February 21, 2006

Exposing myself…..emotionally

Today I took a leap of faith, an opportunity that in the past, I probably would not have dared to take. I spent two 50 minute sessions on the phone with a group of high school students discussing death, dying, cancer, et al.

My brother-in-law's brother (Andy) teaches a class on death and dying at St. Joseph Academy in St. Louis. In addition to reading "Tuesday's with Morrie" they were assigned to read my blog. They also were asked to submit a list of questions to Andy beforehand. I wish I would have seen them as well, they were tough!

I had no reason to be apprehensive when Andy asked me if I would be interested is doing this, after all, most of the time I like to talk about my situation, it's almost therapeutic. What I should have thought through more was the type and range of questions they might ask me. I don’t want to give you the impression the event turned out bad or was extremely difficult, it was just a little emotional at times (thank goodness the video hook up wouldn't work and we resorted to just an audio conference call!!!). I was envious (and told them so) that at their age they were discussing, learning, researching a topic like this. I wish I had done this in when I was in high school.

There were a lot of questions, so many I can't remember them all. Their questions were awesome, very well thought out, here are a few (and what little I remember saying);

- If I could go back, would I change anything in my life?
[Be a better student in high school. Take it more seriously, apply myself, party less. I also added that I am a firm believe in fate and that God has a plan for us all, so if going back and changing things altered my path and meant I would not have have met Mary, etc. than I would do it all over again the same exact way.]

- If I was rich, if I had all the money I wanted right now, what would I do with it?
[Two answers, one selfish, one not: I'd give as much as possible to cancer research, not expecting it to find a cure for me, or address my situation but to make sure in the future there is more hope for others. I'd take Mary and Brad to Europe the day school got out and travel the entire summer. No agenda other than a list of countries to visit].

- How do I stay so positive and how would I advise others dealing with similar situations to remain positive?
[As I have said here before, when faced with this everyone has a choice, we chose the road of HOPE. I also said that a person needs to find faith or turn to it. It may not provide all the answers, but it will provide strength and solace.]

- How has my relationship with God changed?
[It is far stronger now than prior to my diagnosis. I pray more, I do not question "why me" but look to God for the answer to "now that it is me, what do I do next". I think I know and I think expressed that to the classes; It is as simple as this; 1) Do something for others (research, fundraisers, etc.) and 2) Tell as many people as you can reach to be tested and continue to be tested (educate), it not a lot more difficult to figure out than that.]

Regarding these last two, they are closely related. I used the example of another man's blog. He is a little older than I am, perhaps mid-fifties. He is going through either chemo or radiation treatments right now. His blog is the expression of how both he and his wife are dealing with cancer(they both add entries). God is not mentioned much, or at all. I'm not being judgmental here and told the class this, I am simply pointing out the fact that these two people are struggling more than my wife and I and perhaps their lack faith, prayer etc. might be the reason? It is their choice and not my, position to judge, again, it was just an observation.

One of the students asked about poetry because I have made a few attempts to include some. I wrote a lot in high school. None of it particularly good, most about infatuations, feelings, etc.. I saved it for all these years but I tried to find it all a little while back, but I'm not sure where I put it all? Perhaps it was the moment but I told them that I can't remember any of it, except for one verse:
Life goes on,
though yours might end,
in a lover, a brother or just a friend.


John Wagner said...


What a fantastic opportunity and I am sure you touched many lives -- again! By the way, I am still doing great. In fact, I am out of town conducting a training this week.

Keep going as strong as you are!

Garry said...

We have never met and I am much older than you but I would be proud to have a young man like you as my son.....you exibit great spiritual and internal strength as well as intelligence and I pray that you keep this beast at bay for many,many years to come....I too have an 8 year old son and a 20 year old and love them both dearly.....I also have advanced Prostate cancer with distant metasteses ( 1 yr. since diagnosis)so I certainly understand a lot of the emotions and feelings you are dealing with....my prayers are with you and your family.

God Bless,


Anonymous said...

What a selfless thing to do discussing this with a school group. You continue to amaze me. God bless you and yours.