As you read this, I’m checked in at the Holden Cancer Center at the University of Iowa. I came here with a positive plan to improve my health. I was full of optimism, and my spirits were high. The plan was to have my stomach removed, but things do not always go according to plan. When they went in, they found my cancer had spread and was inoperable.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have Stage 4 Stomach Cancer. There is no cure, and I didn’t want to lay around waiting for the inevitable end, so I found a doctor who is a fighter, and we are working to defy the odds and extend my life.
In February, I was given nine to 12 months to live by a doctor who was convinced I was dying. So, I fired that negative doctor and began searching for an optimist and found him.
Dr. Kasi walked into the exam room with his entire team and said, “I hear you want to fight this diagnosis?” I said I did, and he said with enthusiasm, “We are your team!”
I had undergone eight rounds of chemo, and, on Friday, my stomach was supposed to be removed. Yeah, it’s not a cure, but our hopes were it could extend my life up to five years, and in that extra time, we would find a way to extend it five more. That was the plan, but plans change when presented with new information. Now, we have a new plan we are pursuing optimistically.
Why am I sharing this personal health info?
Because there is no such thing as darkness. What we call darkness is absence of light. As such, there is no such thing as an insurmountable problem, but only the absence of an idea that creates a solution.
I refuse to give up on my life. I want you also to not give up on your goals, dreams and, yes, life. Life is short. Go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t achieve your goals and dreams. I have goals. I plan to see my 8- and 10-year-old grandsons graduate from high school. I suspect I have grandchildren who are not yet conceived or born who I want to meet and hold in my arms.
My books, “Playing with the Enemy” and “The Final Service” are both now in negotiation to become major motion pictures. I plan to live to see their premieres. My book, “Fragrance of Lilacs,” is sitting with a publisher now. I plan to see it in print and on shelves. I can go on and on. ... The point is I have plans, dreams and goals I’m not willing to give up on. I’m stubborn this way. I plan to write this column 10 years from today.
I’m not going to let anyone, other than my creator tell me when it’s time to go.
Being optimistic doesn’t mean everything turns out magically perfect. It never does, but being an optimist means you look beyond your problems in search of the solution that makes your dreams come true. In my case, I’m looking beyond a negative diagnosis to find the solution that gives me more life. Without optimism, I would have given up already ... and I’m just not willing to quit.
What about you? What about your dreams? What was your passion before you gave up and said it was just too hard to achieve?
In the movie “League of their Own,” there is a scene in which the star catcher, Dottie Hinson, played by Geena Davis, decides she is quitting and going home before the championship game. The manager, Jimmy Dugan, played by Tom Hanks, stops her for a discussion.
“[Baseball] just got too hard,” Dottie says.
Hinson responds, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.”
Achieving your goals and dreams isn’t easy. Not giving up on your life when someone says it is over is ridiculously hard. Not everyone succeeds. Most people are not optimistic.
It’s hard being an optimist … but it’s the hard that makes it great.
Never give up. Never give in.
Always look beyond the problem and find the solution.