War reporter Rod Norland displays on glioblastoma in ‘Waiting for the Monsoon’ : NPR

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Rod Nordland seems on the Istanbul outdated metropolis from Galata Tower on Nov. 20, 2016. Nordland was recognized with glioblastoma, a terminal mind most cancers, in 2019.

Yasin Akgul/AFP by way of Getty Images


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Yasin Akgul/AFP by way of Getty Images


Rod Nordland seems on the Istanbul outdated metropolis from Galata Tower on Nov. 20, 2016. Nordland was recognized with glioblastoma, a terminal mind most cancers, in 2019.

Yasin Akgul/AFP by way of Getty Images

As a battle correspondent for The New York Times, Newsweek and the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rod Nordland confronted demise many instances over. He’s felt bullets whizzing by his head in Cambodia, and as soon as escaped a lodge room in Sarajevo moments earlier than a mortar assault lowered his mattress to rubble.

But in 2019, Nordland confronted a special kind of hazard when he was recognized with glioblastoma, essentially the most deadly type of mind tumor.

The median life expectancy for somebody with glioblastoma is about 14 months. Less than 7% of individuals survive 5 years. Nordland says his time as a battle corresponded helped put together him for his most cancers prognosis.

“One of a very powerful issues I realized as a battle correspondent was … to remain calm and never lose management of your feelings,” he says. “And I feel that is been a very good lesson for coping with most cancers, too.”

Optimistic by nature, Nordland acknowledges that he is already crushed the chances by residing with glioblastoma for so long as he has. He’s actively engaged in remedy, however he additionally acknowledges that there isn’t any treatment for his kind of most cancers.

“I needed to face the truth that my demise was inside a reasonably brief timespan, extremely possible,” he says. “That had by no means been the case earlier than. And I feel it made me a greater individual for that.”

Nordland writes about going through mortality from battle and most cancers in his new memoir, Waiting for the Monsoon.

Interview highlights

Waiting for the Monsoon, by Rod Nordland

Harper Collins


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Harper Collins


Waiting for the Monsoon, by Rod Nordland

Harper Collins

On his present therapies for glioblastoma

I’m doing a low-dose of chemo, and I’m additionally carrying a tool on my head referred to as an Optune. It’s a collection of ceramic arrays which might be sort of glued to my head after I shave it. And then they they emit digital beams which might be thought to combat tumors. … So each three days or so I’ve to shave my head bald after which reapply the arrays. And I’ve to be sure that the Optune machine is near me. So it usually means having anyone else carry it for me if I transfer it round or put it in a backpack or behind my wheelchair. So that is a bit annoying and definitely restricts my motion quite a bit.

On the uncomfortable side effects of the therapies

I do use a wheelchair after I exit to appointments, to docs appointments, only for security’s sake. Because whereas I can stroll with a cane typically with out a cane, I’m very vulnerable to falls and tripping as a result of … when the physician minimize the tumor out, he additionally minimize some nerves that supplied sensation to my left aspect. So I’ve no sensation on my left, which causes loads of mobility issues. It provides you what they name poor proprioception, which is a flowery phrase, that means your mind’s data of the place your physique is in house. And in case your mind does not know the place your physique elements are, you are clearly very vulnerable to falls, which, in my case, are unhealthy for my head [and] could be deadly.

On being a battle correspondent

When I started working as a battle correspondent, I used to be nonetheless 20-something and nonetheless in some ways an adolescent. Like loads of younger folks, I actually did not consider in my very own mortality. And I feel that is true of lots of people who do this sort of work, as a result of in any other case, who would do it? Who would soar out of an airplane right into a parachute in the event that they did not have some perception in their very own immortality? So I misplaced that vanity very profoundly after I was on a entrance line towards my very own guidelines in Cambodia, on the outskirts of a refugee camp the place there was a nasty little internecine battle occurring between factions that ran the camp and lived off of the proceeds of the meals and provides they may steal. … I used to be standing shoulder to shoulder with one among these militiamen, and there have been bullets whizzing over our heads. … And we simply stood there like idiots. And a type of bullets hit the man subsequent to me and blew his brains out, fairly actually.

… After that, I began doing it actually in a different way. That taught me that I used to be, in reality, mortal, which is a vital lesson that every one younger males ought to study as quickly as potential. And after that, I by no means went to the entrance strains anymore.

On the that means of life

I requested all people I met what the that means of life was. I even requested Alexa. The reply was, to cite Eleanor Roosevelt, that “the aim of life is to dwell life to the fullest and to take pleasure in every little thing about it.” That’s considerably of a lame reply. But at one time I requested that query of a nurse and he or she turned it round on me and stated, “What do you assume the that means of life is?” So I stated, “Well, I’m sorry, I’m going to should punt on that. But I feel the that means of life is, as Raymond Carver stated, ‘to really feel your self beloved on this earth.'” And that was my reply then. And it is my reply within the ebook too.

Sam Briger and Susan Nyakundi produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Bridget Bentz, Seth Kelley and Carmel Wroth tailored it for the net.

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