How I turned my kidney and brain cancer diagnoses into something meaningful

When I was diagnosed with kidney cancer at age 29, I thought I had a life-changing story to tell. I was enjoying a great career and my young, growing family in Austin, Texas. When my doctor called and said I had a very large mass, I didn’t even know what that meant. I traveled to MD Anderson in Houston, where Dr. Surena Matin removed a butternut squash-sized tumor from my kidney, leaving me with a big scar on my abdomen. Four months later, I got back to work. Little did I know, that was only the beginning of a wild and unexpected ride. My second cancer diagnosis: brain cancer Two years later, I was talking with some co-workers after a meeting. As we headed out, I turned to visit the coffee station. Just as I got my refill, my coffee cup dropped out of my hand, and I was completely frozen. I couldn’t move. Everyone was staring at me, confused. So was I. After a few moments, it passed, and I brushed it off. Two days later, a good friend, who happened to be a doctor, told me to come in for a brain MRI as a precaution. “Let’s rule out the worst,” he said. Unfortunately, it was what he feared: I had brain cancer. As we later learned, it was grade III oligodendroglioma, a primary brain tumor completely unrelated to my previous kidney cancer.   Brain cancer is a long battle I went back to MD Anderson, where neurosurgeon Dr. Sujit Prabhu worked his magic. I remember the awake craniotomy surgery like it was yesterday. When I woke...