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Things I Know to Be True

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GailandFamily.jpgAsk any of my friends - I really love the microphone. So, when I was offered an opportunity to team up with my brain surgeon and speak on my cancer experience and the progress in treatment and technology for brain tumors, I immediately asked him and we said yes.

When it was almost time for the annual fundraising luncheon for the Volunteer Endowment for Patient Support (VEPS), I used my "waking sleep" thinking about what I might say. I spent even more time obsessing over the pronunciation of "oligodendroglioma," the type of tumor I was diagnosed with. I worked a little on Saturday before the Wednesday event just jotting down some notes for my speech. I read them the next day - boring, truly boring.

Sunday night, again in my waking sleep, I came up with a way to approach the talk - everything I planned to say came under the heading of "Things I Know to Be True." So, for those of you who missed what I had to say, here is what I know:

•  If you can pronounce Ollie - go - den - dro - glioma, you probably have one. I practiced and practiced and I still can't say it.

•  MD Anderson is a small world after all. It was amazing how many friends I saw the first time I walked in the doors of Clark Clinic as a patient.

•  The BrainSUITE looks pretty different when you're awake. A personal tour conducted by my surgeon after the fact made me glad I hadn't seen it before. While a GPS is always nice, it's strange to think that someone is using one to map your brain.

•  Extra-strength Tylenol is the drug of choice. When I asked what to do if my head hurt once I was home from the hospital, this was the advice given me.

•  My family comes in full force! I'm telling you, they were everywhere - during doctor's appointments, waiting through the surgery and for a long time afterwards, they were, and continue to be, a true support group.

•  Everyone needs a support group. I mentioned my family, but I can't forget my friends and colleagues who were there every step of the way. How would you like dinner delivered to your door each day for two months? It really did happen.

•  It's very different to be a patient. I've been an MD Anderson employee for more than 10 years now, but I wasn't expecting to be a patient. You certainly see things from another side when you take off that badge and come here to see a doctor.

•  Oct. 1 - Independence Day! Most people celebrate the Fourth of July. I celebrate Oct. 1 because, after six long months, that was the day that I was allowed to drive again. My husband is a great chauffeur, but it's nice to be able to drive myself around again.

•  Memories. I've lost some, but I've certainly made some new ones. I thought I remembered every bit of those first few days of April - turns out that I don't. However, I sure have some special friends to thank and celebrate for being with me the entire time.

•  Happiness is a warm blanket. This is the final thing I know to be true. After years of serving on the VEPS disbursement committee and funding blanket warmers for various clinics and areas at MD Anderson, I myself was offered a warm blanket. Believe me, there's nothing in the world like it. So, if anyone ever offers you one, take it!

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