When I walked into the doctors suffering from headaches, I never thought I would be walking out with surgery scheduled to remove terminal cancer from my brain the very next day. But, I guess no one thinks it will happen to them. I am an RN, and I still never thought it would happen to me.
I have been a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt since 2003 and I own Street Sports Simi Valley, so saying that #BJJ is my life is an understatement. I knew when it literally came to life and death I would use the sport (along with my wife and children) as my motivation to stay active and do my best to heal.
I had brain surgery about three months ago, just 24 hours after I was diagnosed.
They removed the cancer from my brain, but I still need treatments for at least a year — chemotherapy and radiation. I get five treatments every month, and the side effects are atrocious. But, if you think that will keep me off the mats, you are dead wrong.
Three weeks after my brain surgery, and with staples still in my head, I returned to the mats.
I puke, and then I get right to class. I have to be an example for my students, and you bet that not a single one of them is ever given any exceptions. When they start to complain I ask them who has had brain surgery in the last few months — they are usually pretty quiet after that.
I am sponsored by Shoyoroll, and they have been above and beyond supportive through all this, so when they sent out an email to all the athletes about #IBJJF Pans, I knew I had to do it. I looked at the flyer, and I thought about what I would be doing if I wasn't sick. I knew I would be entering the competition, so why change my life just because I was faced with this challenge.
I just underwent a treatment this week, and am waiting for the side effects to go away so that I when I step on the mats Saturday (March 18) I will be in the best possible shape. I will be competing against some of the top black belts in the world, and I'm excited to see how I will do.
I will be facing Jay Zeballos from Jean Jacques Machado BJJ in the Masters 4 middleweight division. Jay is a friend and I have utmost respect for him. I know it will be a good match no matter the outcome.
I hope that when people see me compete, they will know that no excuse is good enough to give up on what you love to do. If you want something bad enough you can do it, you just have to believe.
You can watch me compete at IBJJF Pans this Saturday night at about 7:50 pm on FloGrappling.com.