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What Does #GBMDay Mean to Ambassador Molly Marco?

July 17, is GBM Awareness Day… which happens to fall on my MRI day. Kind of uncanny and #scanxiety engaging, for sure. Why am Iworried, you ask, since I only have an Anaplastic Astrocytoma? Here’s WHY: 1) GBM is a Grade 4 ASTROCYTOMA, 2) Anaplastic Astrocytoma is a Grade 3—and our rogue Astros like to reoccur, and they will reoccur in one of two ways: either as themselves, a Grade 3 again; or they will power up as a Grade 4 (GBM). It will not reoccur “nicer.” 

I imagine astrocytes are angrier after you put them through the gauntlet of surgery, radiation, and chemo the first time. The best I suppose we can really hope for is a chill, dormant, unwelcome roommate. Over the last 3 years, I’ve come around to thinking of my rogue Astro that way. Weirder still, I’ve almost embraced her as a fellow life adventurer (since I can’t get rid of her on meds or magical cures alone).

 I’m “lucky” that I can have that feeling as I feel quite normal and well despite an aggressive type of cancer in my deep left temporal lobe. There’s FLAIR. It has been stable over last few years, but with my MRI coming up tomorrow—I try to prepare for bad news. I try to prepare myself for reoccurrence or progression. I try, as best I can, to prepare myself for an even “worser” diagnosis. Another craniotomy, maybe. More radiation. More chemo. I want to be ready. It’s not negative thinking, it’s just how I process—even as I go through the days living as normally as possible (hitting the gym, daily social engagements, events, etc.).

My deficits are generally word and memory related. Nothing you can tell right away, unless you are a neuropsychologist. I’m quite fancy and verbose. I preemptively grieve for the potential decline. I also grieve for friends and family I’ve lost to brain cancer.

Written by Ambassador Molly Marco