place in as many ways as I think I can while I know I still have the time to over anything else.

youngkangaroo2 karma

Do you feel as if you accomplished your biggest goal?

ryallba3 karma

Honestly I haven't but I have the hope that I'll survive this and be able to achieve it, whatever it ends up being. I don't feel like I have a single particular goal I want to get done but I'm very happy with the life I've lived and the people I've known.

youngkangaroo2 karma

When you got the news what's was the first thing you thought of

ryallba3 karma

When I found out about the tumor my mind started racing non-stop about what exactly was going on with me. I felt completely fine besides the fact that I had a seizure out of the blue. Since surgery and getting a pathology report back indicating cancer I've just been surviving in all honesty. I was extremely depressed at first but it's made me realize how integral my attitude is going to be in the outcome of all of this. I really appreciate life now and want nothing more than to keep living. I haven't always felt that way especially looking back on my point of view from just a decade ago. Life's hard but it's a beautiful thing that shouldn't be taken for granted. I aim to enjoy it while I know I still can and hopefully enjoy it for a long time.

Midnitemare2 karma

I don't know what to say other than good luck. My Grandpa passed away a year ago this Friday from a nasty advanced form of brain cancer. I hope and pray that you don't end up in the same situation. Good luck Hun! You can do this!

ryallba2 karma

I'm so sorry to hear that and I wish you and your family the best. You have my condolences. If it provides you any comfort I really do believe your grandfather is still with you whether you know it or not. After what I've been through I feel like death really isn't the end, it's a transition. Much love and thank you for the kind words!

TheZappster2 karma

Stay strong and good luck dude. I have a friend that's alive many years later after brain cancer. Be positive.

ryallba4 karma

That's the plan. It's a battle to stay optimistic but that's my best bet right now. Thanks a ton!

hivebomb5 karma

My Ex had an astrocytoma that her neurosurgeon was certain would kill her "within 5 years". She did not agree of course, and 18 years later I would say she was right not to.

Find doctors you believe in, but don't believe everything they say.

ryallba4 karma

Yeah I've been blessed with having incredibly good doctors who don't try to scare me with statistics but are realistic and mature in the way they inform me of what I'm up against. Having a surgeon I trusted was a big part of the process - the one I ended up with was actually a second opinion but I feel like it's the reason I'm still around now.

kosmonaut52 karma

Not sure if someone has asked already, but what is something you want to do that you havent had the oppurtunity to do yet?

On another note...if you could have a superpower, which one would you have? :)

ryallba1 karma

Good question! It's hard to narrow any sort of bucket list down at this point but my plan lately has just been to try to make the most of every day. I want to make a serious effort to put myself in the best condition I've been for whatever comes next in treatment. As far as a superpower I would say either the ability to heal/regenerate or just unconquerable mental fortitude and fearlessness if those count, haha.

Igotdatpandemic2 karma

Whats the 5 year survival rate for your cancer?

ryallba3 karma

I'm not sure of the specifics. I'm honestly trying to avoid looking at the odds of survival and rather just focus on doing whatever I can to live. I meet with my surgeon again in a few days, so if I hear anything new I'll try to give you a better answer.

Igotdatpandemic3 karma

I understand bro. Well on the upside you are gonna get prescribed some great painkillers. Opana is my recommendation. also get on some medical herb! It might help fight cancer but even if it doesn't it will make you feel better.Goodluck!!!

jesusson4201 karma

Dude have you not been paying attention? he's reached a level of complacency and love for life that drugs/particularly pain killers, are just invalidated.

ryallba1 karma

Yeah u/jesusson420 is right. At this point I feel like the less drugs I'm on the better. I was prescribed oxy for pain but I'm not a big fan of the way it makes me feel and the last thing I want is to develop any sort of dependency on it. The steroids I have to take to reduce brain swelling are particularly awful. My mood is all over the place and can be extremely hard to control. Medicinal herb isn't a legal option for me based on location but everything I've read makes it sound like it would help tremendously, especially in combating the side effects of chemo. I'm willing to try whatever it takes - this is the rest of my life at stake and I'll take whatever help I can get.

pride19142 karma

One of my co-workers husband recently got diagnosed with brain cancer and is having surgery very soon. Do you have any advice I can give to either of them on how to deal with the diagnosis, recovery from surgery, and living with the aftermath in general? I'm sure both of them would really find use out of the information and I would greatly appreciate it. Good luck sir, I'm not religious but I will be praying for you.

ryallba2 karma

I recommend staying as occupied as possible with hobbies and interests. Friends and family will be concerned to the point of it being overwhelming at times but recovery is a priority over all else. Stress optimism as much as possible. It's scary as hell to have a life threatening medical condition but it's not the end if one is willing to put up a fight. Attitude is everything and perspective is what matters. The concept of death can be frightening but tell him to hold on to the things he loves about life as hard as possible. I wish your co-worker's husband the best and I'm willing to get in touch if he ever needs a POV from someone being dealt a similar hand. Thank you!

Vaelik2 karma

Did you happen to notice a change in the way your mind functioned or any ideas you thought of when you probably started to have the cancer, but had not been diagnosed? More specifically the days leading up the the seizure. If so, how vast of a change was it and if it was gradual, how different is it from before hand? I have always been curious on the mindset and brain functions of numerous different things such as any disease, chemical enhancements or altered inputs. Thank you and I wish you the best of luck!

ryallba2 karma

I knew for sure that something was bad when I was getting an EEG and MRI following my seizure just due to a gut feeling but other than that there were no warnings. During a portion of the surgery while I was awake I heard one of the surgeon's assistants say it was a high grade tumor and felt my heart sink... a lot. The surgeons I consulted beforehand were really thinking it was benign so that was extremely disheartening to learn otherwise. My perception has felt slightly off since surgery and I seem to neglect the left side of my body sometimes but it is coming back gradually which I'm super happy about. Thanks for the well wishes friend!

Letsgo12 karma

I sincerely hope you get well again. I am 22 and that one title just helped put things into perspective a bit. Good luck

ryallba3 karma

Yeah if you can learn anything from me, try to never take your life and your health for granted. It's easy to get caught up in all the simple mishaps of daily life but the bigger picture is a really beautiful thing. Thanks and I wish you the best!

jesusson4202 karma

I don't know who you are man but you're certainly a strong ass person. You'll do fine. I can feel it. I hope your family and yourself have a great future, and I wish you both only the best.

ryallba1 karma

Thanks so much man!

jesusson4202 karma

Not a problem man. I'm sitting here, trying to read this book for my Jewish Studies class and I take a break to click around on reddit for a bit and I stumble across your AMA.... for the next twenty minutes I was enamored. You're a cool ass person man. If everyone in the world were as mature and courageous as you the world would be a much better place. I truly mean that.

ryallba2 karma

Thanks a ton man. It's wild to be have felt so young a month or two ago and so close to the edge between life and death today. It really does put things in perspective. I regret that it's taken me so long to realize how beautiful life is but no matter what happens I'm doing my best to make the most of every breath until my last.

jesusson4202 karma

Of course man. It's the least I could do, that and give you my utmost condolences. I almost died when I was in HS, I was in a drug induced coma for a week and was then in the hospital for a month after that. I actually had this really random illness called http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemierre's_syndrome. It's basically a really bad throat infection that results in a blood clot. But I didn't realize how close I came to dying until after the fact. So. It sort of just left me feeling confused and hazy. I eventually wrapped my head around the potential outcome and I certainly adjusted the way that I view death. But. Idk. Since the danger had already came and went, it wasn't something I dwelled on too deeply. I had no control over it. I wasn't battling it. Unlike you, unfortunately. That's beautiful though man. I'm so glad to hear that you're making the best out of a situation, that frankly, if it were me, I'd probably just be immensely frustrated and angry at whatever "god" or higher being lays out there. I don't know you, but I can tell there's truth in your words.

ryallba1 karma

Yeah at this point I just have to go with the flow. At first I was spectacularly pissed off to learn about the cancer, especially since it hit me when life was going really well... but my options now boil down to either getting mad at the hand I've been dealt or simply trying to play my cards anyways. There's nothing to lose through trying but everything to lose through giving up. That much is pretty clear to me.

apecakess2 karma

What were you doing prior to learning your diagnosis? As in, you're 21 years old. Were you going to school? Working? What was you life like before all of this? And have you thought about what you want to do when you get past this? Will you pick up where you left off or have your plans changed? I can't imagine going from average every day life to a cancer diagnosis, just like that. And of course, I wish you all the best, medically and life in general.

ryallba1 karma

I was a full time student studying music performance. My concentration is actually tuba but I play around on any instrument I find and have always loved it. I intend to beat this and pick up where I left off because my career was looking pretty bright before all this happened. The first few days after surgery were really scary since I had lost feeling in my left arm and I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to play again after a failed attempt to practice. I'm slowly easing back into a normal routine and things are certainly getting better. My plan now is to try my best to return to school next Fall, finish up my degree and do the whole grad school thing later on. Thanks for the kind words!

jaketheshreeder2 karma

so how much weed do you smoke?

ryallba1 karma

I don't since where I'm located people are quite opposed to the idea that it has medical value... but in educating myself on it, cannabis sounds like a sound option. This is the rest of my life at stake - I'm willing to try anything that could help.

ryallba2 karma

Thanks so much! Music's definitely been keeping my spirits up and this song was no exception! I truly appreciate it.

I0n5O27RjTsd1 karma

Then you might like this.

ryallba2 karma

Love it! Thanks a ton bud!

ryallba2 karma

Hi all, huge thanks for helping me out with this AMA! I had a lot of fun answering your questions and additional thanks to those of you that offered medical advice! I'm starting my radiation and chemotherapy tomorrow for anyone who might be wondering. It'll last 6 weeks but I'm extremely determined to make it. Your support has been invaluable and I'll be keeping your compassion, positive vibes and prayers in mind over the course of my treatment! Thanks again to all of you!

interestedinasking1 karma

Man, I can only imagine how hard this must be, and I wish you the best of luck. Just one question though, did you have any symptons before this or notice anything unusual? Anyway, best of luck.

ryallba2 karma

Before I had the seizure there were no warning signs at all. I felt like I was at the best health I had been in a while in fact. It totally hit me out of the blue when it happened. Thankfully I was with two of my best friends, my dad and my brother when I lost consciousness which was extremely fortunate. Thanks for the kindness!

interestedinasking1 karma

oh wow, that sounds really unfortunate, but again I do really wish you the best of luck and that you beat it!

ryallba2 karma

Yeah it is what it is... at this point my plan is simply to beat it and move forward with my life. Thanks for the kind words!

jkzebrafish1 karma

Brain researcher here.

I admire your courage to stay positive despite a scary path to tread. You are absolutely right that positive attitudes will have psychosomatic effects on your health and recovery. Do everything you can to keep up your spirits!

Recently it has become clear that there a few things that can help dramatically to increase feelings of well-being. One is environmental enrichment. For a rat that means housing with a lot of multicolored various toys, varied foods, buried treats, things to climb on, etc. I guess for a human that would translate to many different stimulating activites that you like.

Number two is exercise. Exercise exercise exercise! This has massive anti-depressant effects on mouse and rat brains. Even if you feel like crap you need to get out and move to make yourself feel better. In addition, I bet it will soon be shown that exercise ITSELF has anti-cancer effects because it is such a panacea for health.

Good luck man, my thoughts are with you! By the way was the exact diagnosis astrocytoma?

ryallba1 karma

I'm actually headed back to my surgeon for a more detailed post-op report later this week but I think astrocytoma is correct. I'll get back to you on it. Thanks for the suggestions too, I'm doing my best to make sure I'm at peak physical and mental health before I have to go through with the next steps. Keep doing the work you're doing, it's people like you that help people like me to have a second lease on life when things hit the fan. I can't thank you enough for the understanding and support as well.

3AlarmLampscooter3 karma

If it's an astrocytoma, I would absolutely talk with your doctors about trying to get into this clinical trial or a similar one.

Gene therapy is by far the best hope for a complete cure for an astrocytoma. Radiation, surgery and chemo usually end up being palliative measures, regardless of how aggressive they are.

The fact you're still in stage 3 gives you the best chance of curative experimental intervention before it's too late.

ryallba2 karma

I will definitely ask about that the next time I meet with my surgeon. Thank you so much for the advice!

BucketInTheSand1 karma

My Dad has been dealing with a sever brain tumour (tennis ball sized on the left side of his brain) for the last couple of years. All of last year he was doing both chemo and radiation therapy, which has managed to drastically shrink the tumour.

I do not have any questions for you, but I just wanted to let you know that I have indirectly gone through what you are going through (via my Dad) and that I sincerely wish you the best. If you would ever like anyone to vent to or talk to, I'd be more than happy to listen.

ryallba2 karma

I wish you and your dad the best. I really appreciate the kind words and support too! It's good to know people like you are out there being a positive force for me and others dealing with things of a similar nature. You have my utmost respect and gratitude.

SoFeelGood1 karma

I wanted to ask if you have tried or know someone who tried some, let's say controversial therapies, B17 vitamine especially? I'm sorry if the question is stupid or pisses you off.. Wish you all the best, hope you defeat that asshole cancer!

ryallba1 karma

I can't say I have. Sure wish I could give you a better answer. Thanks for the support!

Ituvia1 karma

I wish you well, my friend. My question is, what were your symptoms? Do you have any advice for people that they should keep a 'look out ' for just so it isn't too late?

ryallba1 karma

No real symptoms were present until I had a seizure out of the blue. It was honestly impossible to see coming in any way shape or form until it happened. Thanks for the well wishes!

ryallba1 karma

It completely took me by surprise and I had felt completely fine even leading up to having the seizure. The day after my body just felt extremely stiff. It's just one of those things that's really hard to see coming... such is life I guess. Thanks for the well wishes!

pootastic2 karma

Love you dude. Beat this shit.

ryallba1 karma

That's the plan! Thanks a ton man! I also appreciate your username too, haha

Goldieeee1 karma

I wish you nothing but the best! Please create a Blog or something so we can follow your recovery :)

ryallba1 karma

Thanks so much! I will definitely look into that - been reading plenty of good blog material about similar things and hopefully I'll find plenty to say over these next few months of treatment.

SamanthaMo1 karma

No questions. I hope you the best.

ryallba1 karma

Thanks so much!

darkgod1531 karma

Did all of this ever cause you depression? Also i wish you luck with all of this. I had a dear friend of mine get murdered over cancer (Long story), but its not somthing that can be taken easily. GL on everything!

ryallba3 karma

Oh yeah definitely. I'm fighting it every day. But it makes me appreciate the life I've lived more than I ever have. I used to struggle with depression back in my teenage years but after dealing with what I am now that feels like nothing. Life is beautiful and I will fight to hold on to it with everything I've got.

asscracknbacksack1 karma

Read shrinkage its about a brain cancer survivor..funny

ryallba1 karma

I'll check it out. Thanks for the suggestion!

ALLAHUFUCKBAR-17 karma

You're most likely going to die. Are you afraid?

ryallba9 karma

My goal is to beat the odds. I already died briefly when I was in the hospital and I feel a lot less afraid of it now. I had an out of body experience but my feelings, memories, awareness and consciousness were still there. There's plenty to be scared of but I will fight my hardest.

I0n5O27RjTsd4 karma

Tell us about this out of body experience.

ryallba6 karma

Basically I was in the hospital bed at night with a lot of tubes and drugs in me keeping me alive. I hadn't been able to eat or drink without vomiting for 3 days. I felt my consciousness slip away from my body and was surrounded by faces of people I felt like I recognized although I had not known them in my life. It was extremely bizarre but when it happened I felt myself completely come to terms with the idea of being dead. Possibly the single most monumentally life changing experience I've ever had.

I0n5O27RjTsd3 karma

How long did it last? Did you see a bright white light or beautiful music or angels? Do you believe you experienced something real or a hallucination?

ryallba2 karma

Time simply ceased to matter while I was there. I have no idea how long I was there. It could have had something to do with all the drugs in my system at the time but it felt genuine enough to me, especially in retrospect. It was more of a fade to black than entering white light but it was comforting in an odd way.

[deleted]-16 karma

[deleted]

ryallba4 karma

Sorry but nope.

MrDrSnap7 karma

I know sometimes one bad remark can overshadow a dozen good ones so please, for your mental health and for me not getting very angry, ignore this prick.

ryallba2 karma

Yeah I'll pay it no mind. Thanks for the support!

mw7122 karma

You fucking suck. OP ignore this asshole

ALLAHUFUCKBAR-4 karma

What the fuck are you, an ancient Egyptian burying a pharaoh with his belongings?

ryallba4 karma

I guess so. All I can say is I genuinely feel bad for you. Grow a spine and some sympathy. You will die too one day and I hope by that point you've had plenty of time to consider what you will leave behind.

Ituvia2 karma

OP, Ignore the asshole. Get well soon my friend.

ryallba2 karma

Will do. Thank you!