Wednesday, March 18, 2009

So....I sit here filling out NCAA brackets and cannot help but think about a conversation I had last night with a friend. It wasn't just the conversation we had over Facebook, but the hope and inspiration this young man is giving to so many.

The irony about the whole thing is that I am not entirely sure he realizes that he inspires us. He is a young man battling a rare form of cancer. For his own privacy, I won't mention his name, but this is one tough cookie with an amazing head on his shoulders. He truly defines what it means to liveSTRONG and I really find inspiration in him daily. Most people think that as a 15 year survivor that inspiration comes easy to me, but reality is that sometimes I do get caught up with everyday life and find myself thinking about what I had been through and why am I letting the little things get to me.... That is where this young man comes into play. He has truly changed my life and I am not sure I can truly articulate what he has meant to me.

Truth be told, he has challenged me and made me a better person. When he gets better, I made a promise to him...His dream is to complete an Ironman Triathlon, and I promised that I would do this with him. Now, those who know me, have to know that I loathe running. I can swim 2.4 miles and bike 112 miles, no problem. A marathon actually scares the shit out of me. A marathon after a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride, to me seems almost unimaginable. This is exactly what I need, someone to push me and tell me that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

Do I know this? Of course I do, but does it help to have a daily reminder? Damn right. I cherish the moments, as brief as they may be that he and I share. So why do I share this with you? I know many of you are in the same situation and have someone that you care for battling this deadly disease in one form or another, so my hope is that you will look and listen to what this person is going through and build upon it. My work with cancer advocacy and research is both altruistic and selfish. Altruistic in that I love to give hope, inspire, and raise money for a cure, but selfish because I find it therapuetic. Is that Bad? Of course not, we all deal with cancer in our own way. I thoroughly enjoy talking to people touched by cancer in hopes that I can truly make a difference in their lives. We all deal with our survivorship issues on our own terms. I should know, it took me close to six years and the loss of a friend from cancer to even talk about it. Now, I can't shut up about it.

I guess all that I am trying to say is that we have to cherish the moments that make a difference in our lives because I could use every cliche to talk about how life is short, etc.. but truth be is short and we should really enjoy each day that we have on this earth and do whatever we can to help others and make a difference in their lives. In doing so...they just may have a profound impact on your lives. Life is funny like that

Thanks for reading.

Livestrong, be well, and Keep Climibing!

Joe Schneider

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