Coach Thompson said something that I thought was great––"Our life is not a straight line." Wow. That's it. That hit me dead in the head. I have thought that very thing since I was diagnosed with cancer. One day you're walking around, feeling pretty good. Then, WHAM!––yes, I used an allowable exclamation point––you have cancer. Well, you had cancer the day before you found out. You just didn't know it.
The path I was taking got flooded. I had to go another way. I had to find my way to the strong side, go where I can find the most strength. It wasn't a road block, it was like the 14 Freeway out in the Los Angeles desert area when the bridge collapsed after the earthquake. It looked like the end of the road.
The funny thing is, after the initial shock, pain, tears and fear, I felt comfort in being positive and getting ready to get the cancer out. That's what I had to do. I had an obligation to my family. I had an obligation to my family at work. The look in their eyes when I told them I had cancer is one I will never forget.
When I was at J. Walter Thompson in the late '80's, my Creative Director, Denny Kuhr, was diagnosed with cancer. He was the first person I knew who had cancer. I can't imagine having cancer in 1988. Treatment has come a long way. Not long enough, of course. Denny was tough. Denny beat it. I'm sure he saw the looks.
One person who stood out at work was Juanita. When I looked at Juanita, I swear I saw God. There was a peacefulness in her eyes and a smile on her face. She was telling me I was going to get through on the other side. I was going to get through this.
Just not in a straight line.