I’ll give you the functional parts of my life story important to my journey as best I can.
I’m very, very fortunate in that when I was young, my parents showed me a ton of love and affection.
So I’ve come from a very good family.
In the sense, I had all these kinds of good values instilled in me from a young.
One particular value my parents were very big on is they tried hard to instill a sense of self-belief.
I was quite an unexceptional child at the beginning of my life, which I think is functional to the story.
I wasn’t talented at anything, particularly but my parents were desperate to find something I could own and be proud of. And that would make me believe myself and feel like I was special.
So when I was seven years old, they sent me to drum lessons, which is not something other kids were doing at the time. Not many kids were playing instruments and playing the drums.
I tried very hard, and it helped me to deal with a lot of concentration skills and whatnot.
But most importantly, it gave me a lot of confidence.
Because I could do something that other kids weren’t doing and I got fairly decent at it.
And then in my third grade when I was nine years old the music teacher asked me to play drums in the car service rather than sing like all the other kids.
Everyone came up to me afterward and would say, Josh, you’re amazing.
That kind of moment was a complete turning point in my life.
In that, it gave me so much self-belief and confidence and I was like you know I’m worth a lot and I can do things in this world.
And so from that point on I did really well at school and throughout University and very well in sports.
All around I cultivated this idea in self-belief is the secret weapon of achievement to like to get to wherever you want to go.
If you believe in yourself, it’s cliched now, but if you believe in yourself enough It just happens for you.
I saw that in my own life.
And I never, ever let myself believe that I couldn’t do something.
So that’s kind of the backstory, and then from there, I have a good life until 2012.
I was in second-year University studying engineering.
I had a girlfriend at the time, and I was on the House Committee of my residence.
And so I had responsibility.
There I was playing University hockey and competitive cricket, as well.
I was completely overburdened wasn’t coping with my load, as well as having trouble in my relationship with my girlfriend, which was adding a lot of emotional stress in my life.
All of those conditions, I think, actually led to the trigger of the brain tumor itself.
I believe it was emotional stress or anxiety effect, that manifested physiologically.
I noticed the symptom very odd symptom. The muscles on the half part of my face reshuffle and never relax. And I still experienced that to this day.
I went for MRI scans, multiple of them, and all sorts of other kinds of odd fine motor experiments done by neurologists.
And then finally, after a week of testing, I saw an oncologist, who had all the data in all of the scans and all the other kind of write up reports from me balancing on one leg and closing one eye and so forth.
He kind of looked at me within five minutes of meeting me.
And said quite bluntly, he didn’t seem sad to that it was unlikely that I was going to survive.
He said this kind of condition normally kills children.
This kind of brain tumor.
It’s not operable because of the location on the brainstem, which is a really sensitive part of the body.
He gave me a kind of layout of progress.
He was like the most aggressive can kill you in a couple of months. Yours will likely give you three years to live if we do chemo and radiation now.
And maybe with the best chemo and radiation results, we could push you a little bit longer than three years, but not likely.
It was the most surreal thing to try and absorb as a 20-year-old with enormous hopes and dreams.
I did have plans to do big things in this world.
And so I took a bit of time to try and digest that it was extremely difficult.
It took me about three days of feeling down and horrendous around this and I just got sick and tired of it
I then went on this run in the pouring rain.
I felt so healthy and I’ve always been an athlete.
Running along and I was like this can’t be, I can’t let this happen.
I feel so good.
I had this epiphany we all might die at some point and maybe my battle is to face this concept of death much younger than I expected.
But in any eventuality, let me give it everything I’ve got.
I’ll eat healthily and exercise.
Every day I’ll condition my mind to be extremely positive, happy, full of love, and all the right kind of emotions.
And apply the same kind of self-belief formula that’s for success in other areas of life to this the greatest problem that I’ve faced.
If I lose this battle, at least then I know I’ve given everything I’ve got, and I couldn’t have had a better quality of life in the time that I had this.
I didn’t feel a draw towards kind of throwing all caution to the wind.
Becoming a skydiver and using all my savings to do weird things because I did have a little bit of time left.
I’d rather spend my life living with a little bit more meaning and if I don’t make it through so be it.
I’ll love to know how old are you now?
Okay, how would you define healing? What does it mean to you?
Joe, for me, healing, I think most functionally was to let go of the anxiety that attacked me when I heard this news.
I think anyone in my kind of situation can attest to the emotional turmoil that you’re immediately pulled through by having to think about this.
Reality to me at that moment where I kind of made peace with the fact that yes, I may die.
And yes, I want to live long.
But as soon as I was able to let go of that anxiety and fear, I kind of felt the healing process started from there.
I think multidimensional and you have emotional, mental, and physical.
For me, it has to start with emotional and then it filters through to mind where your mind is all right with all outcomes.
And you start to feel confident and strong that you’re going to be healthy and okay.
So for me healing yes, it’s a difficult one to define and I’m not a medical physician.
In my journey, it started emotional, mental, physical.
And I guess if we go to the data, the fact that I’m still alive and very healthy and have no other symptoms that have degraded since my diagnosis.
My healing it’s been pretty positively trended so far.
Did you go through chemotherapy?
I very nearly went through chemotherapy.
The plan was at the point of diagnosis, the doctors thought it wouldn’t help because this is such aggressive cancer.
And chemotherapy historically hasn’t worked that effectively on a tumor of this kind.
And the other half said, no, it will work when combined with radiation so they wanted to do radiation and chemo in those two techniques together could cause or effect.
But my family and our closest doctor a neurosurgeon decided to hold off and he said, okay, let’s just monitor it over time, try your alternative methods.
Try your whole positive object and let’s see if it gets even 3% worse, then we’ll jump to chemotherapy.
We didn’t want to do it immediately, because it’s such a devastatingly destructive kind of treatment, it really can harm you a lot.
So I’m not advocating that those other people who could benefit a lot from chemo shouldn’t do it.
But for me at that time, we had a little bit of luxury.
So we just monitored the tumor over a couple of months and with a mindset shift, it didn’t degrade.
My condition only got better.
We luckily didn’t have to do that at that stage.
You talk about alternative treatment, like what kind?
I do something quite interesting, called ozone therapy.
And this is a theory that the chemical ozone, not oxygen kills tumor pathogens and pathogenic cells.
We tried that just because there’s no downside.
And then you’re just having a whole lot of antioxidants in your diet.
Doing things like drinking green tea, eating beetroot, and eating healthy.
Cutting out a lot of bad stuff in that regard.
Not eating poorly and then exercising a lot which I’d kind of done in my life anyway.
But just maintaining it through all periods.
So you’ve got your lifestyle shift, which is ensuring you’re as healthy as a human can be.
My mom kind of did everything.
I think she read the whole internet on cancer treatments.
She was so determined to try to find a way to heal me.
She also looked into reflexology which we did a bit of as well we do now and then.
And it’s very difficult to say which is the primary driver of the healing that I’ve experienced it could be any one of these treatments.
We just decided to do them all in case anyone could help and save me.
Those are things we’ve experimented with.
I don’t have data to prove which one it was but I feel like reflexology is quite effective.
Ozone is a bit harder to feel.
I really believe that mental states and emotional states have an enormous bearing on your healing and you’re physical well being and health
How is what you experienced then affected the people around you?
Three effects, two negative and one very positive.
I think probably the proudest achievement of my life was when I got diagnosed.
It was maybe four weeks before I was to take engineering exams.
And I had to go home, which is away from college, do a whole lot of medical tests.
Then obviously, the diagnosis came out that it’s fatal.
As we were still reeling from this news.
The doctors were like, well, you’re stable for the time being, you may as well go finish your year.
Instead of missing a whole year thus having to repeat because you have your exams at the college all that.
So I went back and just objectively decided to myself there’s no point in worrying and being distraught and depressed and sad.
There’s nothing I can actually do to improve my situation now, so I may as well throw myself on my work and focus on it and do the best I can.
And in that set of exams, with that mindset, I was able to finish top of my degree.
I think given the context I’m quite proud of it, then to more accurately answer your question.
There were some negative effects of my diagnosis on the people closest to me.
My girlfriend and I ended up breaking up just before I got diagnosed.
She wanted to be there for me in this hard time, and in the time, I didn’t know that I was going to live or die.
So I didn’t want her to get closer to me and go through the traumatic experience in any possible way should it happen.
So I didn’t allow that to happen again, and I think that may have been a big mistake.
And maybe a lesson for anyone else in that scenario where someone wants to be there for you maybe just let them.
Third, my dad sadly never really fully recovered from the news.
Being exceptionally close as we were, he just couldn’t deal with the concept that I might die.
It affected him badly he started drinking more.
And he just couldn’t cope with his work in the same way.
He passed away last year from cumulative degraded health effects.
I think, arguably the number one contributor was the news of my brain tumor.
It’s really sad because I tried to convince him like Dady I’ve got this, I can win this battle.
You don’t need to worry the way you’re worrying.
But that was sitting on his heart and sadly, he couldn’t come back from that.
I’m sorry to hear that.
Thank you, Joel.
Do you have tools that you use to keep yourself moving forward?
For me, I kind of have two major tools.
The first one is gratitude and perspective.
Waking up every single day, and thinking about three things that I’m grateful for, and I have so many things.
Number one most days is simply just being alive.
I mean, it’s not hard to find things to be grateful for.
I just find that puts you in such an amazing mental state going out into your day, every day.
The perspective that comes with thinking about this, just reminding myself that this morning things that go wrong.
Things like spill coffee and things that people get way too worked up a lot.
Even things that feel bigger like arguments with friends, when you have a perspective, it’s easier to not let those things disturb you.
My friends would describe me as not an ill-tempered or an anxious person.
I think those go a long way to maintaining the kind of interstates I need to stay in the game and not let the tumor beat me.
And then second to that was an amazingly powerful tool is after I got diagnosed, I started doing what you could call action sports.
But for me, they’re more like spiritual outdoors in sports.
I started surfing and snowboarding and trail running and mountain climbing and things like that.
For me when I put myself in those scenarios when I’m sitting on a surfboard, out of the sea, I feel so in touch with nature and revitalized.
It’s like a spiritual experience for me to feel the energy of the ocean and just be so far removed from our daily hustle and bustle of everyday life.
I can’t describe in words the way it recharges me and it gives me peace of mind and strength.
I can feel after I have one of those sessions ready to go again.
It makes me feel braver in the face of that kind of life-threatening situation.
You talk about anxiety. Is there a point it goes away completely?
I don’t think anyone can be completely anxiety-free.
It’s a constant.
I don’t want to say battle, but it’s a constant effort to make sure that you’re not letting anxiety, grief, and fear into your heart.
I think when you’re grieving over the loss of a loved one, that’s a positive emotion.
But for me, anxiety is very different from deadline pressure when you’re motivated, to work hard and get something done.
But anxiety, I think, is a real, real negative emotion and has a lot of negative consequences on your health.
So for me, my anxiety at the point of diagnosis, if I’m being completely transparent, was worry over the situation with my girlfriend.
And how I was coping with making her happy and trying to do all the other things I was doing and it just wasn’t working out.
And so that gave me enormous anxiety.
Probably some of our fights, I would stay up at night couldn’t sleep.
I think that was just toxic.
And since of being diagnosed and developing my worldview as it is today.
I think I’m largely enormously anxiety-free.
It’s easy for me to stay like that because I’ve had the experience of how destructive it can be.
As well as maintaining the perspective that at the end of the day, we’re all going to die.
And there’s no point in letting that emotion rule you.
There’s nothing on earth worth it.
So, to have that perspective and remember what’s important in life, I feel like I’m able to manage anxiety fairly well.
How do we build the kind of community that can help us nurture our healing?
We have to remember how important the community is in the healing process.
In my case, I was very lucky in my community was right in front of me.
As I mentioned, I have an amazing family that loves me a lot.
That was step number one.
So between love and helping me always believe in myself.
Those were the two main support pillars that I needed.
If I didn’t have the small community of my family, then I don’t think I would have made it at all.
So I think everyone who goes through something devastating and needs intense major miraculous healing.
It needs an intense support network.
And your question is, how do we build that? And that’s quite a difficult one.
I think the thing we need to achieve is to make sure that anyone who needs to heal.
Needs to be able to feel love, in some kind of way, shape, or form.
Whether it be by the people physically around them or who they’re connected to.
They need to be helped to make sure that they can not blame themselves.
Because they facing an insanely daunting task in their own right.
Josh Perry has been covered in the media both as a professional athlete and as a brain tumor survivor. He has been a guest on over 40 podcasts. A featured speaker at some of the top keto and metabolic health conferences throughout the world. Like ESPN, XGAMES, American Got Talent, Men’s Health, and GQ. Click here to learn more and to check him on his personal site