“It became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it”

‘It became necessary to destroy the town to save it’, a United States major said today. He was talking about the decision by allied commanders to bomb and shell the town regardless of civilian casualties, to rout the Vietcong.

(Wikipedia) A famous quote from the Vietnam War was a statement attributed to an unnamed U.S. officer by AP correspondent Peter Arnett in his writing about Bến Tre city on 7 February 1968.

OK. The gloves are off. I am about to willingly kick the crap out of my body in order to save it.  Healthy cells as well as the mutated ones will be sacrificed. I am home after my fifth brain surgery in which they inserted a shunt to drain the pressurized buildup of what the doctors called “sludge,” a not-to-be-enjoyed concoction of cerebral spinal fluid, dead cancer cells and active cells both cancerous and non. I can actually feel the tube which snakes its way from the back of my head into my abdomen. Wow.


Intravenous chemotherapy will be the next mountain to climb as they are recommending a combined therapy of carboplatin and bevacizumab, widely known as Avastin, a drug which slows the growth of new blood vessels the monster cancer cells need to feed themselves. Microcellular vampires!

A quick glance at the side effects of carboplatin, a part of the family of alkylating agents first discovered to have cytotoxic effects after the use of mustard gas in WWI, appears to be no picnic. I continue to try to push the evilness of this disease over the cliff and look to the good. A news junkie, I am finding it more difficult than in the past to absorb the daily tragedies of murder and mayhem and instead seek sources of inspiration and hope. Not that I am about to wallpaper my home with images of unicorns and rainbows, or puppies and kittens (yet), but such a shift in focus certainly lowers my stress level

I have taken to decreasing the din of the day. Buzzers, ringtones, text and calender alerts have been muted or turned way down.  I am, for the first time I can recall, taking the time to just sit. Think.  Meditate.

Funny thing is, my neurosurgeon shared in a visit today that due to the nature and location of my tumor,  it will be important for friends and family to keep track of any overt or subtle changes in my demeanor as those with my disease in a similar location of the brain often become unaware of changes in their own personality or temperament. He shared that one patient had been found sitting on the couch in his home unaware that he had been doing so for ten hours. It should be thus painfully ironic because sitting for any length of time has never been a skill I mastered.

  • Hope and inspiration is not hard to find. Friendships, family, community, tales of courage, struggle. Art, music, nature.

    When I am really, deeply down and out, there are moments I pull from the past which to this day leave me with profound emotion and lift me up again. Moses Jaenson’s cover of R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly at his 8th grade grade graduation in 2008 at my children’s former elementary school, The Grammar School in Putney, Vermont,  is one of those moments etched forever in this manner. Thank you Moses.


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7 Responses to “It became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it”

  1. nikki esposito says:

    Hi, my name is Nikki. I think my mom may have emailed you about me before. I am 27 years old with two very young sons. I was diagnosed with a grade 3 anaplastic ependymoma back in may. I had the tumor removed in April 2013 after it hemorrhaged and blew up like a water balloon. I’m days away from starting radiation. Up until today I thought I was having cranial-spinal, or whatever you call it, but was pleasantly surprised to find out it will only be partial brain radiation. I can only imagine what you are feeling right now. I myself am terrified and honestly just annoyed as heck. Every dr has his own opinion and it took months to decide what the heck we were doing. Just want you to know I will be thinking about you and praying for you. Please feel free to contact me anytime. Its not everyday I hear about someone who is experiencing something like mine. I was never sick. I have always been healthy and athletic so to be told one day that I had one of the rarest adult brain tumors and I guess cancer came as an unbelievable shock that I struggle to accept every day. I hope you stay strong and feel better too. Nikki

  2. Wendy Whitman says:

    Mark, you will get through this, one day at a time, with the love and support of family and friends.

  3. Ben says:

    You are the man!! Stand strong old friend. I would suggest setting up a camera and recording those 10 hours. Unless you do, I’ll swear it never happened! No way. But then again we’re old men now so who knows, it just might. Let me know. I’ll sit with you.

  4. Ken Brautigam says:

    Powerful, beautiful writing, Mark. We’ll keep an eye on you.

  5. Jean E. Brown says:

    I think about you every day, Mark. This course of action sounds challenging at best. My thoughts will continually be with you, Hannah, Libby and Barb.

    Bill and I went to Burdick’s for dinner last weekend (we were in Alstead at a cabin in the woods), and we hoped to see Hannah, there, but she wasn’t working last Friday. Please give my love to all –


  6. Mark,
    Don’t think of side effects ahead of time, Temodar, the chemo drug I am taking, has the same warning labels and has had no such effects on me (all chemo drugs are derivations of mustard gas as it attacks cells that reproduce fast). The only recommendation I have (I gave this one to a fellow nauseating chemo patient and it solved his problem) is to have ondansetron hydrochloride with the chemo, once he had it his nausea was gone (his doctor did not know about it – many doctors can’t keep up with the progress of science). Regarding change of spirits I have found it hard to understand if the personality changes come from the physical change in the brain from surgery or from the experience we are going through. Personally I believe that no one can tell, all that matters is that life will never be the same once we face an experience like ours, all we can do is try to live life as best as we can for what we have left of it, just like everyone should. Best luck with your treatment, God bless you!

  7. Peter says:

    Mark be strong and know that I (we) have been thinking of you and hoping, praying that you recover soon. Lots of love from all of us Roos’s.

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