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Joseph bouncing back from brain tumor surgery

Big Dog 10 days after surgery (Photo courtesy of Wayne Joseph)

Special to Hawaii 24/7 by Wayne Joseph

There is a French proverb that goes, “Good fortune and bad are equally necessary to man, to fit him to meet the contingencies of this life.”

I’ve been a health advocate and runner/walker for most of my life. I have always believed in taking good care of my body to avoid problems associated with high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.

Until about two weeks ago, I was logging 55 miles per week on the roads of East Hawaii doing my daily jogs coupled with long walks.

My wife, Randee, a physical education teacher at Keaau Middle School, is the perfect mate for me as she too also logs many miles at home on her treadmill.

I’ve been able to avoid the trapping of high fat foods and for the most part limited my sweet intake.

During a recent MRI visit, following the one year anniversary of my only episode of having seizures, it was discovered that I had a brain tumor.

Having an eternal caring and insistent wife, because I can be quite stubborn, I took the first available opening to go to The Queens Medical Center and have brain surgery to remove the growth.

Now here is the tie in to why it is important to stay healthy and fit: What was to be a five hour surgery last only three and a half hours, record time they tell me for a man of 64.

What was to be five to seven days in the hospital ended up being just four days.

Big Dog two days after brain surgery (Photo courtesy of Wayne Joseph)

I was up and moving the day following surgery, taking baby steps at first around the hallways of the hospital.

The medical staff often remarked at how quickly I was recovering and the pain level was minimal and my attitude remained happy, cordial and at times even funny.

I credit all of these things to my overall health and fitness level that has served me well for many decades.

Exercise and diet are not the panacea for all that ails us, but both will contribute to a better attitude and a more resilient body.

Since being released from the hospital I am only walking about 30 miles per week as I need to take things slowly as there are still 14 staples on the right side of my head.

The brain seems to work fine as four days after surgery I voluntarily wrote a 1,000 word story on high school wrestling. Of course, the Running with the Big Dog columns will continue as long as people out there are reading them and I do appreciate the community who takes the time to read over my stories.

The tumor was malignant and I am still waiting for the recommendations of a hematologist/oncologist.

Life is filled with adversity and challenges will crop up when we least expect, but our attitude, spiritual beliefs and a healthy body will stand up to those challenges.

I’ve already been blessed, escaping death twice in my life.

When I was 9 years old I was fishing along a river bank with high walls when a flash flood roared through. Fortunately my older brother was with me, grabbed me and threw me up the side of the bank, saving my life.

Another episode happened when I was 17 when the cargo plane that I was in lost both its engines during a lightning storm. We were told to prepare for a crash landing as the plane nose dived, helplessly. My prayers were answered just seconds before plunging to the surface as one of the engines sputtered back on.

Death is not something that we have control over and is a process of the life experience.

We can only do as much as we can to keep the quality of life at a maximum by controlling what we eat and making sure that we have an ample supply of exercise to keep it moving.

My wife had to endure the burden of my experience as it was difficult for her to see me is such disrepair. I am blessed to have someone that loves me so much that she would hold my hand, every step of the way.

I was told at the hospital to find myself a friend – a rock – who I could lean on to relieve the stress that my wife was going through. This was great advice!

That “rock” is former mayor Harry Kim, who I speak to in my most terrifying moments.

Kim was another blessing as he went through a similar experience when his son Garrett was diagnosed with cancer.

I promised Harry that through this experience I would offer myself to be someone else’s ‘rock’ in their time of need.

If there is someone out there who feels alone, battling adversity, and needs someone just to talk with don’t hesitate to contact me.

You are not alone, there are many who are battling to fight this horrifying disease, called cancer.

Stay positive, enjoy each day, and if at all possible keep your body moving. Movement will make you feel better which will then lead to a feeling of well being. And above all, keep the faith.

Helen Keller said it best, “Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.”

And someday should you happen to see a happy man with an incredible wife remember to smile, say ‘woof’ and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

— Find out more:

(Wayne “Big Dog” Joseph is a sportswriter, avid runner and community activist. A retired school teacher, he is executive director of the Big Island International Marathon. He also is executive director of Big Dog Productions and Running with the Big Dog Club.)

One Response to “Joseph bouncing back from brain tumor surgery”

  1. Kurt Minges says:

    Wayne has touched the lives of so many people with the grace and eloquence he has used to describe his medical ordeal and the incredible human bonds that have carried him through this. I have had the pleasure of knowing and running with Wayne and his upbeat attitude is infectious. Thanks Wayne for putting it out there, stay strong!


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