Have you ever been through a situation that just radically changed who you are, how you think, and what you value most? In May of this year, I will celebrate my 2 year mark of being declared “cancer free.” It’s been quite a journey, not just physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. What I’ve come to learn is that people don’t know how to take me at times because of the filter that I look through now, especially those people who knew me before cancer and haven’t been around me much after cancer.
One of the very cool aspects of my career is that I get to speak to crowds of people, mostly about recruiting or HR related issues. I do this through a variety of ways – keynote speaker at conferences, webcasts, blogging, writing articles for other sites, etc. Prior to entering the corporate world, I was a minister for almost 20 years. So, speaking to large numbers of people is something that I am accustomed to, and quite honestly, love to do. Because of the platform that I have, one topic that I’m about to add is far more personal than the others. I am going to speak about the professional side of life and where it fits into the grand scheme of things. A work/life balance type issue.
Prior to cancer, I was a very driven employee looking to rise to the top and make all that I could along the way. I was intense, hard-core, and some would say “mean” at times. I wanted to be the most successful and the most respected person in the company. While I was having success and getting some “wins” on my resume, I’m not sure that any respect that I was getting was the kind of respect that I was seeking. There’s the kind of respect that says, “Wow! What a great guy!” and then there’s the kind of respect that says, “Wow! Be careful around that guy!” Unfortunately, I think to the casual observer of me, I was the latter. Then cancer came.
I was blindsided by my diagnosis. I had what was supposed to be a small, routine, in and out type procedure, and it turned into 3 surgeries in 6 weeks to remove 16 tumors. The third surgery was unplanned and had to be done to save my life in an emergency manner. When you hear the words, “It’s cancer.”, hmm. My response was that of determination and resolve to defeat it. I didn’t get emotional often because I didn’t want others around me to worry. I tried to stay upbeat, fun, and relieve those who came into contact with me, but on the inside thoughts of my wife, my daughter, and wanting to be there for those big moments of life. No longer did my title at work matter much. No longer did the things that I own amount to anything. No longer was the number of successful searches filled of great importance to me. In just an instant, my priorities shifted to faith, family, friendship, and meaningful conversations.
The battle with cancer was extremely tough. The battle scars still remain in multiple ways. But I am thankful for what I went through and how it has reshaped me and the way that I approach life. I believe I have a story worth telling that can inspire and motivate others. Many times a crisis is what it takes to get our attention and to take inventory of our own lives…and tragically, not everyone has the type of ending that I’ve had. I’m looking for places to share this story. If you, or someone you know, might have an interest – please reach out to me.