Sunday, November 14, 2010

Living with a brain tumor

When language falls by the wayside, of what does the mind consist?

“This is about my dying: and how my life got here.” So begins Tom Lubbock’s poignant piece about what it has been like living with a brain tumor for the past two years.

In 2008 Lubbock, a British art critic and journalist, was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a malignant brain tumor. What made his condition all the more grave was that the growth developed in his left temporal lobe—the seat of language. Lubbock, who makes his living by the art of composing words on a page, was forced to face the fact that eventually he would lose his ability to write and speak.

Lubbock muses: “I won't recover, no. But I haven't been given a definite time limit. So the narrative seems unclear and my luck, in a way, is both bad and good....I recognise that I am being kept alive by my treatment. I can hope for a prolongation for a little. I believe in my life continuing, though not for very long. I don't feel physically in pain – the brain has no nerve feelings, of course – nor have I been very interested, in fact, in the science.

“At the same time, this life is unbelievable. At moments, it is terrible and outrageous. But in other ways, I accept what it brings, in its strangeness and newness. This mortality makes its own world.”

Tom Lubbock’s amazing essay can be accessed in its entirety here.