I was in my regular morning routine. Up early, pour down some coffee, and get ready for a new day of work.
While taking a shower, I felt a lump under my arm and then upon a deeper press, I felt another.
Immediately, in my mind, I knew what it was. Cancer
The word was not a stranger to me as I had a mole removed from my back just a few years earlier that was melanoma. Less than two years before, my mother had died of cancer after a grueling multi-year battle.
My life was just hitting its stride with a new job, a nine-month-old son, and a wife that was, and still is, the woman of my dreams. Everything seemed to be going my way.
I did not tell Michelle about the lump and instead made an appointment to see an Oncologist and he was able to fit me in right away. This was the same person that I had gone to see right before popping the question to get reassurance that I was going to be okay.
He said, “Live on David, and be happy.”
Now, I found myself back in his office.
He pressed hard and was able to easily find lumps in my armpit. Next, he said, “What about the lump on your neck? How long have you had that one?”
It turned out that in addition to the tumors under my arm, I also had one near my neck. A later surgery would show that I had not only the tumors but also melanoma throughout many of the lymph nodes on my right side.
You can fill in the blanks for the next several months. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and an unfortunate obsession with online statistics. Meanwhile, I still had a family, a job, and a man mindset that an outward show of fear was only for the weak. I think I only missed work on the days I was needed at the clinic for my chemo.
Life with cancer
My greatest fear was that I would die leaving my wife alone and our son to have never known me as his dad. My own father died when I was young and I have no memories of him.
All of this seems like long ago while at the same time, it can feel like just yesterday. Cancer really never leaves you. The experience becomes part of who you are and whispers to your consciousness.
“I found you once and I am going to find you again”
“You should be living life differently, you are a survivor”
“Why are you stressed, have gratitude for this new day”
The voice can be negative at times but for the most part, it has reset my mind to good things.
Life after cancer
I would like to tell you that after my treatments I became a great adventurer with jumps from planes, rides on bulls, and spectacular experiences. I have for sure done some cool things but I am most thankful for the simple moments.
My happy place is time with Michelle. I have also been able to see the son grow up, go to college, and get married to an amazing person.
Cancer drove me to a conservative financial life that has us debt free and prepared for whatever the world will throw at us.
Most of all, I have gratitude to the Lord for each new day that I get to experience as I truly did not think I would be here today to write this.
It is a good life and I am thankful.
What about you?
It should not take a traumatic experience to make someone appreciate life and choose a different path from the norm.
I honestly get frustrated with the drama I see from some people and the lack of action to be their best and to live their potential.
Life is way too precious to get worked up about things that really do not matter and too precious to NOT get worked up about the things that do.
What matters is your faith, family, friends, health, impact on others, and financial independence.
Get these things right and everything else will fall into place.
How to get things right
- Clearly define your what–What is your vision for your best life?
- Clearly define your why–Why is this vision important to you?
- Map out your how–These are the actions you will take to bridge the gap between your what and your why.
- Take action!
Many people dream about the life they want. Very few put in the work required to make these dreams come true.
The how is the hard part.
So, happy lump day to me. I will use this as a reminder to live with few regrets and continue to be my own kind of weird.
I hope you find a way to be weird too.