The Story of the Disconcerting Brain Scan or First Hand Schooling in Hume’s Problem of Induction

July 4, 2016


(Wipe that smug look off your face!)

On June 23rd, Holly and I went in for my quarterly MRI check-up. I laid perfectly still on the MRI table for the usual 20-minute scan before they added a contrast to my veins and scanned for another 10-minutes. When the scan was finished we went upstairs to my neuro-oncologist to get the results, assuming they would be the identical “all-clear” that we were used to over the past two years. It turned out to be a classic example of  my homie David Hume’s problem of induction, “That the sun will not rise tomorrow is no less intelligible a proposition…than the affirmation, that it will rise.” We just weren’t expecting anything this soon. Lesson learned, Mr. Hume. Lesson learned.

Turns out there was a tiny bit in my brain that was taking up contrast and lighting up. Holly knew something was up when they took us back almost an hour early. My doctor, Sarah Taylor, said they hadn’t got a report from the radiologist yet, but because it was white on the scan that she was concerned. She made an appointment with a neurosurgeon for the following Monday and said that she’d present it to the tumor board for discussion Monday morning.

“Boo! Hissss!”

No customary celebratory sushi for the Staytons.

We went in to the neurosurgeon, Dr Chamoun, on Monday and it was more of the same. No decision could be made without cracking my skull back open. But there were only three things it could be:

1.) Slight benign tumor growth. *M’eh not too bad…*
2.) Malignant tumor recurrence. *Worst possible scenario!*
3.) Radiation necrosis. (Dead cells only now appearing from my radiation treatment 2 years ago. Apparently this is not abbynormal.) *Best possible scenario??*
A consensus was reached between Holly, Dr. Chamoun, and myself that we should just watch it more closely. So, instead of an MRI every 3 months we’re going to go with every 6-8 weeks, now. The doc’s want to watch a.)if it continues to grow, b.) the rate of growth, and c.) if it does continue to grow they want to note if and when the growth tapers off. If it’s necrosis the growth may continue for 6-9 months before eventually tapering off as the body gets rid of the dead cells. If it’s a tumor it will continue to grow. “yea.”
Neither the doctors nor I think the surgical risks (infection, anesthesia problems, clots, stroke, seizures, etc.) nor the spot’s size or location (it’s apparently close to the speech area so they would have to keep me awake to ensure they don’t cut out anything important) are worth slicing me back open just yet. Especially if it turns out to just be necrosis.
It’s weird, at 37 years old, when you get told your best option is just dead brain cells. Who ever thought, right? I’ll keep you all updated, me droogies!


Hume, David. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1772). Hackett Publ Co. 1993; Chapter on Cause and Effect.



  1. Well, that certainly isn’t what I wanted to hear! Sounds like a very sensible choice of treatment. Surprising so for such a wild and crazy guy! But I know you’re serious when you need to be. My most positive vibes headed toward you and Holly!

    • Can I be Yortuk?! Steve Martin…also a Philosophy major, ya know.

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