2017 is upon us and is gearing to be very interesting. It’s going to be a year of change. Lots of changes. Whether for the better or for the worse remains to be determined… but I’m NOT going into any politics. Lol!
We can’t deny that 2016 is over and it’s been a whirlwind both in the world of foreign and domestic affairs. These events may even have affected your life in some way or another: ridiculous increase in your insurance premiums? Your insurance company decided to not cover your medications anymore without any real justification? Maybe your health took a turn for the worse? While we can’t control everything that happens around us, we certainly can look inwards and develop strategies to not only cope with adversity, but overcome and thrive. Why be a victim when you could be a conqueror?
So far, I’ve been blessed with perfect health. Living with with a chronic illness is tough. It can devour you and unfortunately, sometimes it comes to define you. But it doesn’t need to be that way.
I’d like to share with you a very personal story about the bravest, noblest, most compassionate, and selfless person I have ever met: Paul Feeney. Maybe you may find some positive inspiration learning from his struggles but I secretly hope you learn most from his struggle.
Back in 2013, after fighting esophageal cancer for just shy of 2 years, my husband Paul passed away. His passing is not the point of this post, but rather what he has to teach each one of us about adversity, courage, dignity, and the genuine love of life.
Here’s a picture of Paul doing dips at the gym. Sorry for the poor graphics. My phone was kind of basic and not that great back then. But I digress. That little pack he has around his waist, that’s chemo. More precisely fluorouracil (5-FU), and it’s pumping directly into his veins. I believe I took this picture during his second or third month of chemotherapy with cisplatin and 5-FU. This regimen is downright nasty. He probably felt like shit, pardon my French, but you would never know because he would never let you know. Some of you may know someone like this. The eternal stoic.
After he passed away, I had to clean out his office. In the process, I found treasure. He never kept a diary, just thousands of random pieces of paper with incredibly insightful messages, intermixed with tax receipts, and to-do lists. Here is a list of his 10 powerful life lessons.
Like most people’s fight with cancer, Paul’s was both brutal and bloody for his mind, body, and soul. Despite all odds, throughout his illness he successfully continued running a business, he continued his Marine Corps exercise regimen x5 days a week, maintained an active social life, and continued being a doting son and husband. During his struggle, he never let the disease define him. It was something that he needed to overcome:
I have plans!
But sometimes, no matter how positive you are, no matter how proactive you are, and no matter how much you try, you simply can’t win them all.
The day before he passed, when there really was no hope, his physician walked into his room and told him there was nothing more he could do. We had exhausted all avenues. He had maybe two more weeks to live. Paul calmly stood up, shook his doctor’s hand like a true gentleman and thanked him for everything he had done.
We may not choose to suffer, but we can choose how to face suffering. Be kind, hold yourself to a higher standard, choose to be happy. How will you face your Goliath?
Capt. Paul W. Feeney (July 23, 1963 – May 4, 2013)