Friday, April 16, 2010

18 - A Life Worth Living

Tyler turned 18 this week. Absolutely amazing. Soon he will be graduating high school, and soon joining his brothers at The Ohio State University.

I've been thinking back on when our older sons turned 18. Life was good four years ago, when Brandon turned 18. With a bit of luck and a bit of hard work, life had been good to us. We had our health, and about everything else we wanted. In my 40's, I had just moved into a semi-retirement to spend more time with the family. We celebrated Brandon's 18th with a SCUBA diving trip to Maui.

Two years later, as Travis turned 18, all of that had changed. Our world was in turmoil. Tyler was 5 weeks into treatments and the news was not good. The cancer was far more advanced than previously thought, and growing quickly. Burkitt's has broken out of Tyler's abdomen, and into his chest cavity. Leukemia was in 85% of his bone marrow, and working into his central nervous system. Nothing in my life had prepared me for this fight. Everything I have worked so hard to achieve was useless.
And everywhere we turned, the news was bad. Nathan, the first teenager we meet at Children's, had recently passed away. Christian Barker, whose family I admired for their incredible fight, had just lost his battle. Rob Kemp and Brett Workman had both relapsed, and were struggling right down the hall. All the skills I had learned in the past were worthless as I tried to save my son. The past successes were of no value.

I hated what Tyler was going through. I wanted it over, and him home and healthy. I desperately wanted our life back. But I also realized these young people were changing me. I was in awe of their strength, courage, and compassion. Their love for life was incredible. Through all the struggles, these kids were living the most inspiring lives I had ever witnessed.
Slowly, I began to understand the difference between a life of success, and a life of significance. As 18 year old Miles Levin said, "The time I’ve had has been enough—time enough to make the world a better place for having been here." The young people achieved more good, and impacted more people, than i had in 40 years. It is impossible to meet these kids and walk away unchanged. I guess the only optional part is what I am going to do with that change.
So here we are today, 2 1/2 years gone by. Tyler is now 18. He is cancer free, and doing great. Brandon, Travis, and our youngest Erik, are all doing very good.

And I started my business back up. Our finances were wiped out with medical bills (chemo ain't cheap...just in case you were wondering). But I was bored with work. I couldn't focus on the petty issues, while thinking of the life struggles back at the hospital. So much of what I was doing seemed so irrelevant.

At night I would reflect on the day, and wonder what I accomplished. I thought about the kids who did not live to see this day, a day I was so freely given. Why was this day taken from them, but given to me? Did I pay back the privilege of receiving this day? Did I make an impact?
Finally I figured it out. Here's the truth. There is a cure to pediatric cancers. It's out there, and we can find it. We just need more energy and funding focused on finding it. And here's another truth. The only person I control is me. Waiting for "someone" to do "something" is a cop out. The only way to live life is to say, "If it's going to be, it's up to me."

We all have a purpose, a great goal that we are here to achieve. And those goals require funding. The purpose of life is to make it worth living, to accomplish the dreams and goals we were created to achieve. The purpose of business is to fund that purpose. It is a tool to help us achieve our goals. The job must work for us, otherwise it will enslave us.

So I can now guide my sons in their carriers. And how to help my staff, and serve our clients and customers. And rewrote our business plan, to reflect why we exist. On the front cover is printed our greatest purpose.

A job worth having, to fund a life worth living.
A business worth owning, to fund a cause worth fighting.
Where this will lead us, I do not know. All I know is this: Life is to be lived as a daring adventure in pursuit of our purpose. Always fighting to win. Life is precious. Always live it well.

Tyler had more scans and blood tests today. Everything was great. Cancer free, and he continues to improve from the damage resulting from treatment. Great news all around.

Madeline Wareham went in ahead of us, and Matthew Barr after us. it is always great to see them.

Please also remember in your thoughts and prayers Christina O'Brian, Sam Bish, and Faith Pruden.

Matthew

Madeline

Sam


Faith

Christina, the fighting goalie.





1 comment:

deyerles said...

Kyle,

Keep fighting the fight! So happy to hear Tyler is doing so well.

Happy Birthday Tyler!

Hugs,
Debbie