Ganglio…?

My name is Mauricio. I’m 34, Brazilian, currently finishing my MFA in Screenwriting in Los Angeles at AFI. Eighteen days ago I’ve undergone a surgery that removed a benign tumor from my brain. Since then it’s been the wildest ride of my life, which culminated in some amazing news four days ago: the tumor, labeled by my doctor, John Yu, a ganglioneurocytoma (some kind of neurocytoma) was completely removed, meaning there’s next to zero chance of recurrence (which is usually 20% with neurocytomas).

Here’s how that conversation went (I recorded so I could hear it again later since my attention span hasn’t gone back to normal yet):

INT. CEDARS SINAI – ROOM – DAY

DR. YU enters the room with his ASSISTANT. I’m sitting next to my wife, PAULA, 30. We’re not sure what to expect, since the night before I read a bunch of stuff about doing chemo following brain surgery .

DR. YU
We have great news. We were able to
remove everything. It was a Ganglioneurocytoma.

PAULA
Ganglio…?

DR. YU
Ganglioneurocytoma. It’s a grade one,
which is a benign tumor.

MAURICIO
Grade one? So it’s not a low-grade glioma.

[Which was the initial prognosis before the surgery]

DR. YU
It’s not a low-grade glioma, so it’s good.

MAURICIO
That’s great!

Paula opens her notebook, grabs a pen.

PAULA
What’s the name?

DR. YU
It’s called a grade one ganglioneurocytoma.
G-a-n-g-l-i-o-n-e-u-r-o-c-y-t-o-m-a.

MAURICIO
That’s great, great to know.

DR. YU
Very slow grade tumor. But it’s firm, so it was (?)

MAURICIO
So when do you think it originated?

[Before Dr. Yu I was seeing Dr. Rovner, who mentioned the mass found in my brain could be congenital. (Rovner retired, which led me to seek a new doctor) Also, I’ve had migraines for 15 years, a soccer trauma 5 years ago and some more intense headaches in the last 6 months, so I was curious about the inception of it]

DR. YU
When it origi­— who knows?

MAURICIO
Not congenital though?

DR. YU
Not congenital, a slow growing benign tumor.

PAULA
So, this kind of tumor, how does it usually work?

YU
It usually works if we remove it all
then it should be cured. And we think
we removed it all based on the MRI. It’s good.
Cured. One of the few times I can say that.

MAURICIO
That’s awesome.

DR. YU
It’s very awesome. You need to
go celebrate today.

MAURICIO
So no chemo, radio.

DR. YU
No chemo, radio, nothing.

MAURICIO
That’s amazing.

DR. YU
Yeah. It’s great.

So now I only have to get my next MRI in one year, just to make sure the tumor doesn’t come back, which would be shitty. But so far I feel like a million bucks.

This blog is supposed to serve a few different purposes. The main one is to help other people who are about to have brain surgery or have just had it.

This amazing post from Everywhereist has helped me a lot in the last weeks. It’s perfect, as one can attest from the 500+ praiseful comments.

The second purpose is to help me go back to writing, which I’ve been unable to do since the surgery. There were times when I was sure I’d never again be able to focus for more than five seconds at a time. Everyone kept telling me it was temporary and I shouldn’t rush it. And deep down I knew it, but time was going by in slow-motion and I had too much of it to overthink everything.

The final one is another selfish end: I need to relive my last months for self-therapy. I’ve always considered myself pretty well-centered psychologically, but being confronted with the uncertainty of a future took its toll on my sanity and ability to focus on long-term goals.

So I’ll be telling the story chronologically in the next days or weeks. Not rushing it. Hope it helps someone somehow.