Three years ago I was given one of the best things that has ever happened to me but I hope you never get it. I was given the gift of cancer. I know that might sound crazy so let me expand on this.
Throughout the whole process I never felt fear but the second my body hit the cold stainless steel operating table regret struck me for the first time of my life. I’m not talking about the regret you feel when you take a second piece of pie at dinner. I’m talking body shuddering regret. I felt the regret of not telling the people I care and love how I feel about them. You see, as a man you are taught that kindness is weakness. I will never make this mistake again. If you get anything from this please let it be that you likely need to spend time telling your friends and family how you appreciate them. Nothing is more important than the great people around you.
I learned that I am stronger than I gave myself credit for. I am a warrior. You see, when you tell your friends and family you have cancer people treat you differently and most of them disappear for awhile. This is not in malice, most just don’t know how to react to the “C” word and I’m OK with that. Now I’m not saying I didn’t have support, my wife Bonnie was AMAZING during this but things were different, I felt very alone. I realized that I was the one that was going to fight this. I owned this. I had to push my mind and body farther than ever before. I needed to kill cancer with extreme prejudice, I needed to be around for my family. Heavy depression tried to stop me but I pushed back every day. Reading stories of survival from expeditions like “Cherry” and war heroes like “Marcus Lutrell” put fire into my spirit. My body was shutting down, things weren’t working and I wasn’t ok with that. Two days out of the hospital I needed to move. I was looking at the mailbox and thought that would be the goal of the day. Something we all take for granted like getting the mail became the hardest thing I might be able to accomplish. Halfway there I thought I made a big mistake, my legs would barely move but I pushed. Once I got to the box my skin was grey and I was ready to pass out. I stood there grasping the box for what seemed like an eternity. There was no one around, I had to make it back and I pushed on. I realize this isn’t quite Hell Week for Navy SEAL training but this was my battlefield. I pushed a little harder everyday. I never gave up. If I can do this so can you. No matter how hard things seem, you can make it through it.
I need to do more to help make the world a better place. This lesson took about a year to hit me, after I found out that I won the fight. Part of my coping mechanism was to post positive updates, quotes, and stories to social media throughout my ordeal. I did this for myself but what I found was that some of my words were reaching others in need whether it be physical or mental. There were others that were in a fight and needed something uplifting. Friends and strangers alike came out of the woodwork telling me I helped them and I had not even realized I was doing it. I started to coach other people fighting cancer, I helped fill a gap the medical field couldn’t. I learned that my words and actions are more powerful than I realized and I needed to make a more positive impact on people’s lives.
I’m not looking for high fives here, just sharing a few thoughts in hope that you the reader can get something out of this. I’m not a writer and I don’t think I am particularly good at putting my thoughts into words, but I’m trying.
The short story is that a lot of people are struggling, be it physical and or mental and you can make a difference. Share a kind word, you don’t realize how strong this can be. Never quit, you can make it through what life throws at you. Give back, time, money, whatever it is, just do something to make the world a better place. Trust me on this, it’s the best drug you will ever find.
Cancer is the best gift I have ever received and I am thankful for that.