Friday July 20th, 2001 I decided to take things to a new level of sharing, a new level of public exposure and openness for me personally. It was on this day 2 years ago that Dr. Adams (one of my Hematologists) told me that my Leukemia had relapsed. I’ll never forget that emotional meeting my Mom and I had with Dr. Adams.
After cutting what has turned out to be my only vacation in the past 7-8 years short, I had spent the week leading up to Friday July 20th, 2001 having tests to learn why my blood counts were so low again. That day Dr. Adams told me the reason.
Call it intuition, gut instinct, whatever, hearing that news two years ago on this day wasn’t a shock to me. I think it’s an accurate statement to say that I was the least upset person of the three of us in the room that day. Of all my strengths as a person I can probably say that my ability to accept and get face-first into a Challenge is the most significant. And that characteristic has certainly been tested in the past 4-5 years.
As I had tests done that week I had an idea of the three possibilities that would explain my low blood counts and I spent time by myself the night before my Friday appointment. I very intently thought through what I would do for each alternative that my Docs had painted for me. Relapse being the most serious, and the most serious being the option with which I was presented.
When I was originally diagnosed, in November 1998, I did decide to open myself and my experience to those who wanted to connect with me. However I did so with a network approach if you will, through my friends and family and then through their friends and families. My sharing was through an email group, as it is now, and it was pretty much those who knew me with some special exceptions.
With the presentation of my 2nd Cancer Challenge two years ago today I had this gut feeling that I wanted to take this thing to another level. In short when I was first diagnosed I looked for a vehicle to share my experiences. There was none, which frustrated me at certain times. But when the second Challenge came around I had created the RealTime Cancer vehicle.
I left the hospital with my Mom that Friday morning, and as we got in the car I made one of those decisions that changes your life. The decision for me was a phone call to a friend and great supporter of mine. I told him about my new Challenge and I explained what I wanted to do… without thinking about involvement of my plans and request. But there it was, with that one phone call the wheels were set in motion for me to connect with the vast majority of you.
Two days later, on that Sunday afternoon, I took some of the most significant steps of my life as I invited the community to share my new Journey with me. Through television, radio, and print public service announcements I was able to connect with people in communities all across Canada. As a result Canada is represented in this email group.
These previous number of paragraphs were designed to give you a little background on what happened around this day two years ago. It was also meant to lead you nicely to what I really want to talk about.
I know it can be really tough to do, but I have to say that making the commitment to share and open myself to others is perhaps the best decision I’ve ever made. Keeping in mind that I have a collection of “best” decisions I’ve ever made. But opening up to others in this super emotional and Challenging time has lead to some of the most amazing experiences of my life.
Opening yourself is a personal choice and I’m not encouraging everyone to tell all and say everything to everyone. I really hope that you all are able to take what I say in this forum and incorporate it into your life how you see best, and that may mean not incorporating it at all. But I can tell you that the process of sharing my Challenges with you, has lead to me establishing a formal way (through RealTime Cancer) I can share my Challenges, the lessons learned and connect with people in ways that never would have happened if I hadn’t taken the first step.
I really think my desire to open up initially came from my need to talk about what was happening. I wanted to talk about it as it happened, and I wanted to talk about things after they happened. The latter part has become extremely important as it has been through looking back on my experiences that I’ve been able to learn some of the most valuable lessons of my life. And that’s where this circle gets complete. As I share my experiences, learn the lessons, and share the lessons, the audience has continued to grow.
Why is that? Why is the audience growing? That is a question that I play with often, is it exposure? Is it just that more people know where to find me now than 4 1/2 years ago when I first started writing emails? Is it that I have devoted the past 3 years of my life to having people connect with me? What is it that makes people connect?
I have a whole collection of thoughts that I love to think about and I’d love to hear yours on those questions as you feel the desire to share. I can say that none of these exceptional trying experiences that I talk about with you would have been the same if I hadn’t decided to talk about them with you in the first place.
I’m two years into my second Cancer Challenge and I have this comfort inside, it grows every day. Good things are happening today, and I have this feeling that good things will happen tomorrow too. Count on me coming back soon, have a great week.
Live life. Love life.