These words spoken to me on December 3rd by my surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota were both unexpected and stunning. It had been five years since a malignant tumor was discovered on the left side of my neck and my journey with cancer had begun. I was aware that, statistically, the five year mark was significant if one was to survive cancer.
However, in the cancer world, “cure” is a monumental word. It is much bigger that “remission” and even towers above “cancer free.” I looked at this man who I believe saved my life and asked, “Cured?” “Yes, cured,” he repeated. A tsunami of emotion came over me. Gratitude tumbled around with the implications of this amazing news.
Every six months I had been visiting my surgeon and oncologist. PET scans and extensive examination of my ears, nose and throat were always accompanied by the words, “You’re doing good.” Each time a sigh of relief as I marched back out into the fray of life. But, at the back of my mind, loitered the thought: next time something may be found.
I am already convinced that this concern restrained me. Now many who know me might argue against this conclusion as I have continued to be highly engaged in life. However, my willingness to take risks has certainly been contained and I have found myself playing safe more than is my normal modus operandi.
But now what will be my excuse or reason for holding back? This was the thought with which I was preoccupied as I drove back from the Mayo with my partner, Cheryl. When so many do not survive cancer, why me? A philosophical answer to that question is what appears to be true for all of us: If we’re alive our mission on earth isn’t finished.
However I am 69, so how big a vision is possible for a person of my age? It was to be just a few minutes before I found out. In my book, Even Eagles Need A Push, I wrote about the phenomenon – synchronicity – a meaningful coincidence. It is an unexpected and totally surprising connection to a life event one is dealing with. Synchronicity often provides encouragement, inspiration and insight when most needed.
So let me describe the scene. To keep to the speed limit my car was on cruise control. As I focused on the road ahead, the “why me” questions swirled around in my head.
At one point, for some unaccountable reason, I looked up. There, about forty feet above the car, hovered a magnificent eagle. The few seconds the eagle was in my vision felt like minutes. I could see every facet of it so clearly – the proud head and glorious wings. I had never been as close to this symbol for which my life, my work and my brand has so long been associated.
“Look at me David,” the Eagle seemed to be saying, “we have meant a lot to each other. Our partnership has made a difference in the lives of thousands of people. We have opened them to possibilities they could never have imagined. Let us use this gift of new life and re-commit ourselves to the purpose for which we were created. Let us soar to new heights of contribution and achievement.”
And so it will be!
Important note: Do you know someone who is dealing with cancer? For a complimentary copy of my booklet – My Sacred Journey Through Cancer – email me at firstname.lastname@example.org