Saturday, December 12, 2015


I have a charmed life, I have said it before and I say it now.
Leading up to my diagnosis, the products of my life were brought by hard work, passion, good mentorship, a little bit of luck, and a lot of blessings
Then I got cancer, and the "charmed" part seemed to have ended.
Since diagnosis I have felt love like I have never felt, love so big I didn't even know it existed. Our community has come together to surround us with whatever we needed.
I have top notch medical care that has been very effective, in fact... I don't think I could ask for a better response from my body to the treatment.
And then there is my family.  
Regina is my rock and my cornerstone, she loves me with a depth that is a deep as the ocean, never a doubt that she has my back through thick and thin.  
My daughters love and inspire me giving me very strong reasons to live.
So ya....I have a charmed life.

Crisis Management and Disease Management
When you are first diagnosed with cancer, your world turns upside down in a manner 
that only somebody else who has heard those words themselves can understand.

I was in crisis for several reasons.

1.  Psychological Stress 
It overtakes your every waking thought, all of the unanswered questions put in front of you. Cancer takes away the control of your life in nearly all aspects.  You struggle to keep your chin up and you try to protect  those closest to you from the terror in your heart.  You try to keep a level of normalcy in your life to keep sane, but at the same time you are far from your "A" game, how could you possibly be anywhere near it? You begin to understand that pride is bullshit, and that humility rules all, and will be essential in order to get through this.  
When is the last time you really thought about your mortality? 
When is the last time you thought about your own funeral,  about your wife and kids forging through life without you?  
Those are daily occurrences for some of us, I try very hard to feed the "good dog" in my head, but some days are still rough.
You suck it up and ask for help, you let the emotions flow no matter how painful they can be, you fight with everything that is inside of you because there is no other option. 
This is life and death, there is a disease inside of my body and it is trying to kill me.
I cry often, but you probably don't see me, its a pretty small circle that witnesses that event.
The tears are mostly driven by seeing the effects of my disease on my family.
I try my hardest to appear strong, and that I have my shit together.
I attribute my ability to hold it together to my support systems, people who care about me, and the grace of god.

2.  Physical symptoms of cancer.
Part of the crisis is feeling poorly.  For me it was a partial airway obstruction from a tumor, and a persistent dry cough that made me miserable.  From the point of diagnosis it only got worse as the untreated tumors were growing fast.   I started chemotherapy June 25th and it was probably 2 weeks into treatment that I started to get relief from the cancer symptoms, the tumors were shrinking and the impingement on my heart and lungs was lessening.  I was still having heart palpitations and near fainting episodes deep into July, but by August it seems like most of the "cancer symptoms" had subsided.
Except for that blood clot they found in my lung on August 5th, that's a little bit of a problem, in fact.... a potentially lethal one at that.
I was promptly put on daily injections of blood thinner and instructed not to do anything that might make me no MMA fighting for me for awhile.
I will be on blood thinner for at least 6 months to break down the clot and keep any others from forming.

3.  Side effects of Chemotherapy.
The double edged sword of chemo is that it helps you with the cancer but it is a toxic poison that is being pumped into your body, and this has side effects.
Heavy fatigue and nausea led the list from the beginning but were pretty manageable with rest and medications.  Treatment is every 3 weeks so you get your ass kicked, then you start to feel closer to normal, then its time for your ass kicking again.
My hematocrit(red blood cell count)is normally 45%, slowly over the course of time, the chemo chips away at that. By mid September my crit was down to 24% and my oxygen carrying capacity was basically cut in half, even the lightest exertion left me gassed.
At this point my counts were too low to get chemo so I got a blood transfusion instead.
The transfusion and the new regime(only 1 type of chemo) left me feeling better.
My blood counts have continued to climb and crit has leveled out at 38% for now.

At this point I feel like the "Crisis" is under control, physically, I feel pretty darn good, psychologically, every day is still a challenge but I find my head in a pretty good spot most days.
I am trying to have mastery over the things in my control as I move forward towards......

Disease Management.
This is the matter of controlling the progression of the disease and keeping in check so that I don't end up back in crisis.  This consists of my line of treatment with SCCA, second opinions from western medicine, and all of the alternative modes that I have engaged.
These are primarily outlined in my Remission Mission
Honestly I could live under the current circumstances for a long while, I have found a way to manage treatment and side effects that allows me to be pretty functional, and able to many of the things that I like to do.
I continue to seek out help from my therapist to help the psychological side of the equation, which as I mentioned before is huge.

What else is up?

The City of Olympia has accepted my occupational illness claim and it has been approved by Labor & Industries.  This is a really big deal, essentially my cancer is considered an "on the job" injury and I will get all of the benefits that come along with such a ruling.
Thanks to our union leaders and the WSCFF for getting the presumptive legislation on the books to protect firefighters. 
Thank you to my attorney Ron Meyers and his staff for making "action" happen.
The support of the Olympia Fire Department Administration and the City of Olympia has also been crucial with this process.

I just returned from Denver Colorado.
I went there to see Dr. Ross Camidge at the University of Colorado who is a world renowned expert in the very rare ROS1 genetic mutation that my cancer has.
When it comes time to change anything about my treatment plan I want all of the information and knowledge that I can get so it DOESN'T feel like another crisis.
When or IF my current line of treatment stops being effective, the next phase will end up being the clinical trial immuno-therapy or targeted ROS1 treatment.
I want to make sure the plan is what is right for Jim Brown, this is my story....
Dr Camidge was very encouraged by the progression of my treatment and the reduction and stabilization of my disease process, they said they had to look at my scans pretty hard to find disease.  He gave me some great information to take back to to DR Eaton and SCCA.
I want to thank my brother Greg Keller for attending the appointment with me and being another set of ears, we both heard some really good things today.
Thank you to Boulder Firefighters Local #900 and Mike Rangel for helping me out with transportation from the airport on the trip.

CT Can next Tuesday and Clinic/Chemo Thursday.

Prayer Request:
Complete healing from Metastatic Adenocarcinoma
Continued mental peace for myself and my family.

Thanks for taking time to catch up.

Big Daddy
Back on the drill ground with my brothers and sisters....
My brother Tom Wright from Lacey Fire, fighting brain cancer, we are stronger together.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Hope Validated....

I will start this post out with this...
I am not in remission, I am not "cancer free"...
That said..... It was a damned good week to be Jim Brown.

Clinical Update:

On Wednesday I had my first CT scan since my Chemo regime changed.
At my last Chemo treatment my my oncologist was preparing me to accept a slow down in my progress.  The goal of the current regime of treatment is "maintenance" and that in his book "no growth" will be a win.  For a hard charger like myself it is hard to accept that type of news.

The days leading up to the scan were full of anxiety as we feared that there would be tumor growth and we would be put into a position to make a change in my treatment.
Any time I am getting news or results Regina accompanies me to my appointments.
I went through the CT scan routine and we prepared ourselves to meet wit Dr. Eaton.
Finally the time came, as he entered the room, he had a smile and a lighthearted nature that immediately put us at ease.  Upon his initial review he stated that my scan was "very good'.
Basically he said if you were looking at my scan, and didn't know my medical history, my lymph nodes (location of most of my tumors) looked normal in size and shape.
This does not mean that those nodes are cancer free, but it is a good sign.
He compared my scan from June 17th side by side with Oct 28th scan and the difference was remarkable.
Despite his prediction a few weeks ago, my tumors did in fact continue to shrink.
Dr Eaton was both pleased and surprised by this development, he then said that I "have one of the best responses to treatment he has ever seen"
There remains evidence of cancer in some of my bones, this manifests itself as sclerotic activity (evidence of healing and increased bone density) this is all labeled as "stable". 
Upon getting this news Regina and I embraced with joyful tears.
This was the first true joy that I have felt in quite some time.

This is Hope Validated

I am a Warrior.
I am a Thrivor.
I am the Exception.
I choose the Miracle.

I have much more to do in this life, and many more people to touch.
This adversity is teaching me a lot about myself, and about life.
I intend to share those lessons with others who may be put into a similar tough spot.
I am far from being done.

I truly believe that God is performing a miracle in my life, that the prayers are powerful, and my comprehensive care plan to defeat cancer and heal my body is very effective.
I still have a long ways to go. The current game plan is: continue Chemo every 3 weeks and we will switch to CT scans every 9 weeks instead of every 6 weeks.
I will stick to my Remission Mission and stay the course, with a couple of minor adjustments.

God tells us to be specific about our needs.
To those who are praying for myself and my family, here it is.
-COMPLETE healing from Metastatic Adenocarcinoma.
-PEACE in my mind so that my body can fully engage my immune system.
-Restful sleep for Regina and I (this has eluded us for quite some time).
-PEACE for my daughters and our family as we take this challenge on.

 Last Wednesday Bella's HS team was scheduled to play Olympia High School.
We rushed home from Seattle and made our way to the pitch.
I volunteer to do sideline medical for the games so I was on the sideline for introductions.
As each of the Olympia players were introduced, they ran across the field,  and came straight to me for a fist-bump.
Every player had "Hold Fast" written on their knuckles as a tribute to me.
Additionally, OHS were wearing special edition "Hold Fast for Jim Brown" jerseys.
One highlight of the game was that my daughter Bella scored and equalizing goal in the 1st half; a bullet from 25 yards.  To punctuate the night - After the hard fought match was over, the Oly players took off their Hold Fast Jerseys and gave their jerseys to the entire BHHS team.
Our whole family was stunned and humbled by this show of support.
Thank you so much Tessa Effland and OHS Varsity Girls' Soccer Team.
BHHS and OHS with Hold Fast Jerseys   
Several of Isabella's friends took it upon themselves to paint a mural in the Black Hills High School commons area dedicated to me.  A wolf is their Mascot; hence the handsome wolf in Fire Fighter bunker gear. This was a surprising and touching tribute. You can see the Oly Soccer Jersey worn by one of Bella's teammates Julia below.
                                    I continue to be blown away by community support.
BHHS Class of 2018 Mural
Other Life Events:
Bella's team Black Hills High School won the league championship and are now in the state playoffs.
I continue to work as much as my treatment schedule allows, and OFD continues to support me.
Community members have put together a meal delivery plan for our family which is amazing.

League Champions
Thank you for taking the time to keep up with me.
I truly do feel all of the good vibes and prayers.
I am thankful and I am blessed.
I will prevail, I will Hold Fast.


Monday, October 12, 2015

Catching Up..

Catching Up:
There have been some very cool things going on in my life over the course of the last few weeks.
I don’t have any new clinical information to report, as I am not due for another CT Scan till the 28th of October.  What I can say, is that doing only 1 type of Chemo drug is not as impactful with regards to side effects.  It feels like my hematocrit is holding stable and my fatigue levels are much better than they were before.  I am in the office currently 32-36 hours a week on non treatment weeks and 15-20 on the weeks when I have treatment.  I have another Chemo infusion(my 6th) this Wednesday, I just have to remember to give it the respect it deserves and throttle back my activities.

Hold Fast Beer 5K:
So my wonderful friend Hollie Myhr took it upon herself to tell my story to Cascade Lakes Brewing Company, they reworked one of their existing beer labels and came up with HOLD Fast IPA and then donated 12 cases of the beer to the cause.  Hollie then in pretty short order put together a 5k Run/Walk for me.  On September 26th about 100 people showed up at The Strong Center to support our family.
It was a very cool grassroots event, both of my youngest daughters did the run and Regina and Isabella helped staff the event.  I got to stand up at the top of the hill at Fitlife and hand out High-5’s to everybody as they got to the top.   After the run we had a party at The Office Grill where beer was auctioned off and the fastest runners were recognized.
Thank you once again to my community for surrounding us with love and support.
Brief speech before the run: HOLD FAST RUN
Hold Fast IPA
Lillian at the top of the hill

Phoebe handing out kisses instead of High-5's
Base to Space Stairclimb:
Remember that part where I was gonna pull the throttle back on crazy activities??
Well…….I thought it would be a good idea to participate in the first ever stair-climb to the top of the Space Needle, which was a fundraiser for The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Foundation.
And you know what?  It was a good idea.  I raised over $1,000 in the weeks preceding the event.
My friend Troy Churchwell was my partner for the day, he and I have been through many things together, and it was an honor that he volunteered to be my partner in crime.
The morning of the event I woke up and wondered what had I gotten myself into?
I was truly apprehensive about what I had set out to do, but then I thought about the big picture, the money I had raised, my defiance against my disease, and the potential inspiration I could provide to others by doing this, so I shut down the doubt and forged on.
It was a beautiful fall day in Seattle and as we lined up I reminded Troy that “we would get there when we get there,” “no problem” he said.
I’m not gonna lie, it was challenging and I really had to pace myself and take breaks, this was more than a gentle reminder that the current version of me, isn’t “me”…..
Eventually we arrived at the top faster than I thought we would, both of us were overcome with emotion and joyful tears were shed, this was a powerful bonding experiance and left me feeling empowered about my situation, I’m still Jim Brown Dammit!!!!!

Made it to the top!!!!

Breathtaking view
Survivor to Thrivor:
In one of my previous blogs I mentioned my new friend Justin McLean who is a cancer Survivor/Thrivor from Melbourne Australia, he has been encouraging me from halfway around the world in my battle.
Justin is trying to get people to shift their thinking with regards to survivorship and characterize what we are doing as Thriving and becoming Thrivors!!!!  Check it out here: THRIVOR
Justin had some business to do in the USA and he just happened to be in Seattle on the day of the stairclimb.  We shared a tearful hug upon meeting one another and bonded like we have been friends for years.   I intend on being friends with Justin for a long time, and he continues to inspire me.
Check out his letter to cancer here:  LETTER TO CANCER
Check out his Rapha produced video here:  NO PLAN B

A couple of THRIVORS!!!!!

The Fight:
I am not gonna lie or try to pull punches, I am keeping my chin up but this is an emotional roller coaster and it can be pretty difficult to manage.
I have some pretty rough days and the darkness tries to creep inside of my head.
I am sticking to my REMISSION MISSION and thinking like a warrior.
My daily mantra:
I am a Warrior.

I am a Thrivor.

I am the Exception.

I choose the miracle.
I tell myself these things every day to internalize and live by them.
There are some cancer patients that describe the disease as a gift because it caused them to look a life differently and helped them change priorities.
I will NEVER call cancer a gift, what I will say is that I have been extended an INVITATION to live and love fully, and to see things in new ways that were not apparent to me before.
When I come out of this thing on the other side I will be a CHANGED and BETTER man, and I intend to take the lessons I learn and pass them on to help others in the same spot as I have found myself.

In closing....I am a thankful and blessed man.
Regina, Bella, Phoebe, and Lillian are the lights of my life and bring me bountiful joy.
Please keep the prayers coming as I believe in their power.
Thank you for your love and support during this challenging time. 
When you see me, remind me that I am a Warrior.


Big Daddy

Saturday, September 19, 2015

I'm winning this war.....

This was a pretty big week for me.

I will start with the clinical information about "The War"

So I had a CT Scan on Tuesday and I got the results back on Wednesday.
50% overall reduction in cancerous tumor size!!!!!
Dr. Eaton was very pleased and surprised with this progress.
I reminded him that I am no ordinary fella, and I am am here to "Kick Ass and Take Names".

Pulmonary Embolism:
The blot clot in my lung has dissipated, it is gone.
Despite this finding I will continue to have to give myself a shot of Luvonox daily to prevent any further clots from happening in my body.  I still have to watch myself to avoid getting into any situation in which I might bleed because my blood wont clot right now, and a small thing could become life threatening.

Speaking of clotting... Platelets are the component of your blood that allows it to clot.
My platelets were low this week, too low for me to get chemotherapy.
Dr. Eaton pushed my chemotherapy back to next week to give me a chance to recover.

Red Blood Cells/Hematocrit:
As it turns out chemotherapy messes with lots of things.
Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body and chemotherapy causes havoc here.
The results of my blood work showed that my hematocrit level was down to 24%.
This is 21 points down from my normal 45% and is the magic number for a blood transfusion.
Thursday morning I went back up to SCCA and got a unit of blood... man do I feel better after that.

Genetic Mutation:
A really exciting piece of news is that the results came back from genetic testing of my tumors and it turns out I have the mutation: CD74-ROS1 fusion.
In the words of my oncologist "This is good news." Only 1-3% of adenocarcinoma patients have this mutation.
The best aspect of this news being that it is 'actionable' with a drug called Crizotinib. Approximately 70% of patients with this mutation have a prolonged positive response to Crizotinib. 
This will be another weapon in my back pocket for t
he fight.

Whats Next?
Per the protocol for the clinical trial that I am on, my treatment for the next phase will take me down to just 1 type of Chemotherapy (Pemetrexed).  I will stay this course for the next 6 weeks; then I will have another CT scan.  If things are continuing in a positive direction I will continue with the Pemetrexed until it is no longer effective. 
Once Pemetrexed is no longer working we will make the choice between the clinical immunotherapy drug MK-3475 or Crizotinib (mutation drug).
Here is a quick review of the immuno-therapy drug: MK-3475 Video

Mountain Bike Ride:
One big part of my week was a mountain bike ride on Monday with some friends down in the Portland area at Sandy Ridge.  After I had planned this ride several weeks ago, I realized I was probably in over my head with regards to my physical limitations and the effort required.
                          Nevertheless.....I'm a knucklehead so I went forward with the plan.
In the parking lot at the beginning of the ride I informed my homies that I was in doubt of my abilities and that if at any point I said I needed to turn around, there was to be no argument and that they were to continue without me.  I thought this was agreed upon . . . 20 minutes and 3/4 of a mile into the 3.5 mile climb, I knew it wasn't gonna work out for me.  Little did I know that my hematocrit level had dropped 24%.
I tried to stop. No dice from the crew so I tried to keep going again, this only lasted for another 5 minutes before I had to stop again.  We discussed the situation and the suggestion came up to tow me to the top with inner-tubes, I was very opposed to this idea but after a few minutes I cashed in all pride and ego and submitted to the plan.  Chris Distefano towed me with an inner tube and Jimmy Smith helped with the push, they got me to the top and I got to let loose on the downhill all the way back to the parking lot.  That is a lot of love those boys showed me, Sean Bolland and Nate Mendel rounded out the crew. 
MTB Crew 

Coupla Dirtbags
Rock Show:
I closed Monday night out with a Foo Fighters concert.
Straight up...... the best rock band in the world.
If you need a lesson in how to open a rock show, here it is: All My Life
Big highlight was seeing my friend Nate getting it done with a "Hold Fast" sticker on his bass.

Nate "Doing Work"

Acevedo Sighting
I am going to close this post with a short story about an interaction I had this week with a Rad Racing alumni. 
Tuesday evening, Rad alumni Sean Worsech,  reached out to me and we had a pleasant exchange. I hadn't seen him in awhile and we were catching up.  After a few messages I inquired about exactly what he was up to.  It was at this point that he bravely disclosed to me that he was a heroin addict and had struggled for years.  He told me that my battle had inspired him to get the help he needed and to get clean.  He said he made this decision right about the same time that I started chemotherapy, and that if I could do what I was doing... then he could get his shit together.  As of our communication on Tuesday he was 80 days clean.
I have to say that I was blown away by this news, but at the same time sooooo proud of him.
I am sharing this with you at this time because Sean has publicly disclosed this information on Facebook and I want to share a powerful example of one of several positive things coming out of this whole cancer experience and Sean's story goes straight to the top.
1.  You never know the private hell that people are going through, slow down and give folks the benefit of the doubt.
2.  God is powerful and there is no limit to his power and grace.

In closing I want to say thank you for all the support and prayers.
I will win this war, I am thankful, blessed, and fortunate.

Big Daddy
Rock Star Bella in the Newspaper this week

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Remission Mission....

Been three weeks since an update.
During that time I took an amazing trip to Canada with Regina.
We had the chance to go back to the place we met 27 years ago, Young Life's Malibu Club.
It was a week of rest, reading, meditation, prayer, and general healing for my body and soul.
I read 2 books while I was there, walked every day, and soaked up the beauty and majesty.

How am I feeling:
After 4 rounds and 12 weeks of treatment there seems to be a cumulative effect from the Chemotherapy.  My red cell count is low and I am fairly anemic, this brings my endurance down and gases me out any time I exert myself.  I am able to put time in at the office in smaller chunks than normal, and function with life's general duties.  Working out has been put on the wayside for a little while as I deal the the anemia, and the blood clot that has formed in my lungs.(injections twice a day)
I hope to get back in the mix here soon with regards to physical activity.

Radical Remission:
One of the books I read in Canada is called "Radical Remission".
The author identified over a thousand cases of "Radical Remission" which are cases where patients made miraculous recoveries after being given very dismal prognosis.
She wanted to know what were the key things that these people had in common that may have contributed to their Remission.
After all of the research it came down to 9 bullet points:
1.  Radically changing your diet.
2.  Taking control of your health.
3.  Following your intuition.
4.  Utilizing herbs and supplements.
5.  Releasing suppressed emotions.
6.  Increasing positive emotions.
7.  Embracing social support.
8.  Deepening your spiritual connection.
9.  Strong reasons for living.

Jim Brown's "Remission Mission Statement"
Based on the principals in "Radical Remission" here is my gameplan, it is dynamic and ever changing but for the time being here it is:

1.            Radically changing your diet.

                                Consult with Nutritionist based on principals in RR.

                                1.            Start each day with glass filtered water/100oz per day

                                2.            Eliminate sugar/dairy/refined foods.                                     

                                3.            Increase organic vegetable and fruit intake/juicing.

                                4.            Eat only clean meats/fish in small portions.

                                5.            No alcohol.

                                6.            96 hour fast built around chemo treatment.

                                7.            Investigate colonic treatments to cleanse liver.

                Start dietary plan after August 26th Chemo/Fast.


2.            Taking Control of your health.

                                1.            Continue traditional treatments with SCCA.

                                2.            Continue Chiropractic with Dr Rosser.

                                3.            Continue Massage with Rebecca Noble.

                                4.            Continue Acupuncture with Jim Stegenga.

                                5.            Continue Jin Shin Jyutsu with Leslie Demich.

                                6.            Continue therapy with Dr. Hurst.

                                7.            Continue supplements with Dr. Shannon.

                                8.            Start Reiki with Jaz Klinski.

                                9.            Vitamin D Booth. (Kelly Noonan)

                                 10.         Structured exercise program. (Cycling, Walking, Weights)

                                 11.         Daily meditation.

                                  12.        Daily yoga (30 min for fitness/flexibility)


3.            Follow Intuition.

                                1.            Persist with Oncoplex or other similar DNA testing.

                                2.            Research any other possibilities that "my gut" tells me to.

                                3.            Reschedule consult with Dr. Mulligan.

                                4.            Investigate secondary consult with:

                                                                OHSU/ Dana Farber/ MD Anderson/ Sloan Kettering

                                5.            Get the answer to stopping Carboplatin vs. continuing with it or coming                                                 back to it.


4.            Using Herbs and Supplements.

                                Consultation with Dr. Shannon @Wellness Center.

                                1.            Continued immuno-boosting.

                                2.            Blood markers.

                                3.            Assistance with anemia.

                                4.            Colonic treatments.


5.            Releasing Suppressed Emotions.

                                Working with Dr. Mark Hurst.

                                1.            Anger/Emotions over Dad's death.

                                2.            Lifelong  body dysmorphia.

                                3.            Insecurities.

                                4.            Perceived poor performance as husband.

                                5.            Perceived poor performance as father.

                                6.            Workplace stress.

                                7.            Fear of death.

                                8.            Mind clearance. (meditation)


6.            Increasing Positive Emotions.


                                1.       Identify physical things that feed my soul and bring me joy.

     2.            Identify activities with kids for joy (painted plate/movies/etc..)

                                3.            Commit to laughter with Regina and Kids.                            

                                4.            Go to firehouse once a week to watch comedy with guys.

                                5.            Find things to watch with Regina to laugh.

                                6.            One on one dates with girls.

7.            Embracing Social Support.

                                Identify and accepting the support put forth by my community.

                                1.            Family support.

                                2.            Work place support

                                3.            Personal support

                                4.            Fitness support-

                                5.            Engage Wendy's website to build specific support projects.

                                6.            Accept offers of financial assistance and ask for any further needed.

                                7.            Ask for what I need, no matter what it is.

8.            Deepening your spiritual connection.

                                1.            Daily time in the word.

                                2.            Daily prayer to also include family.

                                3.            Mentorship with respected men.

                                4.            Fellowship.

                                5.            Investigate church attendance.

9.            Having Strong Reasons For Living.

                                1.            Regina.

                                2.            Isabella/Phoebe/Lillian.

                                3.            Unfinished work on this earth both professional and personal.

                                4.            Grandkids.

                                5.            Avenging my father’s death.

 So there you have it, as always I am thankful and blessed. #holdfast