May 5th, 2002
J.V. Askem

Based upon all the speculation and possible inaccurate conjecture regarding my health,  I feel it best at this time to explain my current medical condition. Also, it my sincere hope that the following information will possibly assist others who may have similar symptoms.

I've been diagnosed with a meningioma, or in more simple terms, a brain tumor. The type of tumor I have arises from the meninges (the thin layer of tissue covering the brain and spinal cord). Generally meningiomas grow inward causing pressure on the brain or spinal cord. But in some cases they grow outward putting pressure on the skull.

In most cases meningiomas are benign and are graded on a scale from I to IV. Grade IV meningiomas are the most malignant (3% to 20%). They usually are found in people 40 to 60 years old. Less then 2% appear in children, and benign meningiomas occur most often in women.

The cause is unknown, but tests on removed tissues show abnormal chromosomal levels {#22}, but what causes this is uncertain.

To absolutely determine whether a meningioma exists, one must have a CAT scan and or an MRI (I've had both). Other tests are performed to determine the type of tumor.

Surgery is the primary treatment for meningiomas located in an accessible area of the brain or spine. Accessible meningiomas are those that can be operated on with little risk of neurological damage. (My doctors give me a good prognoses there).

On March 8th of this year I rode my bike indoors on its stationary stand for 20 minutes. Upon completion I felt good and stepped off of the bike, but when I went to walk away my left leg would not move. I could feel the leg (sensory nerves), but my motor nerve functions were shut down! In other words my leg would not do what my brain was telling it to do. This condition lasted about 30 seconds, and then I felt normal.

Then on March 16th, I was at my friends George and Pat Farren's farm, where some of my protégés train Strongman events. After doing a couple of light sets of Log clean and presses (175 lbs) I went and sat down while one of the others worked in. While sitting down my left leg started to quiver uncontrollably with same loss of motor function like on March 8th. My immediate response was to massage my leg like before and try to walk it off. At this point my protégé Bristol Marunde saw I was in difficulty and immediately came to my assistance.

Upon asking what was wrong I told Bristol that I had this condition once before and that it lasted less than minute. Also, that it felt like when I had had acupuncture for a pulled hamstring in 1974. "Probably a cramped muscle", I thought, as I my left glute had been tighter than usual from gardening. At this point I stopped my workout.

April 22nd brought a more severe seizure! Upon finishing grocery shopping at my local produce market, I put my groceries the front of my truck on the passenger side. Then I walked around to the driver's side and got in. At this point my left leg started a similar quivering as on March 16th.

My immediate instinct was again to massage my leg and try and walk it off. I staggered to the back of my pickup and lowered the tail gate and crawled in a laid down. This seizure was more severe lasting over a minute. It was at this point that I surmised I might have more than a muscle cramp. My immediate self diagnoses was a brain tumor or the first signs of Multiple Sclerosis. The weakness in my leg is similar to MS victims, but they don't usually seizure.

April 29th, 2002 the worst day of my life!!! While sitting in the waiting room at our car dealer, while our car was being serviced, a fourth seizure started. I was very relaxed and just reading the paper when my left leg started to quiver and lost motor function. I immediately got up and limped to the men's room where I crashed to the floor and had a massive seizure that went up the whole left side of my body. It lasted at least 2 minutes and felt like a huge electric shock.

Fire dept paramedics were called and they took me to the emergency room at Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles, WA. There a CAT scan was performed that showed a tumor. Thus the ER made an immediate appointment for me to see a Neurologist at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. I went there the day after the next and further tests were done, including an MRI.

The result is I have a meningioma about the diameter of a ping pong ball on the right top side of my brain. And this is causing an inflammation about twice that size on the right side of my brain. I have no pain except what I felt during that fourth seizure, but based upon the progressive intensity of each seizure I must have this tumor removed. I'm on special medications to prevent any further seizures.

The right side of the brain controls the left side of your body and visa versa, and the location of my tumor is affecting my left side motor functions, mainly in the leg. If not removed this tumor will be permanently disabled me and shorten my life. My surgeon feels, because I'm in good physical condition, I should make a full recovery. However,  3% to 5% of the time disability can result.

As of now, I'm scheduled for surgery on May 8th. Your prayers and well wishes are very much appreciated. JVA