brandonnn header image 2

I have cancer.

August 21st, 2013 · 63 Comments

Well, this is without a doubt the strangest post I’ve ever had to write, and I’m honestly not even sure how to start without just diving right in: after a long past few months riding a medical merry-go-round of tests & scans & biopsies, my doctors and I have more or less accidentally discovered that I have cancer.

Some three years of stomachaches that seemed too mild & too sporadic to look into further were followed by a steeper decline around the end of 2012, and then followed by the bottom dropping out entirely just weeks before I was due to fly to LA for HORIZON, with regular, severe, sometimes 12-15 hour attacks of the most excruciating pain I’ve ever experienced.

(I fasted for two days before we live-streamed the show in hopes of giving the impression of being a fully functional normal human being — I think it worked.)

That led to a hypothesis that what was ailing me was my gallbladder, and so it was a major relief when an ultrasound showed right off the bat that I definitely, totally had the hell out of some gallstones. Easy enough — a quick, laparoscopic snip, a few days recovery, and I’d be back in business.

But that’s when I fell onto the Möbius treadmill, and started hearing “we think we might see something else, though, and just want to send you in for one more scan, you know, just to be sure” as quickly as the results of the last scan seemed to turn up nothing.

After a maddening 6-8 weeks where we seemed to be barking up a thousand wrong trees and not making any progress fixing the one actual malady we were positive I actually had, biopsy results came back which proved that suspicions about that initial little ultrasonic blip — which otherwise could have so easily been ignored or overlooked — were not unfounded in pretty much exactly the worst possible way, and that we had more or less accidentally discovered that I have cancer.

And so here’s what’s going to happen: this week I’ll be headed in for surgery, where they’ll be removing a stretch of my intestines — where the cancer began — and doing another ultrasound scan directly on the surface of my liver itself — where the cancer has since spread — to get a clearer sense of how extensive the damage is there & remove or kill what tumors can be safely removed and/or killed. As a bonus, they’ll also be sneaking a fast hand in underneath my liver to finally, finally snip out my poor ailing gallbladder, just like while they’re in the neighborhood.

(apologies to Alëna Skarina for co-opting/corrupting her amazing image above)

This, obviously, will keep me altogether out of commission (read: wacked out on pain meds) through the end of August, around which point I’ll be released back home to spend the better part of September recovering — hopefully to the point where I can at very least hobble my way into this year’s Fantastic Arcade & be propped up in a cool, quiet corner to observe, if not take much active part in, the festivities, and to continue uninterrupted my work with the IGF.

This comes at pretty much the worst time for my work with Venus Patrol, though, as I’ll be in the thick of recovery when all first-year subscriptions will lapse. And while I do have plans for a (super amazing) lineup of second-year subscription giveaway games, as well as various other events & exciting expansions of both the site and the online shop (which is what I intend to spend my month laid-up tending to), I don’t feel like I can make any promises about how well I’ll be able to get those together in time, and at this point am presuming that I will not.

That’s a large part of the reason I felt like this post was important: not only to tell the friends & family that haven’t heard yet what’s happened & is about to happen to me, but also to have an easy place where any of you can point if you hear anyone wonder aloud why I appear to have almost entirely fallen off the map.

All that said, things could be much, much worse. My particular breed of cancer is not quite as virulent as many others — though it’s ultimately none less insidious, with its ability to easily spread itself basically anywhere else throughout my body it feels like taking roost — and to a certain degree I am doing much better than I was, or at least have things more under control than, just a few months back.

I mean, I’m definitely not great: between the gallstones and the wrecked intestines, restful uninterrupted sleep is still a pipe-dream, I’ve been essentially on a diet of soup, juice & smoothies for the past several months, and basically everything that sort of defined my whole god-damned joie de vivre — drinking booze with friends, eating amazing, terrible food & generally carousing until all hours of the morning — is all a thing of what now seems like a former-life-type ancient past.

Other than that, my primary vexation is having been cornered into giving very serious, non-metaphorical thought to my own mortality & how I’d like to best spend my remaining years. I expected — or at least very much would have liked to have had — 15, or 20, or, I dunno, maybe even another full 35 years before I was truly confronted with the fundamental transience of human existence, especially after that first 35 with an almost spotless bill of health, never having to deal with much more serious than a lingering cold.

That said — and for as rough & sobering & still mentally-all-consuming/draining as it has been — I’m not at all sure that that system-shock is actually a bad thing, and I’m extremely, incomprehensibly lucky to have only had to free-fall plummet like inches before a human safety-net formed directly underneath me, both in terms of like the day-to-day support of the amazing Austin community, and tear-jerky surprise care-packages from the likes of Keita, Robin, Martin & the rest of team Funomena (as sprinkled above/at top) & Heather and Ivan & so many beautiful emails & other well wishes.

I’m relieved I won’t have to just vague/sub-tweet all of this anymore, and will probably be talking a little more openly about things on Twitter, if you’re curious, but I’m not sure if and where I might have the time & energy to continue writing about this at greater length. If you do want to get in touch to talk more, or have questions about anything, feel free to email brandonnn@gmail.com.

OK, love you all, wish me luck, & here we go.

Tags: Living

63 responses so far ↓

  • 1 John Henderson // Aug 21, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    Glad you’re finally able to put it all into words. As I said before, at least you’re taking care of it and are taking it seriously. Best wishes getting better.

  • 2 Wolfgang Wozniak // Aug 21, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Good luck and good health, friend I’ve not met yet.

  • 3 Malky // Aug 21, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Holy shit, dude.

    Our best wishes are with you.

  • 4 Zack Hiwiller // Aug 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    God Bless You, Brandon. You have a lot of friends out here that wish you the best.

  • 5 Andy Baio // Aug 21, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    I don’t know if this is a natural reaction, but my first impulse is an uncontrollable, teary-eyed, fist-clenched fury, directed at a disease that’s repeatedly hurting the people I admire most in the world.

    So, sorry if this is immature or whatever, but I have to get this out. Hey, cancer: GO FUCK YOURSELF, YOU MOTHERFUCKING FUCKFACED MUTATED CELL BULLSHIT GAAHHH

  • 6 Tiff // Aug 21, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    WE LOVE YOU BRANDON!

  • 7 Ryan // Aug 21, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    This is going to be an epic battle with one clear winner and I know who it’s going to be! YOU! And you’ll make it look easy, just like the master pianist who plays the most intricate piece of artistry before thousands. People from all around will gather to you to support and help your fight and you will lead the battle to victory! Horns will ring, people will cheer, and there will be a baby boom once the battle is done.

    You got this! You know you got this! And I know you got this so you can’t fail! Now go forth and punch cancer in it’s face and tell it that it’s mother has halitosis and to never come back!

    You got this.

  • 8 valambrian // Aug 21, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    The best of luck!

  • 9 Thirtyfour // Aug 21, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Brandon, hugs & love & really, really good luck.

    When I have fear, I watch my beard in the mirror, and feel the power flowing back inside me. You can do the same, but I will send over all my beard power in your direction.

  • 10 Randy // Aug 21, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    You got this man. My thoughts are with you.

  • 11 Mitch Dyer // Aug 21, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Good luck and stay strong, Brandon. You’ve got a massive group of people at your back ready to help. The IGN office sends every good vibe in the building your way.

  • 12 Cory Schmitz // Aug 21, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Love you Brandon!

  • 13 Justin // Aug 21, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    <3

  • 14 Matt Scibilia // Aug 21, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Brandon; we are sending healing thoughts and much luck for a fast recovery! Let us all know if we can help you in any way!

  • 15 andrew k // Aug 21, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    If I could get you a ticket to Elysium to put you on one of those cancer blasting beds, I definitely would. <3

  • 16 Paul Andrew McGee // Aug 21, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Get better dude. Eat that damn cancer. <3

  • 17 Jenny McGrath // Aug 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    So sorry to hear that, Brandon. You’re in my thoughts.

  • 18 Sjors // Aug 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Good luck Brandon, this is tough. All the pain you clearly have already gone through, and you’re not done yet. I don’t know you but we’ve met, and you’re an awesome person. Love your work and want to see where it leads you. I wish all the best, and ultimately a total recovery.

  • 19 Brett // Aug 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    <333333333 best of luck brandon!

  • 20 Matt Hawkins // Aug 21, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Well, look on the bright side… not everyone who gets the big C gets cute, supportive drawings from the creator of Kamatari/Noby Noby!

    That and the love and support from the army of people who are proud to call you a friend and colleague (feel free to add me to that list, btw).

  • 21 Donald Young // Aug 21, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Good luck. I wish you the best.

  • 22 Tyler Barber // Aug 21, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    I hope you have a speedy recovery. Typed about a million things here, none of them post-worthy. So just, good luck man!

  • 23 Erika // Aug 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Wishing you all the best during this difficult time.

    You’ve been such an inspiration, keep doing all the amazing things you do and stay strong!

    <3

  • 24 Richard Flanagan // Aug 21, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    You rock smoky, much love from the wife and I, and as stated, go fuck that cancer up reel gud.

  • 25 Daniel Karminsky // Aug 21, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    I hope you recover soon. I wish you and your family all the best. Stay strong and love life! -from Germany with (indie) love-

  • 26 freddie // Aug 21, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Think healthy, happy thoughts and imagine yourself as healthy as can be and cancer free. The power of the mind is an amazing weapon. I’m sending a prayer for you.

  • 27 Liz R // Aug 21, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    i’m sorry to hear this, brandon. *hugs*. fuck cancer. i hope you pulverize it.

  • 28 richtaur // Aug 21, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Stay positive, you rock! You’re gonna kick cancer’s ass right in the face!!

  • 29 Sterling McGarvey // Aug 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Strength and courage to you, Brandon, in this very difficult time.

  • 30 etdx // Aug 21, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    We love you brandon.
    Nobody knows what it is to experience that situation until it happens.
    I am pretty sure I know how you feel…

    Never stop the fight.

  • 31 Kranzl // Aug 21, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Sorry to read this Brandon; best of luck – I’m sure you’ll prevail.

  • 32 n0wak // Aug 21, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    That’s awful but you’re gonna beat that shit like and get to the next level in no time.

  • 33 Dan Magaha // Aug 21, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Really sorry to hear about this. It is truly a terrible disease and I wish you the best in your fight.

  • 34 Sean Duncan // Aug 21, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Really sorry to hear this, but just to echo everyone else’s comments — YOU WILL BEAT THIS SHIT. Wishing you a super-speedy recovery, Brandon.

  • 35 brackeen // Aug 21, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Oh, man. You’re in my thoughts, Brandon! *bear hug*

  • 36 Kevin Kelly // Aug 21, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    I had to deal with cancer not long after I moved to LA and the hardest thing for me was admitting it, and telling other people about it. You’ve met it head-on, and I have no doubt you will kick it squarely in the ass. Sending good waves your way, and you will be in our thoughts.

  • 37 Andy Nealen // Aug 21, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    love you, brandon! <3

  • 38 simnon // Aug 21, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    good luck man, wish you all the best.

  • 39 Jana // Aug 21, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Brandon, you got this. I don’t even know you IRL but I really like you on the internet. Be strong! Sending love!

  • 40 maré // Aug 21, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    <3

  • 41 Richard Lemarchand // Aug 21, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    You’re going to kick its ass, B. Tell us whatever we can do to help, any time of the day or night. Much love! Xoxoxox

  • 42 Diego // Aug 21, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    Holy crap! Good luck over the next few weeks, thinking of ya.

  • 43 Beau Blyth // Aug 21, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    !!! This is such terrible news– however, I’m stunned that you can write about it with such clarity and good humor! With a spirit like yours, I’m sure it takes much more than cancer to break it. You’ve got this, man.

  • 44 rachael schafer // Aug 21, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    still freaking out to hear of this…wondered what the hospital pics were about. thought maybe it was appendicitis or hemorrhoids or something easy…i wish you had hemorrhoids, brandon. :( i’m kidding…hoping for your health victory to happen by october.

  • 45 Reid Young // Aug 22, 2013 at 1:17 am

    Suddenly, one of the Fangamers felt uneasy and began to pray for the safety of Brandon and his stomach.

  • 46 Colin Northway // Aug 22, 2013 at 1:33 am

    Kill it Brandon. Kill it and mount its head on your wall. You’ve given us enough to take a few months off to get well.

  • 47 Matteo Bittanti // Aug 22, 2013 at 1:49 am

    Sono con te, bambino.

  • 48 Boris // Aug 22, 2013 at 2:02 am

    A quick recovery to you, Brandon!

  • 49 Greg Rice // Aug 22, 2013 at 3:27 am

    Hugs hugs hugs!

  • 50 ptoing // Aug 22, 2013 at 5:20 am

    Stay strong! You seemed like a positive guy when I met you last year at GC7. All the best. <3

  • 51 Dan Manning // Aug 22, 2013 at 6:26 am

    So sorry to hear, good luck Brandon!

  • 52 Linda // Aug 22, 2013 at 6:35 am

    Hello Brandon,

    I don’t know you and You don’t know me, my husband does and I noticed he was upset yesterday to read your blog.

    I have to say I read these lines of yours and I really admire you!! You have an excellent way to see life. Somebody once said that we are not defined for what we get but for how we get out of it, you nailed. as you will nailed this battle, keep loving life the way you do because life will always keep seeking it’s way. !
    L.

  • 53 Marek Plichta // Aug 22, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Take your time and get well Brandon! The world needs you at least for 35 years more!

  • 54 Colin Snyder // Aug 22, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Brandon, thinking of you during your treatment and recovery.

  • 55 Rich Stanton // Aug 22, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Good luck Brandon, you’re a great guy & I hope the treatment goes well. Stay strong & positive, best wishes – R

  • 56 Roy // Aug 22, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Best of luck in your battle ahead. I hope to see you enjoying late-night indulgent food and drink with friends very soon! Thanks for all you do and recover quickly.

  • 57 Sarah Elmaleh // Aug 22, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Oh man, I’m so sorry to hear this! But you’re a champion of goodness, proliferating goodness as a goddamn full-time job, and cancer is a CRAVEN FOOL to mess with its antithesis incarnate. Sending hugs and other cancerbane.

  • 58 John Watson // Aug 22, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Hang in there Brandon!

  • 59 Matt Daly // Aug 22, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Keep your chin up mate, I wish you an easy recovery

  • 60 Pedro Garlaschi // Aug 22, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Good lucky Brandon ! Hope you all the best on your treatment .
    I had bone cancer in my leg when i was 23 and after that i also had 3 times on my lungs . I did one year chemotherapy and 4 surgeries.
    Try to keep your mind happy and your body relaxed when you see that will be an old chapter in your life.

  • 61 Albert McClelland // Aug 25, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Get well soon Brandon! Austin’s gaming community will be one glorious beard short until your return.
    -The weird guy at Juegos Rancheros stuff who thinks game developers are Rockstars

  • 62 Dajana Dimovska // Aug 26, 2013 at 5:14 am

    Lots of hugs from me and fight that cancer like a boss <3

  • 63 Jason Cirillo // Aug 26, 2013 at 9:11 am

    I have been moving and am just catching up and now seeing this, though I wish I were seeing something else. You will destroy this thing. You will be a cancer-free hombre in no time. Sending you the best vibes I can find. Press on!