Revealing Sufficiency Amidst Hardships

During the past couple of days, I’ve had the opportunity to catch up with coworkers who likely visualized me on a death bed at MD Anderson. As difficult as it is (from a repetitive standpoint) to share the details of the past four months, the connection with others who’ve experienced similar trials, or are close to someone who has, makes it all worth it.

Yesterday, I talked to man in his mid-forties who shared a recently diagnosed heart condition. He walks with his wife every day, and was lucky enough to be diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat before it became fatal.

Like me, he is grateful. This is what I mean when I talk about my leukemia being a blessing. I’m thankful to have been inspired and grateful for another opportunity to encourage. Continue reading “Revealing Sufficiency Amidst Hardships”

Back To Work

Today is my first day back to work since I left to begin a clinical trial at MD Anderson on January 16th. To summarize the past three and a half months, I experienced an increase in toxicity during the first trial for a t315i leukemia mutation, fought through muscle weakness and nausea, lost some of my vision, began blogging for MD Anderson, and was accepted as a compassionate care patient for a promising drug called Ponatinib. It wasn’t quite the kind of vacation I wanted, but I may look back on this period and say it was the best thing to ever happened to me.

Continue reading “Back To Work”

An Update on My Treatment: So Far, So Good

I’ve been on Ponatinib, a clinical trial drug that fights the t315i leukemia mutation I have, for one month so far. Before I began treatment, I was off of medication altogether for three weeks. The first test showed an abnormally high white blood cell count. To simplify things, this is how leukemia presents itself. After two weeks on my new medication, my counts normalized. To not bog anyone down with medical terminology, I pulled out what’s important and posted below. Continue reading “An Update on My Treatment: So Far, So Good”

The Grocery Checkout Donation Dilemma

There’s a grocery food chain called Tom Thumb on the other end of the block of my apartment complex. Until you live this close to a grocery store, you have no idea what convenience is. Should the milk ever run out mid-pour, I’m literally two minutes away from more. In fact, it takes longer to put on a more acceptable shirt and walk down to my truck than it does to get from my apartment complex to the sliding front doors.

Recently, Tom Thumb linked up with the Support for People with Disabilities fundraising campaign to benefit Easter Seals, Special Olympics and an array of organizations that help people with disabilities live fuller, more independent lives. At the end of each transaction, the cashier asks the customer if they’d like to donate money for the cause. On the customer transaction screen, there are donation options of $1, $5, $10 and $20. Any amount you donate is conveniently added to the total of the grocery amount. Continue reading “The Grocery Checkout Donation Dilemma”

The Perils of Building Endurance

When I was initially diagnosed with leukemia, I could barely walk up a flight of stairs. Once I reached the top, I would pant like I had just crossed the finish line at a death valley 100 mile ultra-marathon. I went to the doctor and discovered my white blood cell count was one hundred and twenty eight thousand. That’s 128,000 if you prefer to look at a number. Since normal is 4-11 thousand, I was definitely in a little trouble.

As my medicine started to work, so did my legs. I became more active and no longer panted like a dog trapped in a car on a 90 degree day. I committed to working out, alternating between the treadmill and stationary bike. Over time, the commitment paid off. Not only was I fifteen pounds lighter, I felt more energetic, I had a clearer head, and started feeling better about living a “normal” life. Continue reading “The Perils of Building Endurance”

TED Talks: The Power of Vulnerability – Brene Brown

I had a long talk with Katie yesterday about the writing process and the elusive struggle to align the cross hairs that make a blog post effective, meaningful and worthwhile. Writing is much more than putting something down on paper. Let me rephrase, good writing is much more than putting something down on paper. It’s hard work. My best blog posts exhaust my mind and leave me feeling like I couldn’t possibly etch out one more sentence. Afterward, there’s always the juxtaposition of reading what I’ve written and knowing I could have made it a lot more four-dimensional, tangible, relatable, fluid, more everything. Continue reading “TED Talks: The Power of Vulnerability – Brene Brown”

See a World Outside of Your Own

The greatest obstacle to growth is surrounding ourselves with people who think, talk, act, and share the same perspectives we do. As humans, it’s difficult to get away from this natural tendency to gather with like-minded people. It’s much easier to garner an us-against-the-world mentality than to try to understand the hundreds, thousands, even hundreds of thousands different circumstances people encounter growing up.

When I lived in a small town, I often listened to one side of the argument and deeply rooted my opinions based on evidence I listened to every single day. My intentions to understand the world weren’t disingenuous, but I may have disregarded equally deep and valuable opinions from a different perspective. It took a lot of honesty to look at myself and realize I wasn’t as appreciative of different viewpoints as I thought, or even would have liked to be. Continue reading “See a World Outside of Your Own”

Significant Life Events: The Lessons of Becoming a Quarterback

When you look back at the life you’ve lived, it’s occasionally interesting to think of the three, four, five, etc., significant events you’ve experienced which have shaped your ideals, thoughts, esteem, and changed the trajectory of your beliefs or actions. All of these circumstances have been meaningful enough to set you on a path you might not have otherwise encountered. In this series of posts, I’ll embark on an interesting experiment to recall and recapture the feelings associated with some of the most significant life events that have either directly or indirectly shaped my worldview and the life I live today. My hope is that, through this, you’ll begin to rehash those significant moments in your own life and realize the impact those moments still have, further prompting you to explore the insight of your interactions with yourself and others.

“A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

PART 1: REJECTION

THE LESSONS OF BECOMING A QUARTERBACK

“Ozuna, Fancher, come here.” I turned to see two coaches huddled in the center of the football field.

I had no idea what Coach Stone wanted. We were in the middle of a water break. Most of the team and I were hovered around the furthest sideline, next to the table loaded with water bottles.

It was an early afternoon on a warm spring day, during my freshman year of high school. In the spring, we were allowed a few weeks to practice and get familiar with the plays and formations of the upcoming football season. With much trepidation, I confidently jogged toward my coaches. I knew I’d either learn of an exclusive opportunity or I’d be informed of extra responsibility. I didn’t think it would be both. Continue reading “Significant Life Events: The Lessons of Becoming a Quarterback”

Significant Life Events: Rejection

When you look back at the life you’ve lived, it’s occasionally interesting to think of the three, four, five, etc., significant events you’ve experienced which have shaped your ideals, thoughts, esteem, and changed the trajectory of your beliefs or actions. All of these circumstances have been meaningful enough to set you on a path you might not have otherwise encountered. In this series of posts, I’ll embark on an interesting experiment to recall and recapture the feelings associated with some of the most significant life events that have either directly or indirectly shaped my worldview and the life I live today. My hope is that, through this, you’ll begin to rehash those significant moments in your own life and realize the impact those moments still have, further prompting you to explore the insight of your interactions with yourself and others.

“A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

MY FIRST SIGNIFICANT MEMORY OF REJECTION

When I was young, around the age of nine, I enjoyed going to the Boys and Girls club. Because I was often sidetracked by other activities during the school year, I didn’t get to go as often as I’d liked. The summer break, however, provided unlimited opportunities to explore untapped reservoirs of possibility. In other words, I had all the time in the world to do what I wanted to do.

A natural obstacle to the land of immeasurable fun proved to be the limited number of kids I knew who were members of this minimally exclusive club. As a result, my attendance to the Boys and Girls club was better defined as infrequent and sporadic. Every time I was invited, or had the opportunity to spend an afternoon up there with a friend, I would jump at the chance to go. Continue reading “Significant Life Events: Rejection”

Breaking Through the Element of Fear

Early in my career as a human, I would secretly celebrate being under the roller coaster height limit. I used to be afraid of them.

“I’d love to go, but see Goofy’s arm? I’m under that. I’ll wait.”

Wait, I did.

The violent, furious sounds of a roller coaster declaring its sharp turns was enough for me to step back and realize that my desire to be thrilled was outweighed by the fear of something going terribly wrong. I just knew I’d be the one stuck looking down at a tiny city on the descending side of the coaster’s steepest peak. For me, it was thrilling enough to wait at the exit and greet my family as they walked down the ramp. Continue reading “Breaking Through the Element of Fear”