If you haven’t read my previous article, I recommend reading it so that way you’re not completely lost. It’s not needed, as this is a whole separate story on its own, but you may want to at least go back and read the first part after you’re finished with this one. You can also check out this video that sorta sums up my first article.
I left off talking about my surprisingly short recovery back to BMX, never giving up on your dreams, and always following your heart. I do believe we have the power within ourselves to overcome any obstacles in our lives. That being said, I also believe it’s absolutely crucial to have a support system.
I had an enormous amount of support from Charlotte, family, friends, the Athlete Recovery Fund, the BMX community, and so many random people that heard my story and wanted to wish me the best. My mom was nice enough to make some wristbands that say, “Go Big, Fly High Josh Perry”, which was something she has always told me throughout my life, that way people could show their support with proceeds going to ARF for all the good they do for action sports and for me and my family.
This kind of support went a long way for me. It’s what helped fuel my strength to get through the surgery and to make a full recovery. Not only did I want to see myself ride again, I wanted to give back to all those people who showed so much love and support by showing them that they can get past anything, too.
Besides Charlotte being there for me more than anyone, telling my mom she would take great care of me so she didn’t have to worry about me, there was one friend who has always been there for me. Even before the brain tumors. His name, Leigh Ramsdell. Leigh is not only a very close friend of mine and someone I look up to, but he was also my team manager for Eastern Bikes at the time. Leigh is one of the raddest dudes I know- definitely “good people!”
He printed out some stickers to hand out at the Jomo Pro contest (my first pro contest I won the previous year) to support me. They said, “Resist/Recover/Ride”. Leigh said they accidentally ended up coming out, “Resist/Recovery/Ride”, but it was still awesome!
I was stoked to receive photos from the contest of friends like Drew Bezanson and Brandon Dosch with stickers on their bikes and helmets. Nick even had my last name written in on the back of his shirt with a red sharpie for the contest.
This meant so much to me and cheered me right up about not being able to defend my title. To top it off, Micah Cranz was announcing the contest and he had everyone scream as loud as they could for me before the contest began.
This touched my heart on so many levels and it gave me goose bumps watching. It’s amazing how so many people can put out so much positive energy to someone they may or may not know. Shout out to Micah and all the riders at the contest for their support! I can’t begin to thank everyone enough for the love.
As I mentioned previously, the recovery was not long at all. When I first learned I would have to have surgery I imagined it taking a year for me to get back to my normal life. I even watched youtube videos of brain surgeries and that episode from the movie Saw 4 (I think thats the one) out of curiosity. I don’t know why but for some reason I figured it would a year recovery. I was amazed to learn that the human skull can fuse back together in just 4 weeks! I remember going for that 4 week follow-up so excited, nervous, and confident to ask “can I ride yet?” All I had to do at this point was wait for the swelling to go away, which would just be another week or two.
After making a full recovery I was very motivated, driven, and determined to be better than before! It took me a good bit to feel comfortable again
(something that mentally would go on for the following 2-3 years) but I didn’t let that stop me.
I owe a lot of my riding development, as a pro rider, to riding with guys like Mike Laird, James Foster, Brandon Christie, Kelly Bolton, Todd Meyn, Vince Byron, Drew Bezanson, Ryan Guettler, Daniel Dhers, Nick Digeroloma, and the man himself, Dave Mirra. Those are all guys I still look up to and they would push me on a regular basis to be the best I could be on and off my bike.
I worked my ass off at the gym, riding on the road bike trainer, and learning about nutrition for an athlete! I remember the first day back from a legit session coming home and feeling so light headed, weak, and nauseous from going too hard too soon. I was too excited and didn’t want to feel handicapped.
I would spend so many hours riding Mirra’s private training facility, “The Animal House”, on a daily basis. All that negative energy from the tumor was turned into fuel to not let my riding spoil.
In October of 2010, 6 months after my surgery, I made my first Dew-Tour final in Las Vegas! I remember the minute I found out how I amazing it felt. It was my first time to Vegas and I had Charlotte and Todd flying in that night. Once again I felt on top of the world.
I think I qualified 9th or 10th out of the 12 they took to the finals. I was so stoked on that because even though winning is great, its more satisfying to me to be able to accomplish something I set my mind to and in this case it was to make a final. That is why I love projects, on and off the bike, and filming BMX video parts (web or DVD). Video projects are always me setting goals (tricks, gaps, lines) to accomplish. Seeing the final result is always so rewarding to me.
One night while Todd was filming with Guettler to wrap up a video they had been working on, I jumped in while Todd was chilling after each clip. I originally was riding as support to Todd but then Ryan would ask if I had anything I wanted to film while the camera was out. Of course I said yes! It would turn into Todd and I going back to back filming clips while getting each other hyped up. It was my first video back from surgery (all filmed in that night session) and I was so stoked on it!
Fast forward a few years to July of 2011, at a Dew Tour contest in Ocean City, MD, and I would find myself once again scaring everyone. All I remember is following Vince around a curved wall ride out of a 10-foot quarter pipe that dropped off into a 6-foot landing of the step-down. I would come up short, flip over the bars, and hit my head so hard that I instantly got knocked out.
Char was right there in the stands and wasn’t allowed down to me. She was freaking out and didn’t know what to do and called Trish. Trish helped calm her down and got in contact with the medics at the event. The riders said you could hear me snoring. I was later told that my heart stopped beating for a good amount of time.
Char was the first person I saw after waking up from nearly dying once again. I woke up in the ambulance throwing up ( a common side-effect from that type of blow to the head) as I lay on the stretcher. I remember the ambulance ride being so bumpy and what felt like the longest trip ever. I also remember saying to Char, “Charlotte, I’m done riding. I cant handle this anymore.”
Well, we all know that didn’t last long. I was ordered to wait ten days until I could ride again. You better believe on that 10th day I was back on my bike. I went to the local park in Greenville, NC to ride with a good friend of mine and another rider I looked up to as a kid, Scott Wirch.
It was so difficult to handle seeing Charlotte that upset and worried on top of dealing with my head again. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like for her to see me laying there on the ground as my life literally stopped for some time. It’s pretty amazing what we humans will go through for the ones we love and the things we love to do.
Through all my life scaring moments, Char was always with me and supported my passion for BMX. I will always be grateful for her love, support, patience, and understanding of my long lasting desire to ride my BMX bike. I will always try my best to repay her, as well as pay it forward to the rest of the world for their kindness, love, and support.
The coolest thing about BMX, besides the actual riding and the people you meet, is the places you get to go. I touched upon Iraq and other countries of the Middle East in my first article. I never thought I would get the chance to ride my bike in India, or any foreign country for the matter, and get paid to do so. I plan on writing articles in the future about my Middle East adventures. For this articles sake, I will only mention India. With good reason, too.
India was not only a wild trip because of the fact I was in India, but it would be where I would yet again find out some devastating news. It was September 2012 when I got back to my hotel room from a demo where I found a message in my e-mail from my mother. She said there was something she needed to talk to me about. Mom told me about the recent MRI scan I had back in May that showed 2 tumors growing back. They were said to be the size of blueberries and located in a very dangerous spot- close by to the main artery. They were no immediate concern but would have to be dealt with at some point soon.
I was completely devastated by the news and I was starting to go crazy thinking of what to do, why this was happening again, and how could I stop them from growing. That same feeling of fearing for my life came back. This time because I thought for a minute it was cancerous and it would never stop.
I was on a train ride back to the airport, alone, and I remember being so scared and tears running down my face. I couldn’t handle the news or the fact that I was alone on a train in India of all places. I don’t know many people that have been put in this type of situation but it’s an unfathomable feeling to explain.
Even though this situation was not as severe as the initial brain tumor, those same feelings rushed back. After feeling sorry for myself and asking, “why me”, I refused to let the tumors control my happiness. I decided to put my headphones on and envision myself riding. I turned that fear, confusion, and devastation into fuel to get past this challenge and not let the tumors beat me down.
- to rise above or go beyond; overpass; exceed.
- be or go beyond the range of limits of
The meaning of this word holds a lot of value to me. So much, that I named my signature frame from a previous bike sponsor the.
I remember asking Charlotte why this was happening to me. She told me, “God gives his strongest warriors his toughest battles.” I remember still being confused as to why this was happening again, though, and what I was meant to do with these experiences.
I have later come to realize that I’m an example of what we can do when we put our minds to something. We can all overcome adversity, not matter how difficult or scary the obstacle may be. I look back and I am grateful for the brain tumor happening. It has completely shifted my perspective on life, nutrition, and health. I’m grateful to have overcome it and to now have the ability to share my story with others.
I hope my story inspires you to not only live your life to the fullest but, also to no take anything for granted. As you read the following articles to finish up my story, I hope it changes your awareness of the relationship you have with the food you consume. Also, the quality of that food and how it correlates with your health on so many levels.
Dr. Allan Friedman (my surgeon) recommended looking into radiation as it was in a location too risky for surgery. Because of its location, Dr. Friedman said it was not a guarantee that he would be able to get it all out without harming the artery, which had a whole host of side-effects of its own. Charlotte, once again, was so great and helpful in how to approach this. We came across Elekta’s Gamma Knife Radiation. It was said to be cutting edge technology in radiation/tumor treatments with the highest rates of success and nearly non-invasive.
Before embarking on this wild journey for Gamma Knife radiation, Charlotte and I were getting ready for a cruise to the Bahamas that we had booked for her birthday from the year prior. It was my first cruise and I was so excited. Besides a little motion sickness here and there, we both had a great time. It was definitely a good way to calm me down a bit. I still had my moments of the inability to just sit and relax (anyone who knows me personally understands this). I feel that will never change until I am old and have begun to slow down.
Once we got back from the trip it would be about 2 months until my scheduled treatment. As it got closer to that time, I posted a photo from my “notes” section of my iPhone to Instagram with my upcoming schedule for the month of November.
That month couldn’t have gone better. I won the Trans Jam Contest in Greenville, the best trick for the street discipline and the overall year-end title, it was my birthday on the 20th, and Char and I would have Thanksgiving with my dad’s side of the family on Cape Cod before treatment.
I will end this article with something I believe is crucial for our lives- a positive mindset.
The way you think, the way you act and talk, and the way you view outcomes can have a dramatic effect on how well you overcome a situation when you approach it with a positive attitude.
It’s hard to believe in positivity energy when you’re going through hard times, I know this all too well. But, with a support system of some sorts and doing your best to think in a positive manner, you can get past anything that comes your way.
I hope you are inspired to be strong and positive. I also hope you feel the courage to follow your dreams, no matter what they are. Please, feel free to comment or reach out to my social networks to share your stories and to ask any questions!
Keep an eye out for my next article about my experience with Gamma Knife radiation and the events leading up to it…