Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fight to Win

Hard to believe. It's been over two years since Tyler's original diagnosis. I was thinking of this while reading an interview with U.S. Admiral Stockdale in the book, "Good to Great". He was discussing his 7 years of torture as a Vietnam prisoner of war. The interviewer asked about faith, and how it helped people remain optimistic in difficult situations. Admiral Stockdale responded that it was actually the optimists who were the first to die. Not the answer I was expecting.

Stockdale said the optimist were the ones who said, "I will be rescued by Christmas", but then Christmas would come and go. Then they would say Easter, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas again. And each of those dates would come and go. Eventually, they would die of a broken heart.

Stockdale said he always had complete faith that he would survive, but he was also brutally honest about the realities he faced. He said, "You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

Two years and two months ago, we walked into Children's Hospital to find out why Tyler could not beat a "stomach virus". Within hours we were thrown into the horrific world of leukemia, lymphoma, spinal taps, chemo, ports, pic lines, TPN, PICU, blood counts, and PET scans. A world where every moment is filled with gut wrenching tragedy and awe inspiring bravery.


Kathy responded with a calm faith, her greatest strength. I responded with my strength, charging head first into war with the brutal realities. It has taken a long time for us to understand our different approaches (something we are still working through).


During one of the darkest times in this fight, someone told me that I needed to accept God's will. I find the concept absurd. I'm willing to bet that God finds it equally absurd. We are created with intelligence, passion, and a desire to make things right. I sincerely believe God has already given us what we need to save these kids. The rest is up to us. We must break out of our comfort zone and go to war. He tells us to "run the great race", and speaks of "great and wondrous plans" for our lives. Never once does He suggest we sit on the sofa and wait for everything to "just work out."

These kids fight with a passion that is indescribable. Their faith never waivers. The brutal reality is that their survival also depends on us. All of us. Not government, or non-profits, or pharmaceuticals, or health care reform. Us. You and me. Those other things might be tools that we use, but the fight is up to us.

Tyler is doing great. He is growing, getting stronger, and doing great in school. He is alive today because of a combination of incredible faith and incredible fight. Our entire community fought, with constant financial, emotional, and spiritual support. There were lines at the blood bank for Tyler. He is alive because of the many kids who had fought before him, and the thousands who fought for them. The decisions we made on his treatments were the result of advice from parents who had also fought this battle before us.

There are brutal realities with cancer. And we will never be able to change cancer. The only thing we can change is the fight. And when we fight, we must always fight to win.

On February 6th, we will be having Laps For Love to support two kids battling cancer, and fulfill the dream of one who did not survive. You can support them with your tax deductible donation by going to www.AKidAgain.org/goto/Alfriend

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