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Thread: I have brain cancer

  1. #1
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    Default I have brain cancer

    First: I have brain cancer. Iím not looking for sympathy or suggestions on new ways to combat the problem. I have a plan and am implementing it every day. Iím very lucky to have pretty good insurance and a great support structure, and good health (apart from that).

    Second: Iím not very happy about making this thread. After virtually knowing all of you for so many years, I know how sensitive you can be. My wife has been pressuring me to do this for a while Ė she thinks you-all have been exposed to all the same toxic crap that I have been for the past 50 years, and may have similar issues.

    Background: My dad had us kids building houses from an early age, and I worked in construction, welding, painting, and installing from my early 20ís to age 40. I always tried to protect myself from harm, but you know I was exposed to a myriad of poisons in that time. Since age 40, Iíve worked in an office, but have built a number of boats and campers and all kinds of household things. Iíve worked with a lot of 2-part paint, epoxies, and have melted big chunks of lead a number of times.

    Now: I have a rare, inoperable, fairly aggressive brain cancer (anaplastic astrocytoma). I found out two months ago when I had a major seizure and woke up in the hospital. An MRI scan showed the tumors clearly. Iíve just started radiation and chemotherapy, and all the other crap that goes along with those treatments. My prognosis isnít great Ė I have about a 50% chance of being dead within about three years. Iím working hard to be in the happy side of that 50%, as much for my wife as for myself.

    Question: You guys are as close to a cohort as I know Ė age, worked in toxic environments, not too careful with your health, some drinking and smoking and staying up late probably involved. So Ė do any of you have any brain issues, or do you know of any in your construction/boatbuilding buddies? My wifeís theory is that youíd be more likely than other people to have this kind of problem.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Tom, so sorry. You're in our prayers!

    Regards,
    John.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Tom, it's so distressing to read this. Peace and healing.
    One of the most enduring qualities of an old wooden boat is the smell it imparts to your clothing.

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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Geebuz Tom! Good thoughts from the Tweed!

    I sometimes get spooneristic with my spelling, sometimes on the same words time and again. Other than that, tacks are blunter than my brain.
    Jarndyce and Jarndyce

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  5. #5
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Heck Tom, I am vey sorry to hear your news.

    I worked a lot with molten lead in the printing industry but as far as I can tell nothing so far at 72. But you'd better ask my wife.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Not all brain issues, but cancer issues yes. I have been working on wooden boats and shipyards since I was 15. Most of my freinds are from the same background. I have been in my current shipyard now for 23 years. In the last 5 years I have lost 7 freinds/co workers under the age of 50 from cancer, two of those were brain cancer. Three were painters, two were welders, one was a carpenter, the other managment and exposed to all trades. All were married and had young kids. I am 50 in October, and yes it does kinda pray on me.
    Good luck.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Sorry Tom, it all seems to be a lottery .

    Similar exposure for me but no issues .... yet .

    Good luck mate !
    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
    Grateful Dead

  8. #8
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Quote Originally Posted by tomlarkin View Post
    First: I have brain cancer. I’m not looking for sympathy or suggestions on new ways to combat the problem. I have a plan and am implementing it every day. I’m very lucky to have pretty good insurance and a great support structure, and good health (apart from that).

    Second: I’m not very happy about making this thread. After virtually knowing all of you for so many years, I know how sensitive you can be. My wife has been pressuring me to do this for a while – she thinks you-all have been exposed to all the same toxic crap that I have been for the past 50 years, and may have similar issues.

    Background: My dad had us kids building houses from an early age, and I worked in construction, welding, painting, and installing from my early 20’s to age 40. I always tried to protect myself from harm, but you know I was exposed to a myriad of poisons in that time. Since age 40, I’ve worked in an office, but have built a number of boats and campers and all kinds of household things. I’ve worked with a lot of 2-part paint, epoxies, and have melted big chunks of lead a number of times.

    Now: I have a rare, inoperable, fairly aggressive brain cancer (anaplastic astrocytoma). I found out two months ago when I had a major seizure and woke up in the hospital. An MRI scan showed the tumors clearly. I’ve just started radiation and chemotherapy, and all the other crap that goes along with those treatments. My prognosis isn’t great – I have about a 50% chance of being dead within about three years. I’m working hard to be in the happy side of that 50%, as much for my wife as for myself.
    I am very sorry to hear this. May your treatment be a resounding success.

    Quote Originally Posted by tomlarkin View Post
    Question
    Quote Originally Posted by tomlarkin View Post
    : You guys are as close to a cohort as I know – age, worked in toxic environments, not too careful with your health, some drinking and smoking and staying up late probably involved. So – do any of you have any brain issues, or do you know of any in your construction/boatbuilding buddies? My wife’s theory is that you’d be more likely than other people to have this kind of problem.

    Thanks for your thoughts.
    I'm not from a boatbuilding background, it's more transport and construction. Your wife may be right but it would need a study to really find out. One factor that may be important to boatbuilders is that a lot of their work is done in what would be termed "confined spaces". That could be a factor, you're not just getting the fumes, you're stuck in there with them.
    We don't know how lucky we are....

  9. #9
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Sorry to hear of your diagnosis. May you come out the other side in good condition.

    I worked all of my career in a steel ship yard, also working as a TU rep. That activity gave me an insight into industrial disease in shipbuilding.
    There are/were three significant risks, dermatitis is still the most prevalent. Vibration white finger was a big disabling condition, but less so as technology removes the causes. Mesothelioma is the killer, but as we no longer use asbestos it is a legacy condition that kills after a quarter century from exposure. I have not heard of any industrial disease related tumours of the brain.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  10. #10
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    All the very best mate. My lady is sailing a similar course presently, pancreatic, and so I know the trauma for not only yourself but also for those who love and care for you. Good luck with the awful bloody lottery that is cancer.
    Bald, ugly, not too bright but incredibly sexy in an unattractive sort of way....

  11. #11
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    All best wishes and hopes for your lady too Chris, it's not an easy path

  12. #12
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Tom, and everyone else with nasty ills, sorry! Hoping for the best. Is a life in boats to blame? Maybe, maybe it's just a nasty random world sometimes.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Sobering news Tom.

    No issues for me. No epoxy sensitivities. Never melted lead.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    Sobering news Tom.

    No issues for me. No epoxy sensitivities. Never melted lead.
    Lead tends to kill you before anything else has time to develop. Chronic lead poisoning suppresses your appetite and affects your thinking abilities. Tom, you come across as sharp as a knife.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

    The power of the web: Anyone can post anything on the web
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Hang in there, Tom. I know longtime member Ken Hutchins warned all of us to be careful around chemicals when he got sick. He especially warned of fumes in confined spaces.
    Respirators aren't very comfortable but sure are important.



    Steven

  16. #16
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Middle ages Man (Archie Wilson) attributed his cancer to unprotected welding while he was building is boat. He was a kitchen installer too.

    Hang in there Tom.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    I'm sorry to hear this, Tom, and Doorstop regarding your wife.

    I'm terrible about protecting myself from fumes and sanding dust.

    Norm Messinger told me before he passed to get serious about it.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    I'm so sorry to hear about your prognosis, Tom, it's nothing short of tragic..

    I've had my share of exposure to dust and fumes. I get regular scans and blood work as a follow up to prostate cancer treatment. Knock wood, nothing has shown up yet that could be attributable to workplace hazards. Then again, these things don't need to cause cancer to do lasting damage. I'm very aware of solvent fumes, paint and lacquer thinner are prime contenders, and the terrible effect they have on my mood. There's no way to know the effect they have on the nervous system, but it won't be good, I'll tell ya. I would recommend that anyone using solvents be very careful about keeping them out of the shop and vehicle, including solvent rags, brushes soaking in pots of thinner, any source of fumes at all, no matter how insignificant. Also, watch your mood as an indicator of exposure while you're painting and quit if you start to feel really down or angry, even if you're wearing a respirator.

    I'm hoping you beat the odds on this one, Tom. Best of Luck to you.

    Jim

  19. #19
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Sorry to hear about this. Hope the chemo and radiation work out for you.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Quote Originally Posted by tomlarkin View Post
    Question: You guys are as close to a cohort as I know – age, worked in toxic environments, not too careful with your health, some drinking and smoking and staying up late probably involved. So – do any of you have any brain issues, or do you know of any in your construction/boatbuilding buddies? My wife’s theory is that you’d be more likely than other people to have this kind of problem.
    First, let me express my best wishes for your recovery!

    Regarding your question: I don't know a lot of people who have developed cancer, and whose cancer might be attributed to environmental issues of their work or hobby.

    The problem, I think, is that statistics can lead to unfounded conclusions. Yes, statistically, things like exposure to lead, chemicals, and all sorts of toxins, are associated with cancer (as well as a host of other diseases)... but I suspect that too many people reach the unfounded conclusion that there is always correlation... there isn't.

    People who are smokers have died at an early age from cancer.... but other smokers have died in their 90's, in their sleep. In any particular case, it is impossible to know if the cause of the disease was the environmental exposure, or not. Another example: some professional athletes have died from a burst brain aneurysm as a consequence of multiple concussions... but my wife had a rather large brain aneurysm which, fortunately, was detected and repaired... and she was never an athlete, and had never had a concussion.

    So, I'm sure your wife is correct that people exposed to toxic environments are 'more likely' to develop these diseases.... but, certainly, in any particular case, it is impossible to know if the environment was at fault... or if the person was simply part of the statistical distribution of people who develop a disease without exposure to environmental hazards. There are people who have lived a totally benign life, without exposure, who unfortunately develop the very same diseases that are statistically associated with environmental hazards... and all we can say about them is that they were 'unlucky'.

    It's not much consolation, I admit.

    Regardless, a 50% chance is more than sufficient hope to sustain someone, and WE are all hoping that you end up on the right side of the coin!
    "Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it."
    --- Charles Pierce







  21. #21
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Damn, sorry to hear of your situation Tom. I have worked in the construction trades much of my life and the last 15 years of my career was making old house restoration a specialty. Great money but working in the dust, mold and unknown other substances while not always taking proper precautions caught up with me and now I have Asthma. I have also lost my sense of smell. I often fear I may eventually check out earlier than I would like.

    What ever the outcome Tom just live life to fullest while you are still here!

  22. #22
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Tom, I have no data to share, I've always had learning and attention quirks. I hope the radiation therapy doesn't screw with cognition too much. Good luck to you and those caring for you.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Tom,

    I'm sorry to hear your news - I've been enjoying your blog and hope you have the ability to make more entries and enjoy your time on the water. Best of luck with treatments.
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



  24. #24
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Thank you for making the post and alerting us to the situation.

    Hopefully we all can do something, every little helps, to help and prevent others getting into that situation.

    May your treatment be successful.

    Positive thoughts and prayers sent.
    Enjoy a good rum on the rocks at sunset.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Tough news, Tom. Sorry, and hope you do better than the statistical outlook. I have a couple of friends that have lived decades past being told they wouldn't make it past Christmas.

    I don't fit your profile, but I have always been into something or other and been pretty casual about dust masks and such, and now I have emphysema, twelve years after ending a thirty-five year addiction to tobacco. It's not that bad; I use an inhaler, I'm fine.

    That's how it goes for a lot of us; one day fine, getting things done, the next, wake up with MRIs and tumors. We've lived with the uncertainty about the timing of things for our whole lives, but now there are fewer chairs left and the music seems to have been going for a while now.

    I admire your attitude. If I am still attending when my moment arrives, I'm not sure I will post a thread.

    The thing that I'm concerned about is if the circumstances include a seamless segue into dementia, and that after some time I will realize what has happened, but then be physically helpless about it. I like the idea, as in the book and movie Still Alice, to leave a self-made directive as a dead-man's switch, so if you can't perform a certain easy thing, like remember your children, you get to find a message from yourself from before you got bad, that says what to do, like take a nap in the car with the motor running, for instance.

    I’m working hard to be in the happy side of that 50%, as much for my wife as for myself.
    That's it, right there.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Tom, great thread title, BTW. Reminds me of the joke about the cat being up on the roof.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    As with all of the comments, I'm sorry about this and agree with the toxic environment mentioned by some having a possible influence on your situation. I did not do many of the things you have done for a living, only dabbled with some of it.I've only suffered from a lot of mini strokes, no tumors, just kidney. Do have scans and blood work regularly though, nothing so far. Take care! Isn't this what ex pres. Carter has?

  28. #28
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    What a depressing thread, but I'm glad you shared it with us. I had a coworker die of brain cancer; 49. Don't believe there were any environmental issues.

    A lot of this, IMO, is a crap shoot. Some people, like my grandfather live very long lives and suffer no illness. Others are born with health problems.

    While smokers are much more likely to develop lung cancer, there are people who don't smoke end up with lung cancer.

    I often joke that the only way to avoid the various maladies of old age is to not live into them. Truth is we are all mortal. Doctors cannot prevent death, only postpone it.

    At best, sometimes, we can hope suffering is minimal.

    I wish you fair winds and calm sees for your coming journey.
    May be some rough water ahead. We're getting new captain.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Best wishes Tom and Chris, for your lady.
    "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome and charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime" Mark Twain... so... Carpe the living sh!t out of the Diem

    I'd rather look back at my life and say "I can't believe I did that" instead of being there saying "I wish I'd done that"

  30. #30
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    " worked in toxic environments, not too careful with your health, some drinking and smoking and staying up late probably involved." you nailed it for me! Besides being delusional( at sixty I think I can still make money in a Rock Band), I consider myself very lucky. I have been breathing in the fumes from cooking stoves now since I was 14. Cancer can be such a random act of nature, I have always supported LIVESTRONG. I do have a good friend who is a carpenter. He had brain cancer, he just made it though his 5 year window. He is wonderful to be around( loves his beer ). We were at a Highschool basket ball game a few years ago and I corrected him on something he said...he cleverly remarked," give me a break I just had brain cancer"... i loved that. Be free and let people enjoy your company. We all can learn from the path you make. Thank you for sharing, eat well, and have a drink on me. Greg Upshur, The Mustang Chef
    ps...f you happen to be in Michigan anytime soon , you have an open invitation to have dinner here in Stockbridge with our gang, we would love to have you. 517 851 8588

  31. #31
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Well CRAP!!

    As a cancer survivor - I hate, hate, hate to hear such news. Wishing you nothing but the best of outcomes!

    Mine was throat cancer. No - not from smoking. I have smoked a pipe a bit for many years, but the doc assures me that had nothing to do with it. And, though I've been a woodworker/boatbuilder since the 70's - it had nothing to do with exposure to dust, chemicals, etc. See... mine was HPV. Essentially: cancer as STD. A virus. As the doc so charmingly put it: kissed the wrong girl in the wrong place at the wrong time. Since gestation ranges from months to decades... no way to know.

    Mine was early enough, small enough, and non-aggressive enough... that it was 'relatively' easily shaken.

    It's that 'relatively' that I want to speak to. There is no EASY cancer treatment. And in talking to other survivors, there is a theme. They NEVER tell you how difficult treatment is gonna be. I didn't even have to do chemo... and I was ready to fold and crumple like a cheap umbrella in a gale. Radiation kicked my butt. And... at our age... we don't bounce back as quickly as we once did. Chemo stories I've heard make me think that it can be worse than radiation... or not. But nevertheless, it adds an additional, and different, level of discomfort/misery.

    The whole exercise is about trying to kill you without quite succeeding. The scheme is that the cancer cells die off just before you do.

    So - get your mind right. The docs want you upbeat as much as possible, so they don't warn you. And upbeat is good, important, and maybe critical. Having friends and family stay in close contact really helped for me. Don't be shy. Ask them now. Tell them what you will need - s much contact and as much love as possible. And know also that it's a longer, harder, slog than the medicos are likely letting on. Steel yourself for the journey. Don't let the down times surprise you (as they did me), and get you down. Get your affairs in order now - just in case. That'll be one less thing to prey upon your mind. Prepared is good. Peaceful is good. If you meditate... keep it up. If you don't, they might be something to consider starting. Yoga too. If you're too wiped out to do yoga, do chair yoga. If you're too wiped out for that... just rest my friend.

    We'll all be cheering for you. And... please DO keep up updated. Use this joint as your personal journal if you want. We, too, can be part of your support network.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  32. #32
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    The doctors kept telling me, eat better food and don't smoke.
    I didn't listen.
    What David said.
    I survived Kidney Cancer for 3 years now.
    Last edited by Domesticated_Mr. Know It All; 09-10-2015 at 09:30 AM.
    Keep calm, persistence beats resistance.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Allow me to join the chorus of well wishers
    Gerard>
    Everett, WA

    RESIST. FIGHT THE POWER.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Keep the faith, buddy. Modern medicine DOES amazing things.

    March 27, 2012 - "John, you have stage IV metastatic squamous cell neck cancer. We don't know the source, I suspect a tonsil, but it has spread to the lymph nodes in the left side of your neck. I'm not going to sugar coat this... you have a 50% chance of survival over the next 5 years."

    Lots of radiation, lots of chemo and multiple surgeries later, I've been cancer free for three years and feeling great.

    Like most here, I've worked with solvents, paints, epoxies and other toxins but I would like to take this moment to say, "F*** you very much Agent Orange."
    "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." - Alice

  35. #35
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    Default Re: I have brain cancer

    Thanks for the advice, Tom.
    Best wishes for you to beat this thing!

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