Playing in the events recently at the PCA and at the Borgata, it has been evident to me that everyone could tell my illness had come back. Little did they know it has come back many times. But because the bowel obstruction has caused me to lose a lot of weight, it perhaps gave the appearance of me being more sick than I am.
Back when I was first diagnosed with liposarcoma, a very rare form of cancer, Vanessa and I released a statement giving details of what was going on. Since then, I didn't think every time a health issue came up that it was necessary for me to tweet or blog about it. But I know there are a lot of people who are genuinely concerned and I very much appreciate their well wishes, so I thought now's the time to let everyone know where things presently stand.
I'm writing this post from the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City where I'm presently recovering from surgery. This was actually the fifth surgery that I've had. Also during the course of the last four years I've had radiation a few times, different types of chemotherapy, and other forms of treatment.
Where it stands now is that surgery will no longer be an option for correcting this. There is still cancer in my body, and what we hope for is that I have enough time for there to be a new drug developed for me. Until that time, it's a fluid situation. What's next has not even been determined yet. It could be that I wind up on another chemo drug. What the chemo does is to shrink the tumor, which buys you time, but it's not a cure. But there are a couple of drugs out there that are coming out that have high promise, so that's what I hope for.
In the meantime, while I'm healthy enough, poker's still one of my biggest passions. I greatly enjoy competing, and while I'm there I'm there to win. In my last post I mentioned finishing runner-up in a preliminary event at the Borgata Winter Open last month. I managed to have success again in the Main Event there, too, finishing in 26th place. So although my body isn't as strong as it once was, the brain is still operating at a high poker level.
The way that I've been handling this and continue to handle this is to view the situation like a poker hand. There are only so many correct plays that you can make, and you can make the best play and still lose. If that winds up being the case, I'll be okay with it, because I'll know I did everything I could do to give myself the best shot.
As far as how I personally handle the ups and downs of the illness -- the "swings" you might say -- that really is like poker, too. People in the poker world who know me know how I accept it as part of the game when things aren't going well and I'm running bad. If you've read my posts here you've probably noticed me saying the same thing, how the most important thing is to play your best and not let being unlucky get you down.
We all have a choice when it comes to how we want to feel about what's going on in our lives. If you want to feel like a victim, that's your choice. I choose not to. I don't feel like a victim. I feel very blessed with the life that I've had, regardless of what happens. I've never been depressed about this at all.
It's a challenge, of course, not knowing if I'm going to be healthy for the next two weeks. Since it is a fluid situation, that makes it difficult to make advanced plans as far as tournaments go. But that being said, while I'm healthy and able to make next weekend's tournament or whatever, I'm ready to go and am excited about it, and I'm very happy to be there and to be living in the moment. That brings me great joy.
I'll be getting out in a couple of days and then I'll have a follow-up with my surgeon probably five days after that, and if all is clear I'll head out to L.A. to the Commerce for the tournament in early March. That's something I can't plan for, but it's on the agenda if I can make it.
Meanwhile, when I have some down time and am recovering from any kind of treatment and I'm in the U.S., I'm playing on PokerStars.net in the nosebleed section, playing 1 million/2 million blinds. The game plays like a real cash game, with players who are serious and playing to win. It's actually a very good place to get a little practice in and keep sharp when I can't make it out to the casino.
I've had tremendous support from family and friends who have been in the know from the get-go on every aspect of my illness. Anyone wondering if I'm going through a hard time, the answer is no. This is just part of life and I'm okay with everything. I accept it. And right now I'm just looking forward to the next hand.
Chad Brown is a member of Team PokerStars Pro