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In many ways, I believe I am just like any of the billions of people existing on this planet.
I have reinvented myself frequently over my professional career. After I graduated from college at The Citadel (where I played NCAA Division I basketball), I was employed in the Marketing Department at the corporate headquarters of Wendy’s International in Dublin, Ohio. From there, I worked in hospital administration for Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. After getting married and moving to California for my wife's job, I became the Customer Service Manager for an academic publishing company in Santa Barbara. After our daughter was born and we moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, I became a police officer with the Cincinnati Police Department, where I was a SWAT Hostage Negotiator. Following a family relocation to Texas, I started a school security consulting business and coached high school girls basketball in Houston. Each time I took on a new job, I had to develop new skills and faced different challenges. There was always a significant learning curve with every new position.
But my greatest challenge began in early 2012 when I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Acral Lentiginous Melanoma, which presented on the bottom of my foot. By the time the melanoma was detected, it had metastasized to a lymph node in my groin. Because my cancer is so rare (only about 6,500 people are diagnosed with this form of malignancy in the U.S. each year), I was treated at the world-renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center. I had two surgeries to remove the tumors, and after I healed, I was put on a weekly injection of the drug, Interferon, to help keep the disease from coming back.
I took those weekly injections for four years and seven months before the Interferon became so toxic to my body that I ended up in the Intensive Care Unit with a fever of 108 degrees. Fortunately, expert medical care saved my life.
The Interferon gave me severe flu-like symptoms for two to three days after each injection. I lost fifty pounds during my therapy, was constantly nauseous, fatigued, and chilled, my ability to taste food significantly diminished, and my body constantly ached. This misery went on for over 1,660 days!
One thing I learned during all my pain and suffering is that you have two choices. You can succumb to the debilitating discomfort and misery, or you can learn to embrace it and use it to make you a stronger and better human being. I chose the latter.
There were times I felt so poorly and was in so much agony that I prayed to die. Each day was a struggle to use my mind to override my body's apathy and distress.
I realize pain and discomfort can beat you to your knees and keep you there if you let it. But I also came to appreciate that I could use my hurting and anguish to make me stronger and more resolute.
I was no better at dealing with pain and discomfort than the next person. But every day, I found a way to survive, with the knowledge that I would need to do it again the following morning.
I recently wrote a book, entitled Sustainable Excellence, Ten Principles to Leading Your Uncommon and Extraordinary Life, to help people find and live their uncommon and extraordinary life. The ten principles outlined in the book will provide the bedrock necessary to form the foundation of unshakable beliefs and dedicated behaviors to reinforce your attitude, no matter how much pain you must endure or how many obstacles you must overcome. My hope is that people who read the book will lead a life of significance, as well as a life of success.
Unfortunately, my cancer experience hasn't ended with me conquering my disease. The melanoma that had plagued me for over six years returned in 2017, and my only treatment option was the amputation of most of my left foot in 2018. The cancer reemerged again in 2019, requiring multiple operations. In February of 2020, an undiagnosed tumor in my ankle fractured my tibia. My only remedy was the amputation of my left leg above the knee. I also have tumors in both of my lungs. Recently, my doctor advised that more than likely, I am coming to the end of my life.
But I refused to be a victim of this malignancy. I vowed to continue my fight. I knew the only way cancer could win is if I gave up or gave in to the disease, or it killed me.
In addition to my faith, I use my 4 Truths to guide the decisions I make in my life. These 4 Truths are:
1. Control your mind, or it will control you.
2. Embrace the pain and suffering we all experience in life and use it to make you a stronger and more determined individual.
3. What you leave behind is what you weave in the hearts of other people.
4. As long as you don't quit - you can never be defeated.
I chose the title, Motivational Check, for a simple reason. When I was a recruit in the Cincinnati Police Academy, it was a phrase any of our classmates could shout if they needed encouragement, motivation, or support. The class's response was to answer with a loud “84,” signifying our Recruit Class number and letting the person needing the reassurance know that we were all there for him or her.
I understand what it is like to fight for your life and one thing I’ve learned is that as long as you don’t quit, you can never be defeated.
However, I came to understand the responsibility for altering your life is entirely up to YOU. Whining, complaining, and blaming others for your plight will not enhance your experience. Motivation alone will not cause you to progress. YOU have to want to make the change and commit to it every minute of every day. There are no days off when attempting to make significant and lasting improvements.
Just as fire strengthens metal and lifting weights until exhaustion grows muscle, use the pain and discomfort you are experiencing to harden your mind and make you a better and more determined individual. Keep fighting no matter how many setbacks you have or how bad you feel. Believe in yourself and know that there will be light at the end of your journey one day.
Remember, YOU are never out of the fight, no matter how often you fail or how many obstacles you face. Stay positive and keep moving forward!