It's Not Harder Than Cancer

December 2011: A Memory from Before the World Changed

Facebook’s “On This Day” feature fascinates me. I almost always find something I’m glad I posted a year or two or three ago, and I can see how much social media and I have changed since I became a willing participant.

The other day, the picture at the top of this post popped up. It was taken by Jennifer Myrick, a friend and former colleague at the American Cancer Society, on the occasion of my first visit after 10 years on staff to the Mother Ship, our company’s headquarters in Atlanta.

We were  there for a training best practices conference. Those of us who provided training to employees in our respective divisions were invited. With a little thought, I could probably still do a So Glad You Asked training, which helped staff talk about the work of the Society.

This particular trip was memorable for a couple reasons.

First, I discovered how weak my ankles were. That tent behind me was an ice skating rink in Centennial Olympic Park. That they had size 16 skates was serendippity. That I couldn’t stand in them very long was a painful object lesson.

Second, it was during this trip that I experienced for the first time the “funky digestive symptoms” I mention when I talk about my cancer experience. I made several trips to the restroom thinking I had to go and nothing would happen. It was weird, and at the time I didn’t think anything about it.

Three months later our world would be upended by a cancer diagnsosis.

It’s odd. So much about my life before cancer is fuzzy, like looking through binoculars with petroleum jelly smeared on the lenses.

I wouldn’t wish cancer on anybody, and I will be the last person to ever say cancer was a gift, there have been benefits: a stronger marriage, wonderful friendships, Marley Dog, a strong sense of mission and meaning, a willingness to take risks and seize opportunities, a focus on gratitude and telling the people in my life how much they mean to me, and so much more.

It’s a wonderful life.

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