It’s Only A Dream Until It Happens To You

I was listening to Pandora recently when a song by G-Eazy came on and I heard these lyrics:

“It’s only a dream until it happens to you”.

I instantly felt a great overwhelming sense of gratitude for my life and all that’s happened to me, good and bad. I live my dream every day and still have further dreams. I’ve become friends with my idols, made best friends from around the world, and have seen parts of the world most won’t. My dream became a reality but not without obstacles and life changing events. 

As beat up as I am right now from two recent crashes (bone bruise on my shin/ankle and old torn lat muscle that I slammed along with my back into a quarter pipe last week), I’m still thrilled to be getting on a plane on my way to Denver Fise to compete.

I may not be 100% but I’m just at about 9 months out of ACL/Meniscus reconstructive surgery and am thankful to be competing again. It was the worst recovery I’ve had to date, even more so than brain tumor surgery recovery. It took a toll on me mentally and physically. But like any challenge we face in life, we must set fear aside and give it our all in order to reach our goals.

The falls I’ve taken on and off the bike have taught me a great deal about myself and life. I continue to ride my heart out for those who can’t, to inspire those who dream, to prove anyone’s dream is possible, and to continue enjoying my life as I live my dream.

-Josh P.

Find Your Purpose

People ask me is s brain tumor diagnosis was the worst thing to happen to me. One may think so but to me, no way. It’s the best thing to happen to me! It opened my mind to be conscious of my life decisions and how they impacted my health. I have now made over my life to an organic, holistic diet and lifestyle. 

I used to ride for myself. I now ride for myself as well as those suffering or who have suffered from a brain tumor, brain injury or any other brain disorder. 

I ride because I love it, it’s my escape from negativity in my life, it’s my form of meditation and creativity, I’m fortunate enough to be able to ride and live my dream, and nowadays I ride to be a symbol that you can achieve success when you get knocked down in life. 

We are not defined by our past, mistakes, failures, the times we fell down, or what others think of us. We’re defined by our actions in this current moment in time and who we decide to be, as well as help along the way. A great leader inspires action/change, which is my goal. To get you inspired and motivated to achieve your goals, live your dreams, adopt healthy habits, love your brain, and live the life you dreamed of.

-Josh P.

Fox News Radio Interview

Back in March, FOX News Radio gave me the opportunity to share my story of overcoming multiple brain tumors and returning to BMX riding, which is more than a sport to me. It’s my passion, freedom, love and it has saved my life in more than one way.

I documented my experience via video, which you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/embed/NNlQzomuuF0

For the official FOX News Radio version (5 minutes), check it out here:

http://radio.foxnews.com/2016/05/11/extraordinary-bmx-extreme-biker-josh-perry-changes-a-death-sentence-into-his-destiny/

Here is an outline of the interview…Enjoy! 🙂

(0:25) Falling in love with BMX

(0:46) BMX as a career

(1:15) 17 years old and moves to Greenville, NC

(2:02) Self motivation

(2:40) Brain tumor diagnosis at 21 years old

(3:28) Day in my life with headaches from the tumor

(4:20) The day I was diagnosed with a brain tumor

(5:35) “BMX saved your life?”

(6:05) The trick I crashed and that saved my life- “Flair Whip”

(7:05) Back to BMX after brain surgery

(8:21) Physical and emotional changes in my life (Brain surgery, Gamma Knife radio surgery, and emotions)

(9:15) Having to except death

(11:20) Back to BMX after 1 week from Gamma Knife radio surgery

(12:04) “Our genes are not our destiny”

(14:00) Holistic Health Coach

(15:45) We are children of God, which makes us creators, too. We can do what we want if we set our minds to it.

(16:10) Follow me on social media & my blog. (@JoshPerryBMX / www.DailyBrainstorms.com

(16:35) Google is an amazing tool

(16:58) Kombucha

(17:18) Follow your dreams “Take a risk at something you love and fail rather than always wondering what if”

-Josh P.

Getting Back On My Bike After Three Brain Tumors

By Josh Perry, Special to Everyday Health

(http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/my-health-story/getting-back-bmx-three-brain-tumors/)

Seven years ago, I was sitting on top of the world. I was an otherwise regular 20-year-old kid from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, who had just won a major professional BMX (bike motocross) competition and had just participated in the most recent X Games — the Olympics of extreme sports. I was living my childhood dream and, needless to say, I was stoked.

Routine MRI Reveals Massive Tumor

Things changed forever several months later when I hit my head while riding. After the accident, I had a routine MRI scan, the results of which turned out to be anything but routine. The scan revealed a meningioma — a brain tumor growing from the outer linings of my brain and spinal cord — taking up the entire left side of my head.

After being told one variation of bad news after another, ranging from “You will never ride again” to “You won’t have long to live if this tumor is not immediately removed,” I was put in touch with neurosurgeon Allan H. Friedman, MD, at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. Dr. Friedman felt confident that he could remove the tumor and arranged to have my surgery scheduled immediately.

He explained that there were serious risks, including paralysis, loss of speech, blindness, hearing loss, stroke, and the ultimate risk: simply not waking up from the operation. The surgery involved putting me under heavy sedation and literally opening my skull. What could go wrong?

During a six-hour procedure, the tumor was successfully removed. Thankfully, I woke up pain-free and with a smile on my face, surrounded by the people I love most in the world: my parents; my brother, Danny; and my friends. I was alive, back on track, and more determined than ever.

I was lucky to have a quick recovery and was back to competitive BMX riding within two months. I learned — though it still seems almost impossible to fathom — that the skull can fuse back together in only four weeks following an operation like mine!

Two New Tumors Threaten Critical Artery

Before long, I had made a nearly full recovery and was riding professionally again. One of the best parts of my job is that I get to travel the world, and soon I found myself traveling to India to conduct bike demos and showcase BMX riding on behalf of my sponsor. The trip started off great, but once again things quickly went off the rails: I got an email from my mom saying the results from a recent MRI showed I had two new tumors in my brain. They were only the size of blueberries, but they were close to a critical artery and would need to be dealt with soon.

I was 8,000 miles from home, totally alone, and scared as hell. After feeling sorry for myself and repeatedly asking, “Why me?”, I decided that I wasn’t going to let the tumors take control of my life. I put my headphones on and imagined myself doing what I love most: riding ramps, pulling huge tricks, and feeling like I’m flying. I turned that fear, confusion, and devastation into the energy I needed to get past this latest challenge.

I consulted Dr. Friedman again. This time he suggested that a radiation-based treatment might be the best option because there were many potential complications of traditional surgery, and he was concerned about the tumors’ proximity to my artery.

Following a period of research, my family and I concluded that Gamma Knife radiosurgery, which delivers a high dose of radiation to a precise area without harming surrounding tissue, was the way to go. The procedure, I was told, is quick, painless, almost completely noninvasive, and has a short recovery time. Best of all, the neurosurgeon who performed the surgery, Julian K. Wu, MD, of Tufts Medical Center in Boston, told me that it was clinically proven and had a success rate of about 85 percent — odds that I could live with.

This ended up being a critical decision-making process in my life and really set the tone for how I approach health-related decisions today. We are all our own best health advocates and need to be champions for ourselves. In my case, many different neurosurgeons may have had completely different opinions about my course of treatment, but I knew this was the right path for me.

The procedure involved having a lightweight frame attached to my head to keep it still. Then I had a single treatment of radiation delivered to three different parts of my tumor.

Since the surgery required no incisions whatsoever, my recovery was even quicker than the first time, and I was back on my bike in only seven days, feeling like nothing had happened. But I’d be lying if I said my life wasn’t permanently changed.

From Surgery Patient to Health Coach

Dodging a bullet twice made me reevaluate life from all angles, and I became increasingly interested in the concept of holistic living and how nutrition decisions impact our overall health. In February 2014, I enrolled in the online Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and a year later received my certification as a holistic health coach.

I’m incredibly grateful to say that my story has had a happy ending. I’m busier than ever these days, splitting my time between BMX riding and helping others achieve their health and well-being goals.

A big part of my job is pushing myself to reach the next level, both physically and mentally. Pulling off big tricks, however, sometimes results in hard falls. If there’s one thing I’ve come to realize, it’s that the most important thing is to always be willing to get back on the bike and on with life. I’m pretty sure that’s why I’m still here. We can all relate to falling down, but the difference we can make in our lives is getting up and trying again.

Josh Perry is a 28-year-old pro BMX athlete who lives in Apex, North Carolina, and blogs at DailyBrainStorms

Photos provided by Josh Perry.

Last Updated: 6/8/2017

Men’s Health Q&A

How Do You Stay Fit And Healthy? Why Is It Important To You?

I stay fit and healthy by eating only the cleanest, organic and most beneficial foods to benefit my body, mind and health goals. This is reinforced by staying physically active on a daily basis, keeping a positive mindset no matter what life throws my way, living in an abundance of love and light and by dreaming big. The most important things to me in life are my health, happiness, family and friends, and my BMX bike riding.

What’s The Most Significant Challenge You Have Overcome In Your Life?

The most significant challenge I have had to face was overcoming 3 brain tumors, 2 separate times at the ages of 21 and 23. I still live every day with 2 tumors in my skull, but receive regular scans to ensure that they aren’t posing any additional risks. I refuse to let them stop me from enjoying my life to the fullest and doing what I love!

How Do You Give Back To Your Community/Friends/Family?

I give back to my community, friends, and family by openly sharing my experiences and what I have learned along the way. I am always reaching out as a support system and love sharing tips on how to eat well, become physically fit, think positively and dream big! I use my social media channels as a way to help inspire and motivate others to make changes in their day-to-day lives that will hopefully have a positive affect their health and overall well-being.

How Do You Measure Success—And How Have You Achieved It?

I measure success by happiness, health and the amount of effort required to achieve the two. No amount of money or materials can trump health and happiness. Personally, I believe I have achieved my view of success by overcoming several brain tumors and becoming the healthiest and happiest version of myself I have ever been. Professionally, I’ve been extremely fortunate to compete professionally in BMX with some of the best riders across the globe. That being said, I am always striving to improve myself and help others even more.

What’s The Best Advice You Have Ever Received?

The best advice I have ever received is that happiness comes from dreaming big, flying high and doing what you love. An important part of this is to always follow what my gut and heart tell me to do and let the rest follow naturally. I live by this advice.

-Josh P.

RIP, Pete O’Connell

There are no words for this situation in life and the only thing that keeps me sane is the fact that it’s a part of our human experience on this planet. A shitty part of our human experience.

I had been in touch with Pete O’Connell recently about how well he had been doing for himself and the changes he had adopted into his life. I was so proud of him for his efforts and his success.

We had caught up even sooner than that time to discuss Dave Mirra’s passing and how unbelievable that was to us. We grew up as teenagers together with a mutual love for BMX riding and, Dave Mirra. It hurt us both.

I had just recently just learned about, now, Pete’s passing, and I am at a loss for words. I just hope Pete is at peace now, surrounded by love and light.

RIP, buddy! I love you.

I Love You, Dave

Saying goodbye to anyone is never a happy moment in time. The sad truth of the matter is, that’s life. We can’t have “good” without “bad”. It’s just so real when it happens to a loved one in our lives and it hurts. 

Dave was more than a BMX legend to me. He impacted the lives of millions, including myself, to a degree I don’t think anyone would understand if they had never met Dave. He was inspiring, to say the least. On a daily basis, he pushed life to grow and progress. You could never not go big enough with life. That is where I started to catch on to what life meant to me.

Dave’s words before going into a life or death brain surgery, in 2010, taught me giving up was not an option. It’s how I have lived my life for years now and will continue to do so in his honor. It’s the base behind my tattoo “Fear is just a thought, thoughts can be changed”. When Dave told me I could something, on or off my bike, it empowered me to a level I thought anything was possible without fear.

Dave is my hero, as he is to many others. He was an incredible dad to his two daughters. He was an incredible friend who’d do what he could to help others. Dave had a huge heart and passion for his life and all that it contained.

Dave is the reason I took a second look at my life and thought “how could I be healthier and perform better on my bike”. He is the catalyst for my passion towards something other than my bike, which is a much larger scale than my bike, but towards my own health and happiness. It’s what has also given me courage through brain surgery and led me to protect my brain and the risks of improper lifestyle choices that can harm our brains.

Hitting your head has consequences and the reality of that is that it’s hard to accept. I’ve become very passionate about my brain and it’s thanks to guys like Dave and his influence in my life, in which I can’t explain, that have led me to seek out how to progress that aspect of my life and its importance. I’m forever thankful for that, Dave. 💚

I’ll always remember Dave as the hard working, passionate, most driven person I’ve ever met and my biggest role model. I’ll always remember the morning sessions in Greenville and my learning tricks or be trying ridiculous gaps because Dave said I could do it, or pushed me to do it because he had faith in me

It wasn’t until recently that I learned how much love and respect Dave had for me.  I asked Dave to lunch to talk about my goals for Bmx and my dreams that scared me. Dave was behind me 100% and told me I got it. That was all I needed to hear to learn once again we can do whatever it is we want in our lives. 

I can’t even put into words the amount of respect I have for that man. It’s a dream come true and an honor to call him my friend after working so hard to just meet him on my bike one day. When I can ride, I’m riding in Dave’s honor. I am going to go even bigger on and off my bike. 

I love you, Dave! Ride In Peace

Get Up & Try Again

If you have a dream, set a goal for that dream and do whatever it takes to make it happen. I had a dream to ride Bmx bikes like the pros that I looked up to as a child. I did/do whatever it takes to make that a reality.

Persistence, drive, determination, strength, courage, failure, success, patience, and focus are some of the things Bmx has taught me over the years. I’ve learned that successful people are not successful from hard work alone. It’s the times that they got back up after they fell and tried it again that led them to success. Success doesn’t have to look the same for everyone. To me, success is when every day you’re getting closer to your goals, which for me are always changing, and you’re happy and healthy.

I can’t express how much gratitude I have for this sport and all it has done to shape who I am, the people it’s introduced me to and relationships built, parts of the word it’s brought me to that I never fathomed possible, and all it’s taught me.

While filming for a split edit for Vital BMX with Nick Digeroloma in 2011, I tried this trick over and over for the last clip of the video. This was probably not the best day for trying to film a never been done trick as we were leaving for Dew Tour the following day, but determination and a bit of stubbornness took over and I kept at it. After a good amount of slams, I was so stoked to have pulled it!

https://www.youtube.com/embed/bQOdq2TFzTU

Here is the full video this clip was filmed for!

http://www.vitalbmx.com/videos/features/Josh-Perry-Nick-Digeroloma,29744/Josh-Perry,1234

-Josh P.

Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover

We have all been told this or we have all heard this at some point in our lives.  But do we really practice this outside of book covers?  I have found myself practicing this more and more in my day-to-day as the years go by.  I once was really closed minded and never thought there was a story behind the rude person at the store, the sad lonely person at school, or the quite shy kid at the action sports park.

I have come to realize we all have a story, some good and some bad.  Either way, our stories are what make us unique as an individual and what has shaped us into becoming who we are today.  We shouldn’t be ashamed of our story, we should embrace our story and use it to become the best version of ourselves as we possibly can.

You may think you know what’s going on based on your own perspective or information gathered, but this doesn’t make your opinion correct.  Let go of stubborn, ignorant judgments and open your mind and heart to realizing you’ll never know the whole story of another human being.

That’s what Daily Brainstorms is all about, sharing stories with the world to inspire and motivate others in their lives.  Not only have I, my mom, and other people shown tremendous courage, we have overcome unfathomable adversity with the drive to live life and do what we love.  My story is just the beginning of what’s to come with Daily Brainstorms.

Next time you find yourself criticizing or judging someone else, just remember we all have a story as to what makes us stand apart and what makes us unique.  Instead of making your own judgments, why don’t you ask them how they are doing or if they need a hand with something or a friend to talk to.  You may find this very rewarding and surprising.

Less judgments and more open mindedness and love.

-Josh P.

Mothers Day

Mothers day is a reminder of why we are on this earth and who is responsible for that. This article goes out to all the beautiful, loving, and supportive mothers out there. You’re all amazing in your own ways and if it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t be here. I want to thank all of you and express my gratitude for all that you do and let you know you’re appreciated.

What can you say about a mother who raised you on her own, did everything she could to give you the life she thought you deserved, and always put you before anything else? All I can say is that I love you mom and I am thankful for the life you have given me, the manner in which you raised me, and the person I have become because of you. You’re not only my inspiration, but you motivate me to be a good person on a daily basis and to try my best to treat others with the love and compassion you have shown me over the years.

My mom is one of those “happy go lucky” types of people. Anytime there is any form of negativity, she can be found with a smile on her face and a positive attitude towards whatever the situation may be. She has displayed this for the better part of decade or more as she has battled colon cancer with numerous surgeries, more than she or anyone deserves to go through, and radiation treatments. All this evolved into her having to have an ileostomy bag inserted, which will remain with her for the rest of her life.

This hasn’t stopped her one bit, though. She loves talking with others that have to go through similar situations and show them that life doesn’t stop or have to change. Of course, life may be a bit different now, but it can still be just as positive, if not more. She has gained a further appreciation for life and it’s helped give me the strength and positive mindset that I try and apply to my life. She is one tough human and I don’t know what I would have done for my surgery if I didn’t have her support, love, and courage that she has displayed over the years.

2010 Brain Surgery

2015 ACL Surgery

My mom is also one of those moms that keep her children in the dark regarding negative situations in her life. I moved away when I was 17 in pursuit of a childhood dream. She didn’t want her health to stop me from achieving my goals in life, so she didn’t tell me about things or nonchalantly told me about them. She, again, put my quality of life and happiness before her own. I wish I knew the severity of her situation back then, or could comprehend it, and was there for her more, but she didn’t want that. I, later on, learned how much she went through when I went through a similar situation with a surgery to remove a brain tumor.

She always supported my brother and me in whatever direction we wanted to follow in our lives. For my brother, it was hockey and specifically the position of goalie. He was a damn good goalie and was very passionate about his role on the team. For me, as you may already know, it was BMX. Before Danny started playing hockey, he would ride with me, too. My mom was so supportive of my passion for that BMX bike.

The 3 of us would take trips everywhere we could. Along with our first trip to NY when I was about 13, we took a week long trip to Woodward, PA when I was 14 so I could attend the action sports camp there. She was also always doing her best to keep up with replacing the parts on the bike that I was constantly breaking and the injuries I would sustain from me to time.

She, of course, loved me and didn’t want me to get hurt but she knew I loved it and it made me happy. She never wanted me to do something that didn’t make me happy and I am thankful for that. She knew injuries are inevitable in any sport and are a normal part of life, if you’re living life to the fullest. I always played school sports growing up but the joy I got from riding BMX was beyond anything I could ever acquire from basketball or baseball. Because of her support and encouragement, I have seen the world, made my dreams come true, overcome my own health adversities, and I have inspired many through my own personal health story.

Recently, she has been back in the hospital for some blockages, in what she has left of her intestines, from scar tissue build up from all the surgery over the years. I was thankful to have been visiting her for the better part of that month and spent every single day that I could with her in the hospital. I did my best to be there to support her and make her feel like things would be alright. It was difficult to see her in so much pain and to have tubes down her nose and IV’s hooked up to her. I am usually the one in that position, not my mom, and I don’t enjoy seeing my loved ones like that. I still wish I knew the severity of her situation in the past and understood it so I could have been there for her, but I am thankful to have been there this time.

Moms are like superhuman to the children. It’s their every lasting job to protect their young. That is just what my mom did all those years after I left “the nest” on my journey in life. She was so proud of my accomplishments, drive, and determination that she didn’t want to worry me. My happiness is what kept her strong through all the surgeries and is what kept me strong through mine. Knowing how much she went through and how much love and support she has for me is truly amazing.

If you have a mom, which if you’re reading this then obviously you do, make sure you appreciate her and let her know how much you respect and appreciate her. Not just on Mothers Day, but in general. No matter what your relationship is with her at the moment, it’s not worth it to not be appreciative of her and all she has done for you by giving you life. It’s also never too late, regardless if you’re on good terms or not. If your mom is no longer with you on this earth, I’m sorry and I send my best your way. You can still show your appreciation for her and let her know you love her.

Mom, I love you and I wish you the very best day. You and all the other moms deserve it. Not just today, but every day. Thank you for all you do and continue to be you! I love you!

-Josh P.