You Are What You Eat

Wow,  over 7,500 words later and part 4 of my story is here!

Make sure to read part 1, part 2, and part 3 before continuing any further. 🙂

I thank you for your interest and support in reading about my story. When I started this blog I originally just wanted to write something to celebrate it being 5 years since my brain surgery in 2010.

It’s crazy to think back to a time in your life when you thought your life may actually end. I know it’s inevitable and that we are all going to die one day but when your 21,  just starting your dream career and loving life, this can be very traumatic and life altering. If you’ve been reading along then you know that I took the experience of having surgery for a large meningioma brain tumor taking up the left section of my brain (followed by Gamma Knife radiation 2 years later for 2 smaller brain tumors) and turned it into fuel for living and advocating a healthy, happy, and positive life.

I left off in part 3 with my return to BMX after Gamma Knife radiation treatments at the end of 2012.  A follow-up MRI scan (6 months later in May of 2013) from the Gamma Knife radiation treatment showed the 2 tumors to be stabilized. They said that this is great news and that people live normal lives after Gamma Knife with their tumors being stabilized.

The next scan in November of 2013 showed a slight decrease in one of the tumors. The following years MRI in October of 2014 showed even better news, both areas were now decreasing! I was so stoked but it’s weird at times to think about having tumors in your skull still. It’s a pretty wild and unexplainable feeling, especially when your ride BMX for a living.

It’s driven me crazy at times with different aspects of my life including, diet, health, family, friends, and BMX. Over time, this led me to go crazy with my diet and lifestyle. I would try to be “perfect” in order to keep the tumors from growing back. I would begin to dive into nutrition and biology for a more in-depth understanding of the effects that food has on our bodies.

All that I learned about sugar (artificial and natural), chemicals (flavorings, colors, stabilizers, etc.), preservatives, and GMO’s along with their ability to fuel diseases, scared me beyond belief. It made me a stress case and definitely negatively affected areas of my life, like my relationship with Charlotte. I have since gained an enormous amount of perspective on how this was controlling my life. I decided to not let it control me anymore and I’ve never felt better. They’re some things I wish I could take back and fix, but that’s a part of life. We’re human and must learn from our mistakes in order to grow and sometimes what we want may become a reality again.

Food Matters

As I mentioned previously, I started to really dive into nutrition after having brain surgery. What sparked this interest, later becoming a passion and huge part of my life, was the film “Food Matters“. Charlotte and I watched this video on Netflix with the recommendation from a good friend of mine and fellow BMX athlete, Craig Mast.  A little lightbulb in my head turned on after watching Food Matters. I’m not saying that the cause of the brain tumor was 100% my diet, even though I know it didn’t help it and in fact it fueled the growth, but I was convinced at this point it was the cause and I would do what I could to learn how to prevent it from coming back.

The Power of Food

Up until this point, I never heard of the phrases “whole foods” or “processed foods”. Little did I know I had been introduced to whole foods all along, thanks to Charlotte. Now, I don’t mean to say I wasn’t eating copious amounts of processed foods on top of those meals because I was. If it wasn’t for Charlotte’s amazing cooking, my diet would have solely been made up of 2-liter of Dr. Pepper/day, swiss cake rolls and oatmeal pies, Skittles and Twix, Mc Donald’s, Sonic blizzards, Subway as my “healthy” option, Taco Bell, frozen chicken patties from Walmart, Bojangles, the cheapest white bread I could find, tons of Gatorade because “we need electrolytes”, 2 boxes of Kraft mac and cheese at a time, American cheese, ketchup, and the list goes on. My relationship with food consisted of how cheap it was, how much I could eat, how “good” it tasted to me, and how easy it was to make or grab on the go.

While in high-school I started to get more into BMX and that involved a lot more travel than usual. This also meant less time for me to have dinner with the family or cook myself meals. Now that I look back on it, it was just due to my ignorance of how healthy food can be convenient and easy to make. I would basically live off fried egg and cheese sandwiches on white bread for breakfast, school lunch which usually consisted of pizza or burgers, a butterfingers smoothie after school and before riding, and Wendy’s for dinner after riding on my way home. Sometimes for dinner, I would ride down the road from the park to the local 7-11 and get a ton of hot dogs and a can of Arizona iced tea. Dominos pizza was always a cheap favorite as well.

Diets and Cravings

After I moved to Greenville, Brandon and myself started to take note of what Mirra and Guettler were doing with their diets, supplements, and their training. We would start going to the gym, buying generic protein mixes, and try to eat more vegetable and fruits. I would also try all these “cold turkey” attempts to cut out soda, dairy, fast-food, etc. but it would always backfire and lead to me being worse off with the amount I consumed than before. I have since learned quite a bit about this topic and have had great success.

When we cut foods out drastically like I did, we don’t allow our bodies time to adjust to the changes. Mainly, the sugar abundance change. I was eating so much processed foods, full of added sugars, that I was consistently having an enormous amount of glucose (blood sugar) lingering around. When you cut those added sugars, even it’s from juices, candy, junk, fast-food, soda, sports drinks, or processed foods so rapidly, your body goes through a withdrawal process and your cravings begin to skyrocket. I have experienced this many times over the years as well as have researched a bit into it.

Another thing that leads to backfires and cravings is putting eating restrictions on ourselves. Saying “I can’t have this or that” makes us want it that much more. But when we say, “I can have that but I would rather have this”, we don’t create this “forbidden fruit” effect on our minds. We can shift our perspective to food  being “bad” and “good” to being “healthy” and “not so healthy” that way we give ourselves the choice. We can also learn to shift our relationship with foods. We can acknowledge why we are craving particular foods and learn how to replace junk with whole food alternatives. This is so rewarding physically (especially with healing from injuries and the recovery process), mentally, and emotionally.

IIN (The Institute of Integrative Nutrition)

I was trained how to help others implement healthy changes into their diet and lifestyle while attending the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. There I became certified as a Holistic Health Coach. I went to IIN to learn more about nutrition and its correlation with our health, how to heal myself, and how to help others do the same. That is where I learned about the holistic approach to health and using food as functional medicine.

What does this mean? It’s simple… We are a system and when that system is interrupted, symptoms manifest. These symptoms (weight gain, inflammation, rashes, diabetes, cancer, etc.) are largely caused, if not 100% at times, from what we do with our lives and the foods we consume. There are the minor instances of gene related disease, but that’s only about 25% of disease in our country. When we look at what we are eating and doing in our lives, and how these symptoms could be caused, we can then correct the cause and heal our bodies.

It was the end of 2013 and I was on a roll with researching nutrition and holistic health. I was reading books and watching documentaries, as well as taking a whole ton of notes. I was trying to understand how the food we eat directly affects our health and quality of life. I have learned that our health is affected by what we fuel it with, physically and mentally. Think of our body as a vehicle and using soda in replace of gasoline. Doesn’t work out too well and may run ok for a bit but then problems arise.

The lives we lead are just as important as the foods we eat. The founder of my school, Joshua Rosenthal, said something along these lines,  “You can juice all the raw organic broccoli you want, but if you have a negative relationship at home, hate your job and co-workers, and don’t have anything to fuel your soul within your life, no amount of organic juice is going to keep you healthy.” That is so true and I have experienced this so much in my life.

Whether it’s shifting my perspective on a situation that confronts me in my life, mending a negative relationship, or finding things I am passionate about to integrate into my regular life schedule, I have seen enormous improvements with my physical and emotional being. IIN refers to this as “Primary Food” and “Secondary Food”. Primary food being the things in our lives like careers, relationships, joy, finances, creativity, etc. When we are full of Primary food, we start to see cravings vanish and people said to have an eating disorder are miraculously cured.

Secondary foods are vegetables, meats, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, water, vitamins or even alcohol, drugs, caffeine, candy, soda, cigarettes, etc. Basically, anything we eat, drink, or inhale is considered secondary food. Sometimes we can have a 100% organic, fresh, local diet but our social life, finances, education, or work are not going well and that has a larger impact on our lives.

Stress can do more damage than the healthy food you consume does good sometimes. It can also work the other way. Think back to being a child out playing with your friends or siblings and having to be reminded to eat dinner. Your primary food was so on point that your body and mind were fueled so well that you were not hungry for secondary food. You had to be reminded to make sure to eat.

Small Changes Lead to Long-term Success

Try to identify the areas of your Primary and Secondary food that are going well. Then, identify the areas that you can improve on and make a list of some ideas of how to make this happen. Start by first identifying the issue, then outline a specific goal to resolve this issue, and then make a list of 3-5 “action steps”, or a plan of attack, to allow yourself to start the journey to accomplishing your goals. I have learned this indirectly from BMX while having to set goals for tricks and steps to work my way up to that trick.

Starting off with small steps is perfectly fine. In fact, I suggest that at first. You have to also remember no accomplishment is too small and to celebrate every single accomplishment and success. Another great quote I love is, “If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” This has been a game changer for me. Instead of dwelling on what’s wrong or what I am not accomplishing, I have begun to shift my way of thinking to how I can change my approach and execution to reach my goals. I have seen huge improvements in my diet and life by doing this and I have faith you can, too!

“When given half the chance, our bodies can heal themselves by themselves.” – Joshua Rosenthal

Quality Over Quantity

Another topic I want to touch upon is how we view our food. I find most people view it as their comfort or their “have to have.” We depend on certain foods for the effect they have on us and the way they make us feel. But, we don’t think about their quality and how it affects our health. We mainly think, “how much can I save on this or that brand.” I used to do this, probably more than most as I was 17-19 years old, trying to make it as a professional BMX athlete, and was low on money. When we work on reducing our intake of junk and processed foods, we allow ourselves to introduce new healthy foods, crowding out the junk, as well as we don’t over eat poor quality foods that just run through our bodies from lack of nutrition being supplied.

At the same time, we begin to see how different sources of food affects our energy, weight, mood, and much more. Eating healthy DOES NOT HAVE TO BE EXPENSIVE! You just need to learn how to identify healthy food from non-healthy food and how to make a balanced meal that tastes delicious to you. That’s where health coaches, like myself, come into play. My role as a Holistic Health Coach is to guide you through your journey to learning about food and the role it has in your life, how it’s affecting your health and quality of life, and to devise a step-by-step plan to integrate small changes that provide long-lasting results. Nothing like the normal “diets” you’re familiar with that are not sustainable or enjoyable.

When I use the analogy of our bodies as a machine or a vehicle, and that the food we eat becomes our fuel, tissues, muscles, cells, and organs (gasoline, engine, parts, oil, etc.), we can start to understand and see how that makes sense. Especially when I explain the negative effects of the use of additives like hormones, antibiotics, artificial flavors, stabilizers, colors and dyes, and pesticides.

There are two forms of food you will see me talk about in future articles to come, which are Macro and Micro nutrients. We’re most familiar with the macro nutrients. These are our proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, which provide calories (fuel) for our bodies among other functions. Micronutrients are our vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that don’t provide calories but provide nourishment to our cells, tissues, organs, and our blood.

If this is the first time you have had your view of food and health questioned, and you want to make some changes, then I recommend starting slow. Try these steps:

  1. Find support within your life. This can be a friend, a life partner, a co-worker, or a family member. Anyone that will encourage you and maybe even try to implement healthy changes along side you.
  2. Try to drink more water every day.
  3. You don’t have to cut anything out. Just add in some more vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. You may start to notice over time with adding healthy foods in that your cravings subside and you find yourself not even wanting the “junk” foods anymore.
  4. Take notice to ingredients lists, instead of labels, and compare them to other brands. See what you notice about the length on ingredients and the words you find that you may not notice or even be able to pronounce.
  5. Try preparing simple and quick foods at home for your day and eat out a bit less. This saves you money as well!
  6. Try to add in at least 30 minutes of some sort of physical movement a day. This can be a 15-minute walk and back, bike ride, hike, sports of some sort, yoga, going to a gym, etc. Anything that gets your blood flowing and heart rate up more than normal.
  7. Try to acknowledge your cravings and shift the way you view food and what it represents to you.
  8. Never be afraid to ask for help from an expert. I have invested in myself with proper training and nutritional education to be able to help myself and help others as a Certified Holistic Health Coach. It’s my passion to take what I have learned and experienced and share it with you.

We have to remember that we can not rush this process. We can’t get down on ourselves if we have setbacks or don’t notice improvements right away. First of all, we have to think about how long we have been living and eating one particular way to put ourselves in a position that we want to change and improve on. We can not expect it to be easy or happen overnight.

We can’t beat ourselves up if we fall off track or have a slip-up and indulge at a party or in a moment of loneliness, stress, or even success. If we remember that we have the power to get back on track with the very next snack or meal, everything will be fine! Stressing over eating something “bad” will do more harm than enjoying that moment and getting back on track the next time. We are human and have a lot of temptation around us at all times. If we want to have ice cream, fast-food, a soda, or even a beer, then go ahead. As long as you can acknowledge that it’s your choice and not your cravings. Even if that’s not possible,  try to learn to take note of why you’re doing this and how you can prepare for next time this feeling or scenario comes up.

Our health and weight are also not 100% dependent on exercise. Exercise does help assimilate food better, though. About 20-30% of our weight is actually dependent on exercise and the other 70-80% is the food we choose to eat. All food has a different biological effect once ingested and metabolized. This is why working with a health coach, like myself, is very helpful to see how we may be getting in our own way by doing what we are taught is ”healthy” and falling for marketing/ health claims like I have done in the past (another topic I will discuss in a future article).

I also recommend watching “Food Matters”, “Food Inc.”, and “Fed Up”. Those can be life changing films for you, as they were for me.

If you can try to adapt some of these changes, I promise it’ll go a long way. You may even see the benefits associated with this concept and take it even further. You will probably start to feel better in the morning and on your bike or in your life in general. I sure have and I have faith you will, too!

I go for another MRI scan this November of 2015 and I am confident that both tumors will be decreasing even more. I have taken what I learned while attending IIN and have implemented this valuable information in so many areas of my life. I have begun to work on goals with my Primary food and have got a great balance on my Secondary food. I have kept a positive mindset and worked hard to get to where I want to be and am thankful for all that this handwork has down for my life and the people and opportunities it has led me to.

I am not saying it’s easy or that I maintain this 100% of the time. Again, it’s not about being perfect but allowing yourself to make mistakes, forgive yourself, and to know that you can always get back on track. If you can do this while loving yourself and supporting yourself, it can truly be life changing.

You can reach out to me for support by leaving a comment to connect. I love helping others take control of their diets and lifestyles to lead a healthy and happy life. If I can make the changes I have addressed, anyone can. Seriously!

Keep an eye out for more articles in the near future. They are going to be a bit shorter but equally exciting and informative. In my next article, I plan to introduce my goals, topics, and plans for this blog.

Feel free to reach out and follow me on my social media outlets, too:

Twitter & Instagram – @JoshPerryBMX

Until next time, I wish everyone health, love, and happiness!

-Josh P.


Welcome back, fellow brainstormers!

I am honored to continue sharing my story with all of you! If you missed part 1 or part 2, please make sure to check those out first. 🙂

By now you probably know where this article will be taking us- radiation for 2 new tumors in my skull. I left off talking about returning from the Bahamas in September of 2012 for a birthday cruise with Charlotte. The month of November would be a very hectic, yet rewarding, month leading into radiation treatments for the 2 new tumors in my brain.

I was stoked to start the month off by winning the Trans Jam pro park contest stop of Greenville, NC along with street best trick and pro park overall champion! I was more stoked to collect some custom made trophies from one of my BMX idols, Mike Laird! Best of all, both Charlotte and my mom were there to see me ride and celebrate.

A few days later I would be back on a long flight to India along with my buddy Nick Digeroloma. We were heading back with Scott Wirch and Spencer Bass to do another week of demos for a company called “Thumbs Up” that’s owned by Coca Cola Inc. The first trip to India was wild and I was grateful to get the opportunity to check it out again. Due to food poisoning or some type of bacterial infection from the previous trip, I was very reluctant and cautious to eating any sort of food. I thankfully made it out fine this go around. I will have to write a separate article dedicated to both of my wild India adventures.

I think I flew back to the states on the day before or the day of my birthday. I know I had flown back from Saudi Arabia the year prior on my birthday. That year I actually walked into my house, with 3 minutes left on my birthday, to a house full of candles, a cake, and Charlotte waiting for me wrapped in a bow. She may not like me sharing that part but I don’t care, I absolutely loved it! I was beyond happy to come home to this. Even though I forgot my keys and the door was locked, sort of ruining her surprise, I still thoroughly enjoyed the gesture. It was the best way to return to America for the last 3 minutes of my birthday. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

This year’s birthday would go a bit different. Char had planned a surprise birthday party at my favorite sushi joint in Greenville- Japan Inn. We were guided into the party room where we would be greeted by all our close friends that were in town, an amazing ice cream Reese’s cake, and SUSHI!

The next day we would start the 12-hour drive to my dad and step mothers house on Cape Cod, MA. I was born and raised on Cape Cod until I made the move to Pro Town USA, Greenville, NC,  when I was about 17. We wanted to get there in time for Thanksgiving (the following day), chill with my dads side of the family, and check out the Cape a bit.

I had also planned a day trip with Charlotte, Brandon, and Craig (who happened to have moved from Greenville to Maine recently) to meet up with Liam and Scott Criv. I wanted to film an edit and shoot some photos at Rye Airfield Skatepark in Rye, NH. Rye has always been one of my favorite places to ride in New England. I made trips there as much as possible with friends once I got my license.

I was determined to have some content come out while I was in recovery. I didn’t want to be known as the rider that got brain tumors, twice, and wasn’t going to ride anymore. I wanted to have something to let people know I wasn’t going anywhere and would get past this and ride again. Liam did an awesome job on the video and I was stoked to get some dialed shots from Scott. Big shout out to Beau at Rye Airfield for always supporting me at Rye!

The next day, Charlotte and I left for Tufts Medical Center in Boston. Brandon let us stay with him and his chick Marian right outside of Boston. We left their place real early the next morning. We drove and parked at the public train parking lot and took the T into the city. I used to do that when I was younger and it was always pretty fun!

We checked into the hospital to get my blood work and paper work done. Dr. Julian Wu explained how Gamma Knife radiation works and the possible side-effects, along with the success rates. The success rate is about 85%. Elekta did an amazing job with this machine and I can’t thank them enough for all their support! They would follow up with me in the years to come for a few different published interviews and a live Skype meet and greet for their employee Christmas party at their Sweden headquarters!

Lsskell Gamma Knife is a pretty wild technology. Its virtually in-invasive, painless, and the most precise treatment of radiation for tumors with minuscule damage to surrounding tissue.

The next thing on the to do list was confirming my appointment time for the next morning. Apparently once we were finished they also told me to go talk with the Gamma Knife department and learn about the procedure. Charlotte and I both missed that part as we made our way to the Museum of Science

I don’t remember anything else on our minds other than going to the science museum and getting some food! (A great common interest that Char and I share, our love for quality and delicious food!) We were both so excited to go to the museum and nerd out on science. That is something I have always enjoyed sharing with Charlotte, our fascination with science, facts, and nature. She expresses it with her hair stylists skills and mixing colors, and I express it with my passion for holistic nutrition and health.

The next day we would check in around 5-6 am. They got me right in as the first patient that day and started an IV on me. That is when reality really kicked in. Even though I was confident about our decision for Gamma Knife, I was still having to deal with tumors in my skull again and this time going through radiation treatments. I remember sitting in the waiting room talking with Charlotte and her assuring me everything would be ok. She has always been great with making me feel confident and safe in these situations.

They would then attach a frame to my head by anchoring 4 screws into my skull, which the year after my treatment is when they got rid of the frame for an updated technology. I was glad I missed the appointment the day before where they would explain this to me. If I knew about this the night before I probably would have been up searching for photos and videos like the original surgery out of curiosity. (I am told I’m crazy, haha.) They used this for accurate measurements with a sort of bowl they would temporarily attach to the frame. It was like one of that salon hair drying bowls you see an old woman sitting in with hair rollers but with tons of small holes in it. They used the holes to enter in measurement sticks all over my head.

All in all, it was not bad. There was no pain whatsoever. I only got nauseous for a moment when they initially were installing the frame because even though you couldn’t feel the set screws being installed, your head still shook from the procedure and you could hear the drill. Again, I felt nothing because I was numbed up but it was still unpleasant for the short amount of time it took. I usually never get nauseous for this type of situation but it was early, I had an empty stomach, and my emotions were going crazy. After it was finished being installed, the nauseous feeling went right away.

The treatment was done in an MRI type of looking machine. They clipped me into a headboard I was laying down on, via the head frame they had just attached, that took me into the machine. They clip you in with the head frame to assure no movements and absolute precise measurements for treatments. There were 3 sessions of treatments at 15 minutes, 10 minutes, and another 15 minutes. It was painless and silent. Nothing like an MRI. Haha, if you have had an MRI you know what I am talking about.

We drove back to NC right after treatments and I was on the road to recovery. To my surprise, the recovery would only be about 7 days. I basically just had to wait until the incisions from the frame healed as long as I felt fine. I was back on my bike in about a week and felt like nothing ever happened.

I took this photo on my day back. I remember how damn good it felt to sprint at this 10-foot quarter pipe and just blast this tuck no hander! That is the thing I have always loved about BMX, the feeling you get while flying in the air; the frustration of not landing a trick and then the gratification when you finally land it; the feeling you get after you slam to the ground from unfathomable heights, for most people, and bounce back up like nothing happened because how determined you are to get the trick; the feeling you get when your focused on something that you know has the risk of seriously hurting yourself, but you don’t think about that because all your thinking about is how awesome it’ll feel to ride away after you pull it; and the feeling you get when you see the clip of something you finally pulled after hours of trying it, sometimes days, or the finished product of a video project. That is why I love BMX!

After I was back on my bike from Gamma Knife, I filmed with Dan Foley for one of my favorite videos that were featured on Vital BMX.

I wanted to film a solid video to let people know I wasn’t going anywhere and I wanted to step up my game, too! I had a checklist of things to film, saving the scariest one for last. I got it all done and some! Foley is amazing at what he does and I was stoked on how the video came out. I was also shooting with Cody York for an ESPN feature at the same time.

Shortly after the video was released Garden of Life, Barleans fish oil and I connected. I was getting more into nutrition and holistic health after radiation. I went to the local Vitamin Shoppe and told them I was looking for clean and organic supplements, Without hesitation, they put me onto Garden of Life and Barleans, and I’m thankful to have found them. I’m also grateful to be a part of such amazing brands that share the same views as I do and for their love and support over the years.

In May, Dan Foley and I filmed a quick interview/riding video for Vital. The video briefly ran through the initial surgery, Gamma Knife, my road to recovery and getting back to normal (riding and mentality wise).

Following the release of the Vital video was Dew Tour Ocean City, MD. I was excited to be invited to compete but also couldn’t shake having flashbacks from the year before. (Read more about why here.) Todd Meyn and I made the drive from Greenville, along with Rob Daren (another BMX legend I look up to and am grateful to call a friend and have ridden so many years with), to Ocean City.

I rode well but I fell in my second run and messed up my bike. (I had to borrow a bike, Morgan Wade’s bike for my third run and I was stoked to do a Superman whip on his bike. Morgan does that trick better than anyone and he’s the reason I learned that trick.) I was just stoked to be riding and have walked away from the contest on my own two feet this time.

I ended the year with a very grateful and hard earned 2nd place at Mirra’s Animal House Goodbye Jam.

Daniel Dher’s had taken over the warehouse for a bit once Dave stopped riding. He would then go on to open up DDASC in Holly Springs, NC but first, he wanted to throw a contest/jam in Dave’s honor. I am so thankful for Dave allowing me to ride his facility all these years. I wouldn’t be the rider I am today if it wasn’t for that opportunity along with him and Mike Laird pushing me on a regular basis.

Now that I look back on 2013, there is so much more I can add in here. Good and bad.

That’ll have to wait until next time.

I am sharing my story to hopefully inspire you to have faith in yourself and have the courage to face any challenge that presents itself. A support group is crucial but at the end of the day, you posses the power to set your mind to accomplishing anything your heart desires.

The way I see it, you have two choices when bad times arise. You can either do the hard thing and face it head on, full of optimism, positivity, and courage. Or, you can take the easy way out and loose hope or give up.

I know some of you out there may have had worse things happen to you, and maybe not so much for others. The same principal still holds true.

Keep your head up. Be strong. Don’t give up! Stay positive and have faith in yourself to beat whatever demon is in your way.

If I can do it, surely you can too!

-Josh P.

Resist – Recover – Ride

Welcome back!

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.




  1. to rise above or go beyond; overpass; exceed.
  2. 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…

-Josh P.

My Life Almost Ended 7 Years ago

Hello, everyone! My name is Josh Perry and I’m a professional BMX athlete, a multiple brain tumor survivor who lives with 4 brain tumors, and a Certified Holistic Health Coach. I love what I do. I love to learn about food and its role in our health and quality of life. I also love helping to inspire others to take control of their diet and lifestyle choices to lead a healthy and happy life.

I originally wrote a version of this while on a C-130 in Iraq in March of 2011. I envisioned this being an article for Ride BMX magazine but it never made it that way. While flying with a crew of riders and skaters to Baghdad, for our next performance for the troops, reality kicked in and I was inspired to at least write what came to mind and how I felt. I have severely altered this post over the last few years but it still holds truth to the initial spark of inspiration.

So, here it goes….

Ever since I first saw x games on television, all I wanted to do was ride BMX bikes. All throughout childhood I was always asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. My answer was always a professional BMX bike rider. I had been on a bike ever since I can remember. My mom says I was about 3 or 4. She tells stories of me coming down the driveway hill on a plastic tricycle and jumping off last minute into the grass yelling, “BAIL!!!”.

I had always found ways to jump things with my old bike that was not intended for tricks. A sheet of plywood on a cinder block, some dirt on a log I managed to dig up, or other obstacles I could find around the neighborhood. I slowly ventured to the skateparks with my bike and discovered reliable obstacles (ramps) to ride on. This was a game changer.

For Christmas one year, my dad bought me my first BMX bike. It was a Haro “Backtrail” which was a Ryan Nyquist (the rider I saw on TV that inspired me to ride) pro model bike. From then on I was hooked.

Once I got into high school I stopped playing school sports and pursued BMX to the fullest. I was always missing school for contests in other states or on road trips with my older friends. I even worked out a deal with my gym teacher, which happened to be my last class of the day, to skip his class to leave school early and go ride. He gave me an A as long as I provided him with a riding video to show I was really being active and following my dream.

Growing up in middle school and high school I did pretty well with my grades. But, teachers put me down for my immense interest in BMX.  I was always told, “you’re never going to succeed at bike riding and need to study and get a real job”. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have had my book lined with BMX magazines or, had been drawing ramp set-ups in my notebooks instead of taking notes. Funny thing is, I did succeed and I have seen more of the world than most of them can say they have. I don’t mean this to sound cocky or disrespectful but if it weren’t for that bike of mine, I wouldn’t have been to countries like Iraq, Saudi Arabia, India, Spain, France, etc. I not only got to walk on the land of countries we learned about in school, I got paid to ride my bike in those countries and had experiences that can’t be taught.

I got to see the places we all learn about in school and actually got to touch the ground of those places. I got to experience the culture and learn way more than being in a classroom looking at it in a book or, listening to a teacher describe a place they may or may not have been to. I have seriously had my view on life, and what we take for granted on a daily basis (like clean running water), turned around 180 degrees. Being able to spend time in these other countries, and observe how they eat and live, is truly amazing.

Today marks 5 years that I had to have my skull cut open to remove a benign, meningioma brain tumor that took up the left side of my brain. It was growing into my brain from a layer of my skull called the meninges and it was pushing down on my optic nerve. This was giving me the craziest headaches and making me go blind. I remember the headaches being so bad and feeling so nauseous from the pain, that I had to have my friend Johnny Deadwyler drive me to the Urgent Care because I couldn’t drive.

It wasn’t until I hit my head while riding one day,

and had to get an MRI, that I would learn I had a tumor growing in my skull. I remember that feeling of being told, “there is something in your brain that doesn’t belong there. It’s a brain tumor. We don’t know if it’s cancerous or benign, but we do know your life depends on its removal.” I don’t know if anyone can relate to being told something as catastrophic as this and the feeling that comes along with it, but it is something I don’t wish on anyone. I instantly felt my world turn upside down. I couldn’t speak and the more the Urgent Care doctor spoke, the more everything went silent and tunnel vision set in. I couldn’t sit there and had to move. I got up and just walked out. I think I remember people yelling my name to stop but I didn’t care. At that moment in time, I believed my life was over and I had to get out of that room.

I went into my truck and just sat there in shock. Reality finally set in and tears just rolled down my face. I was just sitting there, alone, thinking this is it and I am about to die. I finally reached my goal as a professional BMX athlete. I won my first pro contest (and best trick to win a Harley) a year prior, rode in X-games for the first time, was approaching my 3rd or 4th year on the Dew Tour, and I felt I was on top of the world. I remember thinking, “Well, shit. Who do I tell? Do I tell anyone? What do I do with my things and money? Do any of these things even matter? Am I going to be alive long enough to do anything else? Will I ever get to ride my bike again?”

The first thing that came to mind was that I had to call and tell my mom. I called and she answered but I just sat there. I opened my mouth and tried to speak but nothing came out. I tried a few times and still nothing. She said my name and kept saying, “what’s wrong, Josh.” It’s a mother’s internal instinct to know something is wrong without words being spoken. She knew something was wrong. I then just started to ball my eyes out and finally said, “Mom, I just had an MRI and I have a brain tumor. I don’t know what to do.” Silence followed this statement as we both had no clue of what to say. I followed our phone call up with a text to my girlfriend at the time, Charlotte Boxley, and best friend, Brandon Christie. Brandon was right around the corner. He came and drove around with me to keep me company. We basically just drove around listening to music, both balling our eyes out and expressing how much we meant to one another.

This was also a crazy time for Charlotte and I because we were not officially “together” yet. We had been hanging out and doing our thing for about 3 months at this point. Charlotte is an amazing human being and was there for me every step of the way. From that day on, she never left my side and I am so thankful for her and me to have had our lives come together.

I remember being prescribed pain meds after one appointment. I don’t do well with those at all but I was in so much pain that I took them on our drive home. I think it was about 15 seconds until I felt a nauseous feeling approaching and asked Charlotte to pull over. As she pulled over I projectile vomited all on the floor mat and basically fell out in my efforts to keep it out of the truck. I was vomiting so much, and harshly, that blood started to show. This scared the shit out of me. Turned out it was just a burst blood vessel and very common. I remember feeling so bad and saying, “I am so sorry, I promise I will clean it up.” I was full of so many emotions and not sure why embarrassment was one of them. Charlotte was of course so chill about it, that really helped me in this time. I felt so vulnerable and weak but she always made me feel better.

The first doctor told me I wouldn’t be able to ride ever again. He followed that up with explaining that I  wouldn’t have long to live if it wasn’t immediately removed. Later on, after seeing Doctor Allan H.Friedman of Duke University, the best neurosurgeon in the world, he was confident in that he could remove the tumor. He had my surgery date scheduled immediately and the hospital actually had to reschedule other patients with not as severe tumors as mine to get me in ASAP. Dr. Friedman informed me of the risks of such a surgery and they were no joke. He said I could not wake up, may have to have shunts put in, or I could wake up paralyzed, blind, deaf, and or have a stroke.

On April 16th of 2010, after a 6-hour surgery, Dr. Friedman successfully removed the tumor and it was said to be a benign (non-cancerous) tumor. This was great news and thankfully I woke up pain-free with a smile on my face. Not because of all the intense drugs I was hooked up to but because I was able to see, hear, smell, talk, and move. I saw my parents first, followed by Charlotte and my brother Danny.

I was amazed to have no pain, be alive and able to hear, see, and move my body. I recovered extremely well and was let go 2 days after surgery. They said this was very uncommon and I owe every bit of my strength to BMX, Charlotte, my parents, the rest of my family, friends, the BMX community, and all the great people out there that expressed their love and support to me whether or not they knew me.

5 weeks later I was back on my bike. It started off slowly and frustration began to kick in. Not only because how “off” I was feeling, with coordination and balance, but because my friend and physical trainer Trish Bare Grounds was not allowing me to get too ahead of myself.  At this point, it was still very fresh and I was ordered to not let my tires leave the ground. That changed after some arguing that I was fine and convincing to allow me to do a barspin onto the deck of the ramp followed by a tailwhip. This went on for a few hours and I finally settled for what I already had done.

I think it was about 10 weeks later I was back on a plane to Europe to compete in a contest that I had qualified for the finals. Sine then, I have continued to film videos, ride contests, perform for BMX demos and shows, and have found a new passion for nutrition and holistic healthcare. I love sharing my story with others in hopes of inspiring them to live life to the fullest.

Point to my story is I that I had a dream that consumed my life. Even though I was always told by others that I wouldn’t succeed, and I was faced with life or death obstacles, my friends and family stuck by me and I made my dream come true! When the day comes that I can’t ride as much anymore, and decide to move onto something else, I won’t be bummed because of all that I have done and experienced in my lifetime. I’ve accomplished my one and only goal as a child of becoming a pro BMX athlete and in doing so; I have gained other passions and goals to work towards achieving.

So I want anyone reading this to never doubt yourself. Take any opportunities that arise and stick to what you want in life, no matter who tells you that you can’t do it! It’s a miracle we are living human beings and so many people take that for granted. They end up limiting themselves to what others think they should do, rather than pursue what makes them happy and fuels their soul. You never know who or what may come into your life for following your heart. It’s inevitable that you’re going to make mistakes along the way. You and others may get hurt, but what’s important is that you learn from these mistakes and continue to grow into the person you want to be.

I’m grateful to be here today, still riding my bike and sharing my passion for BMX and nutrition with others. I can’t thank all of you enough for the get well wishes, support, and love over the last few years! Don’t let any challenges in life bring you down or stop you from pursuing your dreams. Don’t give up and don’t be scared. Live your life!

So now go ride your bike, or do whatever it is that makes you happy, and just enjoy life without fear! Take care and don’t stop dreaming!

-Josh P.

(Written: April 16th, 2015)

(Updated: June 7th, 2017)