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My Tumor’s Landlord

The Compromise

As many of you may know, even though I am a cancer survivor, I am not technically in complete remission. Instead, I am what is called in “partial remission” since my tumor still resides in my brain in a dormant state. According to my doctors, this is most likely the best it is going to get unless the cancer begins to grow and, worse comes to worse, they need to remove a significant portion of my brain. Herein lies the compromise that I have made with myself. No one else is involved in this compromise aside from me and my brain.


Landlord vs. Tenant

The agreement that I have made with myself is that, the tumor can live in my brain all it wants, but it MUST stay quiet at all times. No partying, no company, no pets, no add-ons, no roommates, NOTHING. In return, the tumor must pay its rent to me – and that is a daily expense, not monthly.

I am the owner of my brain, and the tumor is simply an unwelcome tenant. Nothing more. If the tumor needs anything, such as a willingness to leave its dormant state or to grow and try again to kill me, I will always say “no” to it. Without the metaphorical situation at hand, I may seem like a horrible landlord. However, if I plan to remain in this partial remission, then this is the type of landlord I must remain.

The Rent

What is this daily rent that the tumor must pay in exchange for living in my brain as an unwanted tenant?

Well, I am certainly glad you asked. You see, in the past, this tumor paid its rent by giving me major seizures, a diagnosis that handed me a 180 degree rotation on my perspective in life, and it caused my family to stress beyond comprehension. Back then, it seemed as if the tumor was partying constantly, always having people over, staying up late at night and being loud, and never cleaning up after itself – and I would allow all of it. I was a pushover of a landlord. I write this paragraph with laughter – oh how things have changed.

Nowadays, this tumor pays its rent via daily motivation to keep fighting this cancer. It pays its rent in the form of driving me to keep my health – not only for my own life, but for my future wife’s life, our eventual children’s life, and my parent’s opportunity to call themselves grandparents. The tumor’s rent comes in the form of my practice of mindfulness and meditation – a practice that I would have put zero mental stock into before the diagnosis. But now, it has allowed me to upgrade my lens from simply black and white, to full, high definition color.

The Metaphor

Obviously, this entire scenario is a basic metaphor. But it is one that I love to identify with. If the tumor is going to reside in my brain for the rest of my life, I may as well learn to live with it as opposed to against it or as opposed to letting it run my life.

Does the tumor sometimes pay its rent in the form of high stress and anxiety? Sure it does. But with the practices of mindfulness and meditation, this tumor has introduced me to so many more positives than negatives.

After being such a daunting landlord to this poor tumor, perhaps I should leave a note under its door that says something along the lines of…


“Dear Tumor,

Thank you for residing in my brain. You are an acceptable tenant, and I appreciate the rent for living here. Without you, my life would still be on autopilot. Perhaps I would not be with my loving fiancée to date. Maybe I would not be an employee to the city that I love so dearly. Despite your first few years of disappointing rent, you have grown to bring more light to my life as opposed to darkness.”


Stay Mindful.


  1. Nina Nina

    Dear Paul:
    your ability to see beyond the black and white of your story pages is remarkable.
    The fact that you are sharing this is truly generous of you. In writing your words and writing about your challenges, joys, and sorrows, your personal experience is a teacher to others. Your words make me smile, even though the very heart of what you are dealing with makes me sad. However, Somehow I am confident you are going to be ok. You have love, joy, and family. Which in our lives is a a lot.

  2. Marc Marc

    good stuff!

  3. Judy parisi Judy parisi

    You are a remarkable person & your comments made me chuckle in regards to your tenant-landlord relationship. You are teaching all of us that follow your blog a sense of what true life really is. We all would love to have a life with no stumbling blocks but truefully we wouldn’t appreciate anything if we did. So we take our one day at a time & enjoy it because we are not promised tomorrow.

  4. Rosalie Nicastro Rosalie Nicastro

    Paul, your are one in a million. That story about you tenant is a riot. You are so smart. I love you spirit. God Bless You.

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