Journal

Journal entry by Michael Bischoff

Short: The MRI of my back that I did yesterday didn't find any cancer there.
 

Longer: When I was in the MRI machine yesterday, my family had a picnic of Vietnamese food in the MRI waiting room. After my doctor/friend, Peter, finished his work day, he came to look for us at MRI. He found my family and asked my kids if they had any questions about my health. My son bravely asked, how likely it was that the MRI would find cancer in my back. Peter reassuringly responded, "very unlikely." I think we all slept better last night because of his reassurance We'd all been pretty worried.

When the MRI tech put in my IV, he asked the names and ages of my kids, who he saw with me in the waiting room, and asked if they'd like to see the MRI control room. He said he could make it look like they were setting up my MRI. My kids didn't have time to tour the MRI controls, but if anyone says that health care providers have to be cold and distant, point them to me. I have lots of stories to tell them. 

 

When I was in the loud MRI machine, I was telling myself that the most important thing wasn't whether or not there was cancer growing on my spine. It is more important to me to notice and follow where love and aliveness lead. Peter and the MRI tech both softened my fear with their love and aliveness. 

 

I was still scared, though, this morning, when Jenny and I went to my oncologist's office to find out the MRI results. When he came into the exam room, he quickly told us that the MRI was all good. Then we talked about possible next treatments, after I finish the three weeks of radiation and chemo that I started yesterday. 

 

We won't decide what to do next until the MRI I have after radiation ends, but talking through possibilities now helps me begin preparing for that decision, which I want to make in partnership with the doctors, not just passively receiving the plan. I tried to empathize with my oncologist about dealing with my high expectations for communication and processing. Multiple people in my life have that challenge. I also told my oncologist that i wanted to "respect his professional boundaries, and love him and be loved within those boundaries." He responded that I have the love, but that when we talk about treatment that he needs to be mathematical and strategic. Translating from oncologist language to  my language, I think that might've been a passionate, affectionate declaration.  I told him that his strategic brain is part of what I loved about him, and that math and love can work together. 

 

The radiation I did yesterday and today, and the chemo pill I took last night, have all gone smoothly. No noticeable side effects yet. 

 

My leg still hurts, and we don't know why, and I still have brain cancer, but the world feels much brighter and more spacious today than it did yesterday. 

Journal entry by Michael Bischoff

Living with aggressive brain cancer can be scary. It is today.

For the past week and a half, I've had a pain in my left leg, close to my hip. I went to the doctor about it last week, and we thought it was a pulled muscle. The pain hasn't diminished, so I went back to my primary care clinic today. After their exams today, they didn't think it was a pulled muscle. They talked with my oncologist, and scheduled a MRI for tomorrow of my back, to make sure there isn't cancer that has spread on my spine, that might be a cause of the pain. It is rare for this to happen with glioblastoma, but when it does happen, it tends to be in longer term survivors, like me. I'll find out the results of the MRI on Wednesday.

When I was first diagnosed, my doctor and friend, Peter, said to me "don't postpone joy." Today I have a new reason to take that advice.

Today was the first day since my last surgery five weeks ago that I rode my bike. I'm guessing that not all my doctors would approve of that choice, but it made me laugh with joy. And one of my theories about the pain in my leg is that those muscles missed biking and were eager to pedal.

Today I also found out some about genetic testing of the tumor sample from my last surgery. I don't know the details yet, but my oncologist said there are no clinical trials or new treatments that he'd recommend based on this genetic test. He did say there was one trial that might fit the results, but that it was an early phase trial in Maryland that was mostly testing the safety and dose of the treatment. He thought it was important to proceed quickly with the radiation that we have planned to start tomorrow. I believe that I could still do the trial after radiation, but I'd have to wait 12 weeks after radiation before I could start the trial.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) is another action-packed medical day. First thing in the morning, I start by telling stories to a group of nurses about the impact that the kindness of nurses has had in my healing. After that, I meet with a lovely woman from my oncology clinic who listens to what is most important to patients and helps bridge that to the medical treatment and other support.
Then I walk to another part of the hospital for my first radiation treatment. I next meet with someone to review plans for chemo, which will start with a pill at home that night. She'll remind me of things like how I can easily get sunburned while taking chemo, and ways to avoid germs.
I'll go home for a couple hours rest, before going back to the hospital for the MRI of my back at 5 pm. My kids are talking about coming with me to the MRI, which makes me happy.

Wednesday I'll meet with my oncologist to talk about treatment moving forward, and about the long letter I sent him last week with some of my recent feedback for him, and what it could look like to have a more trusting partnership together. He and I have both put a lot into our relationship in the past three years, and I think we're still uncomfortably and beneficially joined at the soul.

I'm attaching a photo of me surrounded by part of the healing plant forest that many of you helped me create in our house. Surrounded by this support, how could I go wrong?

I left our family's dinner tonight early to go cry in bed. After that, I read Rumi's "Guest House" poem to my son, to remind me how I'd like to relate to the fear, sadness, and joy in my day. As Rumi says, "Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight."

Journal entry by Michael Bischoff

On Monday of this week, I got a call saying that my first radiation and chemo treatment were scheduled for this Thursday (tomorrow). I am eager to get started, so the treatment can deal with any growing cancer, and so I can finish the treatment before some January plans I'm looking forward to. The plan is to do radiation every business day for 3 weeks. Each treatment takes about half hour. Many of those days, I will take a chemo pill at home in the evening. Fatigue, nausea, and declining blood counts are common during this time.

On Tuesday, I got another call saying that the radiation and chemo was delayed until at least next Tuesday, so we can see the results of genetic testing of my tumor before starting radiation, in case there's a clinical trial that fits the genetics of my tumor, which might be better to do next, instead of radiation.

On Monday, I heard that the radiologist said the MRI I had last week had some ambiguous areas that could be either normal adjustment after surgery, or new cancer growing. Tuesday, in contrast, my oncologist said his interpretation of the MRI was that it looked "very stable."

It is maybe a cliche to say that life with cancer can be a roller coaster, but it sure felt that way this week, through no one's fault. We're all riding a roller coaster while we build the track at the same time, without a proven blue print.

I've also been on a little diet roller coaster. I'm trying to minimize sugar and carbs, while flirting with a ketogenic diet, because some people think that helps slow the growth of brain cancer. At the same time, I'm trying to gain weight before I start chemo, when I might be nauseous. I've felt tension between those different diet directions, while researching the limited, conflicting evidence about diets and brain cancer.

In the midst of feeling disoriented in my medical treatment, I want to ask for your participation in another avenue of healing.

Recently, my dear friend Emily had a suggestion for a next step in my healing. Since sitting in the woods next to the river is an important healing practice for me, and because it it harder to do that in the winter, Emily suggested that I make one of the rooms in our house into a little forest of plants, a place I could absorb nature even when it is 20 below outside. I want to ask for your help with that. To be a part of this, you could:
Bring me a plant that you think would be a nice addition to the healing forest--preferably something fairly durable. You could email me (michael@clarityfacilitation.com) to ask about a time to drop it off.
Or suggest a kind of plant for the forest. Maybe you have a story about why that kind of plant is meaningful to you.
Or contribute a little money towards a plant, suggesting a particular one, if you want. Here's a link to make a contribution:
Once the plants are assembled, I want to identify each plant with a person or family that I feel connected with, as a way to focus on taking in both the human and more-than-human support. I put up a little bird feeder today outside the window of that room, to invite support from birds too.

We added some more open dates to our Meal Train site, for times we'd be happy to have someone bring a meal for our family, if you'd like to participate in our healing that way. 


Brain cancer often asks me to hold together several apparent opposites:
Follow the medical evidence of what works-- and also follow my own intuition about what my body and spirit need.
Surrender to the guidance of knowledgeable health professionals and wise healers -- and also act with confidence and power from my own agency.
Prepare to die--while working to live many more years.

I trust that It is in community with all of you, and in the community of plants and land around me that these tensions can become a coherent whole. Thank you for your help in weaving together meaning with me.
  • Getting fitted for my radiation mask, which will keep me in place during the radiation, with a shout-out to my close friend, Janne, on my t-shirt
    Getting fitted for my radiation mask, which will keep me in ...

Journal entry by Michael Bischoff

Yesterday, as we ran from appointment to appointment, across the state, my nervousness about being late for appointments combined with nervousness about treatment and cancer progression. Happily, we made it to all of our appointments on time, and Jenny and I both survived the day, still in love with each other. 

 

The short summary is that I'll start doing radiation in Minneapolis soon. Like usual, I have a longer story too.

 

One of our meetings was with the chair of the oncology department at the Mayo Clinic. He carefully reviewed all my medical records, and remembered meeting with me two years ago. When he came in the room, he said, "I want to offer a new way of looking at what's happened with you." I was eager to hear his new story. He suggested that when I had my first recurrence, in 2016, "maybe that wasn't actually cancer growing. Maybe that was a 'pseudo progression.'" I said, "but the pathology from that surgery found cancer." He said that, because I had done radiation and chemo shortly before that surgery, there wasn't enough time for the cancer cells to fully die by that time. The growth could've been scar tissue that was a reaction to the treatment, which could've been a sign the treatment was working, instead of cancer growing. If this was true, maybe the cancer was a less aggressive kind than we thought, and maybe my tumor responds better to chemo and radiation than we thought. He said if that first recurrence wasn't really a recurrence, that would help explain why I've done so unexpectedly well in the past two years. One thing this doctor recommended was proton beam radiation, using a super high-tech, multi-million dollar proton accelerator at Mayo. 

 

In my day of appointments, I was hoping for a new treatment option. Now I had one, and it had the look and feel of a silver bullet. 

 

Coming to Mayo and finding out about this option reminded me of my father's experience at Mayo seventy-six years ago. 

 

At my dad's fourth birthday party, his parents noticed some strange symptoms he was having, including that he was frequently falling and had trouble with his balance. His parents drove him more than hour through the mountains of Kentucky to a doctor in town. After the exam, the doctor said, "I think there is a good chance that your son has a brain tumor. Instead of going home, I suggest you take a train straight to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota." After my dad was examined at Mayo, they confirmed that he had a mass close to his brain. They treated it with radium. A few months later, his parents received a letter from Mayo  saying that, after my dad's treatment, they learned that the treatment he received didn't work for the condition he had. My dad, however, must not have gotten that letter, because he lived for seventy-two years after that treatment, got married, had three children, and worked many good years. 

 

Jenny and I spent a long time in the Mayo exam room, partly waiting for people to schedule an appointment for us with a radiation oncologist who does proton beam radiation. When we finally came out of the exam room, a friend of ours that we haven't seen in many years was sitting in the lobby, just outside of our exam room. He'd been waiting there for more than an hour, hoping we might come out that door. Thank you, Francis! 

 

Adding to the magic, shortly after we arrived home, our dear friend and doctor, Peter, was sitting on our couch, ready to process the overwhelming day of appointments with us. 

 

I know I can be prone to magical thinking, believing something is true just because I wish it to be so. But when people like Peter and Francis show up, it feels magical to me. I don't want to delude myself, but I want to see the magic and miracles around me with awe. As the band Cloud Cult sings in the attached song, "if ever I can't see the magic around me, please take my hands off my eyes." Thinking of the big, powerful proton accelerator and the history of my dad's unexpectedly successful treatment at Mayo, I started to feel a shine around that treatment option that drew me. 

 

Then today, Peter and I did more research into proton radiation, compared with standard radiation, for my condition, and the magical shine started to fade. The input we gathered seemed to point to the standard radiation being just as good, if not better, than the multi-million dollar silver bullet. With both disappointment and relief, I canceled my next Mayo appointment, and told the Minneapolis radiation folks that I wanted to move forward with radiation with them. It will probably be Mon-Fri, every day, for three weeks. We don't have a start date yet, but I would guess in the next week or two. 

 

Today Peter also helped gather some of the research available about treatment options for glioblastoma recurrence. The survival data was consistently bleak--with some of the average survivals were between 3 to 9 months after recurrence, and some a little more or less. As my dad's treatment showed, treatment doesn't always have to be medically effective to work. I'll keep looking for the magic, while also trying to sift out the delusions. 

 

The round of appointments yesterday also provided lots of info about treatment options after radiation, including conflicting opinions about which kind of chemo would be best. For now, I'm focused on the next step of deciding on and moving forward with the radiation, and looking for magic and stories. 

The Mayo Clinic is also going to do genetic testing on tumor samples from each of my surgeries, so I hope that helps us see new stories and options. 

Journal entry by Michael Bischoff

A few days ago, I got seventeen stitches taken out of my head, while holding Jenny’s hand and making several small yelps. So far, my brain and spinal fluid seem to be staying in my head, even without the stitches.




Tomorrow, Jenny and I have an action-packed medical appointment day. We start the day with a 7:30 am appointment with a radiation oncologist at Abbott Northwestern, who will describe the radiation frequency and strength he recommends. Then we’ll go across town to get a second opinion on the overall treatment plan with a neuro-oncologist at the University of Minnesota. I haven’t met her before, but I’ve heard her speak, and I've heard other patients speak highly of her. Then we’ll drive an hour and a half to get another second opinion at the Mayo Clinic. While the back to back to back appointments feels daunting, I’m very grateful for the additional, knowledgeable input. I don’t yet feel trust or clarity about the next steps in treatment, but I hope to soon.




In addition to medical exam rooms, I’ve been visiting new internal rooms too. I’ve had a couple hours most days lately to walk and sit by the river, giving me time to notice  internal rooms.




Three years ago, shortly after I was first diagnosed, my son, who was thirteen at the time, made a video with me about some rooms inside of me. It is loosely based on Teresa of Avila’s ideas of an interior castle within each of us. I’m attaching that video, with a note that the range of  Isaiah’s video making capabilities has expanded greatly since he put these fun illustrations together.Here’s a link to some of his more recent videos.


I also know that the word “God” isn’t meaningful for some of you when you think about your internal world. You can substitute “love” or “source of life” when I say “God” in the video.




In the last weeks, I’ve been noticing some different internal rooms decorated by fear. Fear gets a bad rap, but I appreciate it more than I used to, as one doorway into openness. In my oncologist’s office, when he recently confirmed that the cancer is growing again in my brain, I felt waves of fear wash over me. As my hand got sweaty and tight around Jenny’s, the ground beneath me that I thought was solid started crumbling. At the same time, fear started breaking apart the walls and ceiling, and I could feel the warmth and heat of the sun as the earthquake was happening. I’ve had this experience other times--of fear breaking open barriers that let in more life.




When my oncologist said, “if the tumor grows a little and crosses into the other hemisphere of the brain, your functioning will quickly change. Your days of doing those interviews with doctors and patients will be over,”-- I entered a room that was a mix of fear and anger.


I find Teresa of Avila’s image of a sun and music at the center of the castle helpful. Every room offers a new way to hear and feel that warm music. Fear, anger, and discomfort seem to sometimes point to new rooms in the castle, and new ways for the beckoning center to be heard.




One of my hopes is that if tumor progression and loss of functioning make it harder for me to hear or recognize that music, that some of you will sing back the song of my soul to me. And if you watch the attached video, you’ll know that my soul’s music sometimes sounds like Abba.




Tomorrow, As I hear lots of medical info, I’ll also be listening for the soul music that can weave the information and treatments together into a healing whole. I imagine the appointments will also take me to some new and interesting internal rooms.

Journal entry by Michael Bischoff

Sometimes sadness hits me at unexpected times, as it did this afternoon after I met with my neuro-oncologist, even though I didn't find any new or surprising information. We were talking about  my next stage of treatment. I've talked with several people in the last two weeks looking for a clinical trial that I qualify, for and that is promising. I feel discouraged that I haven't found that yet. I am still exchanging voice mails with a couple other clinics, but the tentative plan is: 
Next Monday, I'll meet with the radiation oncologist. 
Within a couple weeks, I'll start radiation, focused on the area around the section taken out in my most recent surgery. I'll find out next week how long the radiation would last. During the radiation, I might also do a chemo pill. 
After the radiation, the current plan is that I'll do an old school chemo, carboplatin. I would do this at the hospital every 4 weeks. I'd be in the hospital for 2 nights and 3 days each time. The chemo is injected through a catheter into an artery, up towards the brain. This chemo tends to lead to damage to bone marrow, and also some to the brain. I would do it for at least 6 months, but maybe up to 12 months, depending on how it is working the side effects. 

Six weeks after my surgery, I would maybe also start doing Avastin, a vessel growth inhibitor. 

After the Avastin, I'm hoping to start using the Optune cap I wore a couple years ago, the one I keep my head shaved for, and creates electric fields to stop the growth of the cancer. 

Dr. Trusheim said there's about a"60% chance that this chemo/radiation would help me stay alive for at least one year. It isn't a cure, but might keep the cancer stable for a long time. He said the clinical trials I was looking at had about a 10% chance of working. 


It has been clear since my diagnosis that medical treatment doesn't hold a lot of promise for my health. Two years ago, when my medical treatment ended then, I decided to spend at least a half hour each day sitting at the Mississippi River, taking in the natural force of healing at the river. I've done that almost every day since then, and I plan to continue. I also want to commit to an additional practice to take me deeper into this next stage of healing. 
 
 
 
Last week, I wrote a blog post recently  for an organization  I'm working with, about what I've learned from some new friends about opening up to the healing I'm being offered, not just the cure I'm grasping for. I invite your listening with me for this next practice to support healing. The general direction I feel called in this practice is something involving increased intimacy with the river, the sacred, and those I love.
 

What does healing look like for me if I have a few months to live? 
What does healing look like if I have decades left to live? 

What is your next stage of healing? 

I think one simple change in  the next stage of my healing will be eating a lot less carbs and sugar. There's some evidence to show this helps slow the growth of the cancer. Saying "no" to the pecan pie at dinner was painful, but the good lentil soup eased the pain (thank you, Mary and Dennis!). 
 

One of my goals in life is that, when I die, people don't say "he battled brain cancer for X years."

I hope people point to a more creative and complex relationship with brain cancer--that maybe you would say that I was broken open by cancer, learned from it, and kept finding new layers of healing with it; found purpose in partnership with brain cancer, and wrestled blessings from it.

 

Even if brain cancer doesn't play a defining role in my death, I hope I take advantage of my years with it. There's no medical cure to reassure me, so I depend on my relationships with all of you, and the more-than-human world I meet at the river, to help me find meaning and healing in these years with my frienemy, brain cancer.

Journal entry by Michael Bischoff

When I went to bed on Monday, I had a slight fever, about 99.5. I pondered calling the surgeon's office to see if I should do anything about it,because low fevers had been a sign of building meningitis after a previous surgery. This was the first fever I'd noticed since my most recent surgery, and I also knew small spikes of fever were somewhat common after surgery. With some ambivalence, I decided to try to go to sleep.I woke up several times, and got up and anxiously checked my temperature each time. At about 1:00 am, my temperature was 100.3. I sat at the kitchen table with the phone in my hand, thinking of calling the on-call surgeon, but afraid they would tell me to go to the emergency room, and I wouldn't sleep that night. I eventually slept a few hours at home, and woke up without a fever.
On Tuesday, my angelic primary care doc and friend, Peter, spontaneously stopped by my house for a reassuring house call on his way home from work. Wednesday, I went to the surgeon's office for them to check out the healing of my surgery wound. "It looks beautiful," the nurse practitioner, who I deeply trust, said.
I haven't had a fever since that restless night, and both of these dear health care friends gave their blessing for me to leave for my dad's funeral in Missouri today, along with more information about what to be watching for, when to call in, and when to go straight to the ER.

In the past year, I've had a lot of encounters with my dad in dreams and in my prayers. I think of it as our souls meeting outside of normal consciousness, and sometimes I got a glimpse of that I could report back to my dad. Those visits have increased since he died.

One time last year, I woke up with an image of my dad's parents, along with his sister who had died, coming to see my Dad, with Jesus. They said to him, "you don't need to worry about going to hell. You've already been there when you've been alive, in the depths of depression you've lived in. You're on your way out of hell. You've learned things there which will be of service to others. And you don't need to wait until you die to visit heaven."
When I called my dad and told him this, he said, "I wasn't aware of that happening, but thank you for telling me." Of the many times I told him images from my prayers and dreams, this is the one that seemed to mean the most to him.

In times when I'm not able to express my soul in this waking reality, or if you sense me spiraling into panic about dangers like fevers, please meet me in that invisible land and show me some new landscapes you are exploring. When possible, I'd love to hear about it in the visible world too.

Journal entry by Michael Bischoff

Within a week after my last surgery, I was able to take long, slow walks, write lengthy philosophical declarations, and wash the dishes. My brain has had some interesting changes, though. After the surgery, I noticed that the shape of my wife’s face looked different. My daughter’s too. Then I began noticing that every female face I saw looked like a variation of one particular woman I met not too long before surgery. The area of my surgery is close to the part of the brain that does facial recognition. Maybe one of the last faces I learned to recognize is now a lens through which I see all female faces. Fortunately, I like this person I’m seeing everywhere!


One of the phrases from the Bible that has always captivated me is “be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Ongoing physical changes in my brain, from surgeries and tumors, have given this phrase new meaning to me. It freaks me out that it is harder to recognize my family, but I want to take advantage of the ways tumors and treatments are renewing my mind. As my mind and body deteriorate and lose functioning, I want to take that as an opportunity to practice identifying with the energy moving through me, not just identifying with the container of who I normally think I am. Imagining myself as a candle, I want to see myself as the flame, not just the shape of the wax. My hypothesis is that the more I focus on opening up to and serving that flame of life coming through me, that larger life will open up new horizons that come with the losses. I want to practice looking for the openings with relatively small losses, like diminished facial recognition, in hopes that prepares me somewhat for finding openings in the larger losses. Maybe if my brain’s abilities and perceptions keep changing, that will be a super power in itself, helping me identify and move with the flame, while still enjoying the specifics. I believe that when we are broken, we can become part of a greater whole. I also believe that in the transition from the limited image of who we think we are to the entire flame, there is a sunset not to be missed.


Since my father died last week, I’ve been appreciating  the renewing of his mind. He has been depressed for the past 35 years. I very much wish for his freedom. Since he died, I’ve been surrounded by an unusual amount of robins. It has felt like my father is traveling with them, almost with a giddiness of new flight. Once when I was with the robins, what seemed clearest was that my dad had lost his ability to feel joy, purpose, and connection for many years--and that he'd lost his ability to enjoy those things in his family. It seemed like what he wanted the most now was to enjoy those things in his family now--that the way we could honor him is to seek joy, purpose, and connection, and that my dad can enjoy those things through us now in ways he couldn't before.


I have an appointment this Wednesday at my surgeon’s office to check on the healing from the surgery, and next Monday with my oncologist to review options for the next treatments. The changes continue.


Sometimes when the robins aren’t around, like when I was nauseous in my hospital bed last week, it is much harder to look for openings in the losses--but my experience is that the flame of life is always burning, and always worth investigating to see what it is offering. Sometimes, that’s all I have. And it is enough.


I can still recognize voices easily, and I haven’t yet kissed the wrong woman--but if you say your name when I see you, that would be reassuring.

 

Journal entry by Janne Flisrand

On November 8th, I wrote a post inviting you to be part of supporting Michael's family in very practical ways. The response was overwhelming, filling up every calendar slot to deliver a meal and donating for things like housekeeping and meal delivery options. 

On behalf of Michael and Jenny, thank you! 

The sign-up went through the first half of December, when Michael and Jenny will have a better sense of how his surgery recovery is going and what they're expecting for future treatment. If there are opportunities for you to show your love in these practical ways then, I'll be back with a new invitation. 

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Journal entry by Michael Bischoff

This morning I woke up from a phone call from my mother, telling me that my father died in his sleep last night. 
 

I feel a complicated mix of relief, release, sadness, and confusion. 

 

While my father hadn't shown any recent signs that he might be dying soon, he's struggled with major health challenges for much of the last 35 years. He's lived with depression and anxiety, and many other health limitations. 

 

About five years ago, I asked him when he last remembered being happy. He said maybe when I was child, forty years before then. 

 

I last spoke with my dad a little more than a week ago to tell him about my upcoming brain surgery. I also told him about an image I woke up with that day: my dad, Jesus, and a third man were standing around me, and each of them were repeatedly breathing a prayer into me, "freedom to love and be loved." I asked my dad to hold that image in his mind each day as I prepared for brain surgery. 

 

When I found out that he died today, it felt like a part of his breathing freedom into me, and receiving freedom himself. I feel him with me, able to be supportive in new ways. 

I believe that his years of walking through darkness have value, even when I don't know what it is.

 

When he was a small child he raised many rabbits, for his family's meat. They became known as "the Bischoff chickens." 

 

As a small child, he also had a brain tumor. He defied expectations and lived for more than 70 years after that tumor. I will take that resilience and carry it forward. 

 

He had heart surgery as a teenager, and went through many other times people thought he would die. 

 

He told me that his happiest moment was when my mom agreed to marry him on a cold night in the mountains of Kentucky. His survival past childhood was a miracle, and his ability to enjoy marriage, have three kids, and work many good years was abundant grace. 

 

I will continue his love for family and service, giving thanks for love and grace beyond our expectations. 

 

As a young adult, my dad lived in New Mexico, and traveled all over the west with adventure. He couldn't travel in the past decades. My children and I will continue to explore new corners of the world and report back to you. 

 

When I was in elementary school, my father worked in the hospital across from our house as a bookkeeper. Some days I would try to meet him as he came home and get him to play catch with me before he went inside. I felt so lucky for his companionship. I will continue to welcome his companionship, trusting it can now go new places. 

 

Fifteen years ago, my sister and I took my dad on a trip back to Kentucky, where we grew up. He was a good sport for me taking videos of our trip, and asking him probing questions. In the attached clip, we're at the airport getting ready to leave, and I asked him for his advice about being a parent, and how he feels about me. Dad, I'm proud of you, too. 

Journal entry by Michael Bischoff

I found out yesterday that I have a brain tumor that probably needs surgery soon. Let the healing adventures begin! 

I've been having headaches for the past month, but both the neurologist and I were surprised when they found a tumor in an MRI this week. They did a second MRI yesterday, and I have a consultation appointment with a neurosurgeon on Monday. I'm guessing they'll plan a surgery within the next week or two. We don't know much about the tumor yet, including if it is cancerous or not. 

I have felt surrounded by loving support. I'm very grateful for that. I have felt scared, sad, and numb--but I have felt the love of friends and family more deeply than anything else so far. I welcome more of that!!

Physically, I'm mostly feeling great right now, with just a tiny amount of pain on the back of my head. 
An image that I'm holding is that this tumor has come with a message, asking me to slow down and pay attention in new ways. I'm also imagining that the tumor has served its purpose, and that, a couple days ago, it started to shrink. I haven't had any headaches in the past few days. I invite you to hold this image with me, of this tumor shrinking and melting in beams of love. 

As you may know, I'm quite into that spiritual stuff. I understand this journey as an invitation to become closer and closer in intimacy with God and the source of life--both for me and those I'm connected with. Sharing that path with me and letting me know of your journey is about the most supportive thing I can imagine. I also know many people I love aren't into the spiritual or religious stuff, and I look forward to welcoming love and support in many other ways too. 

I'm very grateful that you are with me on this adventure. Jenny and I will put updates on this page and also let you know ways to be supportive and connected.

Gratefully, Michael
Michael’s Story

Site created on September 25, 2015

I found out on Sept. 24, 2015 that I have a brain tumor. I had surgery the next week, and started radiation and chemo shortly after that. It is an aggressive kind of cancer called Glioblastoma, that requires ongoing treatment. We've created this site to keep friends and family updated. We set up another web page for people who would to give money to help pay the medical bills and also support our work and healing: https://www.gofundme.com/healing-for-michael-and-family (https://www.gofundme.com/healing-for-michael-and-family.   We) . We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement during this time when it matters most. Thank you!!

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