Surgery it is

Posted in Uncategorized by Sean Holton on May 27, 2010

"She says she's had her fill of expert opinions. She wants to go for it!"

Today I gave my docs the green light to schedule my second brain surgery for next Wednesday afternoon. Everyone — including the outside experts I consulted — agrees that this is the best move to make right now to keep me on track for long-term survival. GBM tumors are not to be trifled with. The plan is to go back into my head through the same portal that they created for the first surgery — as if it were the door to a cuckoo clock. I have authorized the neurosurgeon to remove a 2.3-inch section of my right temporal lobe surrounding the old tumor cavity and including the small area of new concern that showed up on my latest MRI, as well as a bit extra for a margin of safety. Then they’ll just close the cuckoo-clock door and wheel me off to the recovery room. The whole thing shouldn’t take more than a couple hours.     

I expect to have a hospital stay of 2-4 days, and have human-wave attacks of siblings rolling into town to take care of the house and the dogs and me until I get back on my feet. That shouldn’t be long at all, based on how I bounced back last July after surgery. And this time I won’t be getting wiped out by follow-up radiation. But depending on what the docs learn from the tissue specimen they remove, I will resume some form of a chemotherapy maintenance program sometime soon.      

This surgery will not affect my day-to-day functionality at all going forward, the surgeon says. One of my other docs described this as “some of the most useless real-estate in your brain.” (Thanks for the topical metaphor, Doc. But I’m hoping your medical opinion would have been the same even before the housing bubble burst.) If I were a left-hander, the story would be different. But as it is, the only aftereffects I might experience are some small changes in my short-term memory capacity (which will give me a good excuse for blowing off chores and showing up late for meetings) and some lessened ability to distinguish certain musical notes from one another (so I’m already throwing out my John Coltrane DVD library and replacing it with the Slim Whitman catalogue).      

I’ve also submitted the following list of additional side-effects that I’d like to have included with my brain-surgery package:      

  • The sudden inability to hear the sound of leaf-blowers, right-wing  TV pundits and other annoying noises.
  • Onset of total blackouts when the Orlando Magic fall 10 points or more behind in the fourth quarter of any playoff game.
  • A rare condition known as “Facebook Blindness,” which will render me unable to detect all status updates and discussion threads relating to Farmville or the final episode of “Lost.”
  • The mysterious capacity to enter and win this year’s Tour de France, the premier, 20-stage, 2,200-mile bicycle race which begins July 3rd and runs through July 25.

 So there it is. My docs are checking with my insurance company to see if those and other deluxe side-effects I’ll think of later can be included under my current coverage plan.       

Meanwhile, thanks for all your continued support on this blog. It’s been a huge part of getting me through this ordeal with my spirits high. I’ll check back in with another update as soon as there is news worth reporting and I am able to report it.      

PS: I’m accepting any and all additional suggestions for “deluxe side effects” that I can request, so if you have any good ideas please leave them in a comment. This game might even be more fun than playing Farmville.


62 Responses

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  1. Craig Crawford said, on May 27, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    You’re a rugged bastard, mister. You will survive this, and plenty more.

    • solarcrete said, on June 2, 2010 at 7:34 pm

      Lard, it’s me again; breaking in and saying that im glad about the good news so far…..I remember the first time I bumped into U…..remmber what U told me, “GRRRRRRR HA.! That’s what U have to do now……Grrrrrrr

  2. Kelly said, on May 27, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    June 2 is a quite a day. Just look at this list, some serious food for thought:

    0455 – A D Gaiseric & the Vandals sacked Rome
    0575 – Benedict I begins his reign as Catholic Pope
    1774 – England passed Quartering Act, mandating Colonists must board English troops in their homes
    1780 – Anti-Catholic demonstration attacks parliament in London
    1835 – PT Barnum & his circus begin 1st tour of US
    1851 – 1st US alcohol prohibition law enacted (Maine)
    1862 – Gen Robert E Lee takes command of Confederate armies of E VA & NC
    1863 – Harriet Tubman leads Union guerrillas into Maryland, freeing slaves
    1866 – Renegade Irish Fenians surrender to US forces
    1873 – Construction begins on Clay St (SF) for world’s 1st cable railroad
    1883 – 1st night baseball under lights, Ft Wayne Indiana
    1883 – Chicago’s “El” opens to traffic
    1886 – Grover Cleveland is 1st to wed during presidency (Frances Folsom)
    1896 – Guglielmo Marconi patents the radio
    1901 – Benjamin Adams arrested for playing golf on Sunday (NY)
    1903 – Pirates win a triple header from Dodgers
    1910 – Pygmies discovered in Dutch New Guinea
    1920 – Pulitzer prize awarded to Eugene O’Neill (Beyond the Horizon)
    1922 – Suffy McInnis (1st base) ends an errorless string of 1,700 chances
    1924 – Snyder Act: US citizenship granted to all American Indians
    1925 – NY Yankee Lou Gehrig begins his 2,130 consecutive game streak
    1928 – Velveeta Cheese created by Kraft
    1933 – FDR authorizes 1st swimming pool built inside the White House
    1935 – Babe Ruth, 40, announces his retirement as a player
    1936 – Gen Anastasio Somoza takes over as dictator of Nicaragua
    1942 – Red Sox star Ted Williams enlists as a Navy aviator
    1946 – Italian plebiscite chooses republic over monarchy (National Day)
    1949 – Transjordan renamed Jordan
    1950 – ST Louis Browns pitcher Harry Dorish swipes home vs Wash Senators
    1952 – Maurice Olley of General Motors begins designing the Corvette
    1953 – Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey
    1954 – John Costello (Cons) becomes premier of Ireland
    1956 – Yugoslav president Tito visits Moscow
    1957 – US TV interviews Khrushchev
    1958 – Alan Freed joins WABC (NYC) radio
    1958 – Brooks Robinson, hits into 1st of record 4 triple plays
    1958 – Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford fans 6 in a row to tie an AL record
    1959 – Allen Ginsberg writes his poem “Lysergic Acid,” SF
    1962 – 32nd French Mens Tennis: Rod Laver beats Roy Emerson (36 26 63 97 62)
    1964 – Rolling Stones 1st US concert tour debuts in Lynn, Mass
    1967 – Race riots in Roxbury section of Boston
    1968 – Canadians must get govt permission to export silver
    1975 – 1st time snow fell in London in June
    1975 – VP Rockefeller finds no pattern of illegal activities at CIA
    1977 – NJ allows casino gambling in Atlantic City
    1981 – Barbara Walters asks Katharine Hepburn what kind of tree she would be
    1983 – 1980 movie “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes,” released in Germany
    1985 – RJ Reynolds Company proposed a merger with Nabisco
    1986 – Regular TV coverage of US Senate sessions begins
    1987 – Mariners draft Ken Griffey Jr #1
    1989 – “Dead Poets Society” starring Robin Williams, premieres
    1989 – 10,000 Chinese soldiers are blocked by 100,000 citizens protecting students demonstrating for democracy in Tiananmen Square, Beijing
    1990 – Seattle’s Randy Johnson, no-hits Tigers, 2-0
    1991 – Three Andrettis finished 1-2-3 in the Miller 200 at Wisconsin
    1992 – Former NFL NY Giant Coach Bill Parcells undergoes open heart surgery
    1997 – Liberals beat Conservatives in France
    1997 – Timothy McVeigh found guilty of 1995 Okla City bombing, killing 168

    Obviously nothing has happened on June 2 in the past 13 years. 😉

    Personally, I think June 2 should be known as The Day Sean Holton Got Rid of That Nasty Thing in His Head Once & For All – and maybe Velveeta Day, too.

    You’re in my thoughts and prayers as always. Love, Kelly

  3. tonyb said, on May 27, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Best Wishes,I know you have many family and friends but if you need anything i live 55 minutes away…

  4. fish said, on May 27, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    i’m with Kelly! great list for you to add success to, Sean! and, really, hide farmville on facebook!! people playing it should be embarrassed!

  5. Jamie said, on May 27, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Tell them to include the ability to turn down all tea party invitations or they will be paid in chickens.

    Tap dancing and fulll operatic tenor are added value.

    Best wishes Lard

  6. April said, on May 27, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Go, Sean! I’ll be thinking of you and sending you positive cosmic whirlies until I hear the update.


  7. Colorado Bob said, on May 27, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    ” Some day you will tell me about these Stooges ” ?

    Blue corn goodness coming your way Lard .

  8. Bluedevil said, on May 27, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    Wow, Seanboy, this one says it all, Sean:

    1964 – Rolling Stones 1st US concert tour debuts in Lynn, Mass

    You couldn’t have picked a better anniversary day.


  9. claudine hellmuth said, on May 27, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    thank god for use-less brain real estate huh!

    Sean – we are wishing you all the best and and rooting for a smooth surgery and sending you prayers and thoughts of healing. We’ll be on pins and needles until we get word you have sailed through surgery. big giant HUGS!!! We love you!!

  10. Paul Lester said, on May 27, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    How about the ability to convince Stan Van Gundy to bench Vince Carter for the rest of the post season?

    As always, Claudine and I are sending thoughts and prayers from DC.

  11. Griff said, on May 27, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    I know you’re going to kick its ass, Sean. Colby and I are thinking of you…

  12. Elaine said, on May 27, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Surgical side effect suggestion: How about the ability to determine if it’s 5,000 barrels or 50,000 barrels a day flowing from the Gulf gusher? Think of the consulting fees! You’d be set for life!

    Well Sean, here’s to surgery that eliminates bad brain cells, while allowing gin and tonics to take care of the others.

    best best best thoughts coming your way.

  13. Vickie said, on May 27, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    My side effect recommendation: that you get to give cancer a #punchintheface!

    Heal soon! Best wishes!

  14. Laurie said, on May 27, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Sean — Mike and I will be pulling for you.

  15. Kelley said, on May 27, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    your courage and positive attitude are truly amazing and inspiring! God bless and God speed on a quick and full recovery.. also you may want to include in your list of side effects the amazing ability to no longer be able to hear screaming, whiney children, and folks who drone on and on about really nothing. Also the ability to black out while waiting in long lines, crowded waiting rooms, etc. until your turn that is..Best of luck Sean..sending you lots of love..

  16. Pookie said, on May 27, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Just don’t forget to keep us posted. God Bless!

  17. bethyboo said, on May 27, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Lard, Good to know that the recovery should be relatively smooth! As for luxury side effects, I would think that having a craving for all those horrible-tasting foods that are so good for you would be a great boon. You’re added to my prayer list immediately.

  18. Sandy Mathers said, on May 27, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Hi Sean,
    Good luck next week. I’ll be thinking of you and sending good thoughts.

  19. ann hellmuth said, on May 28, 2010 at 8:30 am

    You could lose half your brain and still have more going for you than most of us. Love you. Ann

  20. RebelliousRenee said, on May 28, 2010 at 9:34 am

    luxury side effects…. hmmmm….. how about a huge craving to get a Rottweiler…

    good lucky there buddy…. you must feel conflicted between the Celtics and Magic… or do you just say “Go, team, Go!” and no matter which team wins…. so don’t you…

  21. LeeFeed said, on May 28, 2010 at 9:46 am

    All I can do is swing a rosary, light my Sts. Jude and Anthony candles and close my eyes and click my heels together and pray for a continued blessed life for you.

  22. Maxtrue said, on May 28, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Hi Sean, looked for you on facebook but the three Seans I found were not you! Is there an email you have for correspondence? It would be nice to chat with you before your IQ lowers down to my level.

    Now if they could use that brain space for a microchip cell phone powered by bio-electrical fields. you could twitter all day without moving a muscle……

  23. Keith Kohn said, on May 28, 2010 at 11:26 pm


    You’ll get through this, doughnut hole in the head and all, and I am looking forward to seeing you and you asking “who the hell are you?”

    Since the real estate is useless, the docs aren’t really removing anything of value. Just consider it a rezoning of (legal definition) that portion of the brain several centimeters within the interior skull blah blah blah.

    Seriously, my thoughts and prayers are with you and I feel you make the rest of us cancer survivors and combatants proud that the fight continues.

    Kick this thing’s ass and be well.


  24. Michele said, on May 29, 2010 at 12:20 am

    re: the short tern memory challenge —- you’ll be able to relate to millions of menopausal women!

  25. Kris Hey said, on May 29, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Don and I will be thinking of you, Sean. I look forward to a lucid update when you are feeling up to it. Otherwise, make sure someone else let’s us know you are OK.

  26. Lisa said, on May 31, 2010 at 9:54 am

    As always, you’ll be in my prayers – successful surgery and a quick recovery. Here’s to useless brain real estate.

  27. mike Oliver said, on May 31, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Side Effect Submission:

    *Sudden insight into how to save newspaper industry.

    Well, that may be asking for too much.

    Thoughts and prayers with you from the west coast.

  28. patebooks said, on May 31, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    As we know, a little brain fog/short term memory loss can be rather restful, as well as a good excuse to have your every whim catered to by those care. Count me among them if need be. We’ll lunch at Nordstrom’s one of these days. Meanwhile, you’re missing a bunch of sucky summer movies.

    I’ve got the Edisto Methodists praying again. They have a fine record.

    I’d like a humidity control side effect if any left in stock.

    Take care. Go well. Thinking about you. Nancy

  29. Kathryn Quigley said, on May 31, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Thinking good thoughts for your noggin.
    Luxury side effect: All Justin Bieber songs – past, present and future – will be erased from your brain. Even if they come on Muzak, you will just hear peaceful silence.

  30. Liz Harrington said, on June 1, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Hi Sean! I learned about you from a stranger (Mary Bertolet) I met over the holiday weekend at a restaurant here in MAINE! I don’t know how Mary knows you or of you. When she learned about my dad’s GBM (etc) she told me about your blog and how much she enjoys checking in with you. I just read your post about your surgery next week. Good luck with it all! You have such a great sense of humor and outlook. I’ll be thinking of you from Maine! Cheers, Liz Harrington

  31. Scary Mary said, on June 1, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Will be thinking of you tomorrow Seanie. Wish we could donate your removed brain cells to the lab rats and watch them suddenly develop a sense of humor and the ability to just climb over the damn walls of the maze, for crying out loud.
    Hoping I can watch some of the Tour with you…Scary

  32. Keith Kohn said, on June 1, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Sean, you’ll do great tomorrow.

    You’ll have more gray matter after the procedure than most folks. It will just be fewer unused cells to not use.

    See you soon. We all are thinking about you.

  33. Whskyjack said, on June 1, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Lard, I’m a bit slow here but I have you in my thoughts. Lots of good vibes your way.


  34. Pat & Becky said, on June 1, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    You’re in our thoughts, sean.

    P & B

  35. Víctor said, on June 1, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    In other words, this surgery is like a strategic default… Lame, but I couldn’t come up with any Farmville jokes… I hope it all goes according to plan and that you have a quick recovery.

  36. Blonde Wino said, on June 2, 2010 at 5:42 am

    Good morning…can’t sleep and I thought of you first thing this morning…will be thinking of you all day and sending energy.

  37. Tania said, on June 2, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Thinking of you, Sean-o.
    A few recommended side effects to add to your list:
    – A sudden morph in your taste buds that makes rot-gut whiskey taste like Johnny Walker blue (or insert preferred spirit/brand here)
    – X-ray vision
    – A huge increase in your lung capacity that allows you to hold your breath long enough to swim down to that gushing oil geyser in the Gulf and cap it once and for all
    – The ability to levitate objects by simply looking at them
    – And of course you could always ask to be faster than a steaming locomotive and leap tall buildings in a single bound.

  38. Annie said, on June 2, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Sean, I don’t know you nor you me. One of my FB friends asked for prayers for you and I thought I’d better see why.

    If you could bottle your attitude, you’ll be a millionaire or more.

    Thank you for sharing your ordeal. Our thoughts are with you.

  39. Guido said, on June 2, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I’m with Ann…you could lose half your brain and be a better thinker, journalist and writer than most anyone I know.Thinking good thoughts for you today…wish I could send in Street Guido to kick that tumor’s ass.

  40. Craig Crawford said, on June 2, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Sean is goin under the knife right about now. So we’re firing up the kindred spirits and pumping out the good vibes.

  41. solarcrete said, on June 2, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Hey Lardo……putting all the best wishes for u, both in Spanish, and in my Spanglish……I agree with Craig.!

  42. Flatus Ohlfahrt said, on June 2, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Okay, Lard, we’re doing our part right now by sending you the best of all possible wishes. The rest is up to you and your docs and the rest of your marvelous support organization.

    Rest well and recover quickly!

  43. zUzU said, on June 2, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    … all beautiful::positive thoughts being sent your way.

  44. Janice Blase said, on June 2, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Thinking of you, Lard…though I make a concerted effort to leave you out of my thoughts while playing Farmville (just one of the many kindnesses I can offer ). I’ll be happier once we hear that you’re on the other side of surgery and kicking ass…you being at the top of the list of ‘my favorite people I’ve never met’.

  45. Craig Crawford said, on June 2, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Just got word on Sean’s brain surgery from his sister Kathleen on the scene. Docs are very upbeat for long term prognosis, say they got the bad stuff (altho awaiting lab results to see how bad) but also much of what they removed was harmless scar tissue, etc. Sounds like it could’a been much worse.

  46. Jamie said, on June 2, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    So far so good. Still keeping all toes and fingers crossed.

  47. Katherine Graham Cracker said, on June 2, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    I’ve crossed my fingers toes etc and am sending good thoughts to you.

    Have you thought the about a see-through section. Instead of just closing up the door -something see through. It might be an interesting custom look.

    When I was in college I lived near the dairy barns and one of the cows had a portal in her side and you could see the works.

    Just a thought.

  48. Lurker at the Threshhold said, on June 2, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Hiya Lardass !

    There’s a whole Trail full of people praying for your complete healing, cure, and swift recovery. Let’s make June 2 the start of great things.

  49. tonyb said, on June 2, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Hey Sean,
    Just thinking of you…Still would love to meet you someday,ride on over to New Smyrna when you feel up to it..

  50. patd said, on June 3, 2010 at 7:33 am

    lard, whew! good to hear things went well. now i can stop holding my breath.
    craig says they took away some scar tissue. hopefully those scars were some of the memories of those embarrassing moments in life we’ve all had and would like erased… wetting the bed, getting caught smoking/cussing/drinking/whatever at wrong time wrong place, unartful misplaced kiss, bad grade, whiffed ball, etc.
    now on to brighter days and better embarrassments.

  51. rebeany said, on June 3, 2010 at 9:30 am

    keeping you in my best thoughts.

  52. Rodger said, on June 3, 2010 at 3:50 pm


    If you are lucky, they took the liberal portion of that lobe. Hope you are back to your old contancorus self soon!


  53. Craig Crawford said, on June 3, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Latest word from our pal’s sister kathleen post brain surgery. Docs say he’s one of those rare cases of someone who can survive this stupid cancer a long long time. He is in slow recovery with severe headaches (no wonder after a chunk of brain removed) and haven’t talked to him, but prognosis looks good.

  54. Tim Holton said, on June 3, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Hey Little Bro,
    Right now you’re probably in Dreamland but have your room no. for a later call. am so glad the procedure went well. Am praying for a post-op report that tops all. Just know that losing that small bit of grey matter won’t affect you whatsoever (except in trying to discern notes of Pink Floyd or in making you even less right brained/winged in your thinking than before…a good thing). There’s no doubt you got this by the balls.Craig’s right, you’re one rugged SOB. I love you , you’re always in my heart.

  55. Laura Morland said, on June 5, 2010 at 2:58 am

    I’m one of those folks who was guided to your blog some months ago by Craig. (The first post of yours I read was ‘The Mask’ … a real work of art!)

    I continue to be impressed by your wit and your stamina. I’m so glad you won’t have to undergo radiation this time! I wish you luck getting rid of those headaches, and “bon courage”, as they say in France, with the chemo.

    God bless.

  56. Maxtrue said, on June 5, 2010 at 11:54 am

    The best of wishes Seam. You’ll be listening to “Fixing a hole where the rains gets in”….in no time.

    I can already hear those dormant brain cells no one seems to use during their lifetimes complaining to you they’ve been unfairly forced into the labor pool….Hell, it could start a cerebral revolution of full employment (the gray and white revolution?) and we’ll all have to send fresh roses to our new Algernon…..

    If you can laugh at that, you are okay buddy

    stay strong…..


  57. […] Read this post by Sean Holton, who wrote about having his second brain surgery on a recurring cancerous tumor. If Sean can get through this with humor, can’t we all improve our attitudes a little? Not just when we’re going through something scary and difficult, but maybe all the time? […]

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