In August 2012, I was diagnosed with a two cm, grade two mixed cell type oligoastrocytoma, located in my left parietal lobe, very near the motor cortex. I had originally gone in to see my GP in January 2012, because for about 18 months I’d been experiencing “episodes” of motor control loss on my right side. These episodes lasted anywhere from one to three minutes, and were characterised by a loss of motor control, first in my right arm and hand, followed by a burning nervy sensation down my back and into my right buttock, and down my right leg, which would also become clumsy and dull. Once the episode passed, I would have no after effects.
I first experienced this in the spring of 2011, getting out of my car at a greenhouse where I’d gone to pick up some summer plants. I had never experienced any comparable sensation, and thought it was strange, but didn’t consider it further until it happened again about two months later. About a month after that, the third time it happened, I started journaling it, making note of what I was doing, what it felt like, etc. It was occurring about once a month when I finally went to my GP, knowing I’d need a referral to a neurologist, as even my limited expertise in biology and neuroscience was enough to tell me that the way the episode progressed, it was something central nervous system related. I feared something like MS, and for the six months it took to get an MRI, I actually joked about my “brain tumour”.
On August 14, 2012, my neurologist called me at work and told me that my MRI showed a glioma and that I should go to emergency at my local hospital, because the neurosurgeon he wanted to get me in to see was on call that day. About three weeks later I had a surgical biopsy, and a month later they confirmed the staging and grading of the tumour. I saw chemical and radiation oncologists, who both agreed with my neurosurgeon that a “watchful waiting” approach would be best, as long as the seizures I’d been experiencing could be controlled through medication. Surgical removal, chemotherapy and radiation therapy have were reserved in the arsenal for a time when there may be changes or advancement of the tumour.
In March 2013 I started a ketogenic diet, high in fat and low in carbohydrates, and cut out all refined sugar from my diet. In May 2015 my MRI showed progression of my tumour, and on September 9 I had an awake craniotomy to remove the tumour. After that, I had six weeks of combined radiation and chemotherapy treatments, followed by six months of chemo. Biopsy of the removed tissue confirmed that the tumour had indeed progressed from a grade two to three glioma. I maintained my ketogenic diet throughout treatment. Today, eighteen months after surgery, I am happy to say I am feeling terrific, with no lasting aftereffects of surgery or treatment. My MRI scans show no tumour remains. I will continue to have scans every six months to monitor for recurrence. I am still eating keto.