As most of you who follow me know, I lost two best friends back to back this year. I feel like a broken record telling people over and over again, but it’s almost like I have to keep talking about it to even believe it really happened. It seems everyday a tag with one of them comes up in my Facebook memories to which I have a love/hate reaction. I love remembering, but it stings having to “remember.” It’s just plain unfair, you know?
In May of 2017, my friend, Chad Trout, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroendocrine Pancreatic Cancer and was told it had metastasized in his blood. Very quickly, his condition became grave. Chemo treatments brought back his quality of life and extended his time here by a year. Over the last year of his life, Chad had some real moments of growth and strength. He shared his epiphanies publicly and so many were touched as a result. I wanted to share this post with my readers that Chad post just months before he passed away:
“Vanderbilt is holding me tonight & possibly tomorrow too!
So, after nearly 4 days in the hospital, I’ve learned a lot more about my health and situation. As most of my friends & family know, I have been fighting stage 4 pancreatic & liver cancer for 10 months. Against all odds, I kept getting better and making huge progress. In that time, I’ve been enlightened, found new identity, appreciated my existence, had the opportunity to make things right, and mend fallen fences. My marriage has gotten even stronger. I’ve searched for and discovered answers, been celebrated and saw the face of time. But, more importantly, I discovered the meaning of faith! Those are the good things that cancer has brought into my life.
The truth is – it’s been there the whole time. Being in crisis mode just forced me to make changes and become aware of those things a lot faster. Cause, the only other option is to lay down and give up. Only, I am not one to give up! Even in my darkest hours, I’ve kept the music and my dreams alive. Cause, without that there would be no hope. It’s such a privilege to share my talents and stories with others!
On the darker side of things, I have felt hopeless, scared, angry….. lost! Like, I’m fighting a never ending battle. Right now, I am in a hospital fighting a life threatening cancer, a blood infection, jaundice, chronic pain, exhaustion, needles, IVs, surgeries, procedure after procedure, chemo, oils– just to have or buy little more time. It seems bad news is always around the corner…. my dreams, my future, my life seems to all be slipping away from me, slowly. That shore seems impossible to swim too!
I’ve just painted two pictures and two versions of my life. Which of these scenarios do you like best? Which scenario, would you choose? Because, in reality they both are happening. My point is that we all have a choice in life to choose our own happiness. Despite it all, I am a happy man. I am a blessed man! I FACE my issues instead of running away. So, tonight I ask you look at yourself before bed and FACE yourself ( Find what’s working, Acknowledge it, Celebrate & Enjoy = F.A.C.E.) Look at whatever challenges or hurt you might carry around and let it GO! Set it free. It’s just to damn heavy to lug around.”
— Chad Trout
How’s that for perspective? A man staring down the end of his life at 41 years old can look at a situation holistically. If he can, you can. What things in your life are you focusing on the most? Whatever those things are will be the direction you keep heading. Granted, there are things out of your control. Chad’s illness was far out of his control. As I mentioned before, he passed away just two months after posting this. But, he fought to the end. His attitude and perseverance changed people – many of whom he didn’t even personally know! Had he conceded to his diagnosis, he would have missed the most powerful year of his life. He traveled, he loved, he hugged, he spoke, he sang, he cried, he fought. His attitude was hopeful until the day he passed. In fact, the day before he died, he was mumbling “fight the cancer, fight the cancer” in a drug induced sleep.
Maybe you are in the same situation as Chad where you have a terminal illness. My heart aches for you, and I hope Chad’s example will encourage you to make the very most of the time you are given. For those of you who are in the midst of hard times, I implore you to heed Chad’s advice above and find a way to acknowledge the positive things in your life that coexist with your struggles. Find gratitude in the simple fact that you have you opened your eyes to another day. Be grateful that you have food in the fridge, good friends, your health, or a car that runs. There is always something to for which to be thankful, so start there even if it seems so minute. What you focus on becomes your reality. Are your thoughts in support of who you truly want to be and the life you want to live? Perhaps shifting your perspective on your struggles may help improve your mindset and, in turn, your reality. Even in the midst of watching him pass before my eyes, Chad taught me to F.A.C.E. hardship head on and find the beauty in the moment. Let us all learn from his example.