Knowing Yourself Is Helpful

Insights on chronic illnesses.

We have regularly written about the value of health care knowledge. For example, see: Insights on Health LiteracyHealth Rankings in America Cancer Health.

Today, let’s look at the observations of a Crohn’s disease survivor. As Tessa Miller writes for the NY Times:

“Finding out you have a chronic illness — one that will, by definition, never go away — changes things, both for you and those you love. When I was diagnosed, I didn’t know how much my life would change. There’s no conversation about that foggy space between the common cold and terminal cancer, where illness won’t go away but won’t kill you, so none of us know what ‘chronic illness’ means until we’re thrown into being sick forever.”

“Chronic illness patients not only face painful physical symptoms, but also mental ones that linger even when the disease is well controlled. A therapist should be considered a crucial part of your care team, just as important as a gastroenterologist or cardiologist.”

“Your relationship with yourself changes. You grieve a version of yourself that doesn’t exist anymore, and a future version that looks different than you’d planned. You might have to give up career goals, hobbies and family plans, learning a ‘new normal’ in their place.”

“Chronically ill people research their diseases ad nauseam. They try more treatments than they can count. In many cases, great scientific minds can’t crack a cause or cure. So unless someone asks for your advice, don’t offer it.”

“There’s a sense of shame that comes with chronic illness that pressures patients into secrecy, making them feel like they can’t discuss their disease outside of the doctor’s office. Secrecy bolsters the lack of public conversation and knowledge, which feeds the shame patients feel.”

“Living with chronic illness makes every day a little harder, but it also makes every day a little sweeter. Though I don’t know what my future holds, I’m overwhelmed with a gratitude I didn’t have before my diagnosis — some days I marvel at just being alive.”

Click the image to read more.

Credit: Mark Pernice

 

Embarking on the Next Stage of Life

Retiring well is the plan.

With the beginning of 2019, I have embarked on the next stage of life. For me, that means retirement from my full-time profession. For 44 years, I was a professor (the last thirty, a distinguished professor). But I am not retiring from life. And there are several things I plan to do in the future.

While at the Zarb Business School of Hofstra University for all of those 44 years, I had a very rewarding career. I was extremely involved in the three pillars of academe: teaching undergraduate and graduate classes; engaging in scholarly research; and providing service to my department, my school, and to the university overall. Along the way, I was fortunate enough to also co-author two leading textbooks that were used worldwide and that went through many new editions. And I was lucky enough to be recognized with a teacher of the year award and four dean’s awards for service to the business school.

But, I realize that at this point that I want to move onto the next phase of my life. As this blog has noted before, I do not intend to “throw away” any days. And I want to live life every day. This is a time for reflection — both keeping my positive memories as well as striving to build new ones.

It was essential for me to retire while healthy enough to enjoy my next series of adventures. I will NEVER forget how lucky I am to be a pancreatic cancer survivor who celebrates four years post-surgery next month.

Embarking on the Next Stage of Life

So, where am I going in this next chapter? 🙂

These are my priorities, with more to come:

  • To give back to my fellow cancer victims and their families through blog posts, other social media, and related efforts.
  • To continue to publicize my FREE book on Surviving Cancer and Embracing Life: My Personal Journey. I want to reach as many people as I can with my inspirational message.

Embarking on the Next Stage of Life

  • To make further personal appearances and do more radio interviews on surviving cancer.
  • To expand my “giving back” scope to volunteer work with seniors, the poor, and others.
  • To write a sequel to Surviving Cancer on my experiences since the first book was published.
  • To do two vacation trips each year with the LOML (love of my life) Linda.
  • To see if I have it in me to write a novel, something I’ve never done before.
  • To keep on posting through my Evans on Marketing blog.
  • To teach one graduate course per year, during the fall semester.
  • To spend more time with my communities.
  • To continue to write about personal and professional self-branding — building on this brief FREE book: Self-Branding for Professional Success.

Embarking on the Next Stage of Life

And more to come!!

 

Live Life Every Day

Today, I am quite sad. More on that shortly.

In our blog, we have focused on the journeys of people with serious health issues. And sought to be inspiring through posts such as these: 

Why I am Sad Today

Over the weekend, the female half of one of my closest and dearest couples passed away. She was the same age as me. And she dealt with a plethora of health issues over the years. As has her husband. This post is in honor of them both. She suffered greatly. And as a survivor of a long-time marriage, he is suffering a lot now. They have been the NICEST  people I know.

Understand that you are in my heart and head. And always will be. The fond memories will not fade away. Rest in peace. 

Yet, we know that life goes on and that we must treasure each day, because we can be snatched away suddenly. As we’ve noted before: Try not to “throw away” any days. They are precious.

That’s why I find Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying” (written by Craig Michael Wiseman, James Timothy Nichols, and Tim Nichols) to be so inspirational. Even though the specific lyrics of the song mostly do not apply to me, the focus is on living life every day:
 

He said:
“I was in my early forties
With a lot of life before me
And a moment came that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days
Looking at the x-rays
Talkin’ ’bout the options
And talkin’ ’bout sweet time”

 

I asked him:
“When it sank in
That this might really be the real end
How’s it hit you
When you get that kind of news?
Man, what’d you do?”

 

He said:
“I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying”

 

And he said:
“Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying”

 

He said:
“I was finally the husband
That most of the time I wasn’t
And I became a friend a friend would like to have
And all of a sudden going fishin’
Wasn’t such an imposition
And I went three times that year I lost my dad
I finally read the Good Book, and I
Took a good, long, hard look
At what I’d do if I could do it all again.”

 

Sometimes the Road Is More Bumpy

As I wrote in my very first blog post for Living Well While Surviving Cancer: “I want to offer hope and support to those dealing with any terrible disease and their families.” At times, this refers to me as well. I’m doing my best to be upbeat and live as well as I can EVERY DAY. Sometimes, that’s not easy.

Last month, my wife Linda and I went on a cruise vacation that we were planning for months. The travel and itinerary both seemed within my capability range. Because of my health issues, we prepare carefully and wait until near the date of each of our trips to book everything. And we always get trip insurance.

The first few days of this trip were fine; and we had a great time. I even tried — unsuccessfully — to take a selfie while sightseeing. I may have a lot of skills, but taking pictures with my phone is not one of them. Yes, that is my hand blocking the scenery. LOL.

Sometimes the Road Is More Bumpy

Unfortunately, there was nothing very funny about the rest of our trip. On the third night of the cruise, I couldn’t stop shivering. And the ship’s doctor decided to send me ashore. We were docked in a good spot and the hospital I was sent to by ambulance was fine.

I was examined right away and admitted to ICU. It turns that somehow I had contracted double pneumonia with sepsis. In addition, I had a fever,  low blood pressure, and a low oxygen level. Pretty scary stuff. I was out of it, so I didn’t really know what was going on. However, Linda was petrified (again).

I was in ICU for 6 days. Then, I spent another 4.5 days in a regular hospital room.  Thankfully, the excellent doctors were able to mostly “fix what ailed me.” When I was able, we returned home.

How am I now, a short time later? My doctors at home tell me it may take up to six weeks to fully get over this illness. They have also ordered me not to fly for another 6 months or so. Nonetheless, I’m feeling much better today and looking forward to every day as it comes.

What’s my moral of the story? The same one I’ve been preaching to myself for years: Live life every day. We really don’t know what is around the corner. We can only play the hand we are dealt, and make the best of it. Yes, this was not my favorite trip by any means. But Linda and I did have a few good days at the beginning. And we have a LOT of memories to look back on and stories to tell. I LOVE YOU LINDA!!

Of course, we have insurance companies to battle with over my medical care, our return home, etc. That is part of what makes life so challenging.

 

I wish you all the very best on any travel you have coming up. And above all, stay well! 

 

Randy Pausch: The Last Lecture

This inspirational video is from a speech made by Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon University. To date, it has been viewed more than 19 million times. Sit back and watch. Note: It is 75 minutes long, so it may take a couple of viewings on your part. It is worth it!!

“Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch (Oct. 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008) gave his last lecture at the university Sept. 18, 2007, before a packed McConomy Auditorium. In his moving presentation, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” Pausch talked about his lessons learned and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals. For more on Randy, visit: http://www.cmu.edu/randyslecture .”

Today’s presentation is the third of three of the most inspiring speeches that I have ever seen. The first one we shared was Jim Valvano’s ESPY speech. The second was Steve Jobs’ incredible commencement speech at Stanford University.

 

Steve Jobs Commencement Speech

Many people know Steve Jobs as the charismatic founder and CEO of Apple. He was truly one of a kind. And when his shares in Pixar were acquired by Disney, he became the largest shareholder at Disney.

Fewer people know that Steve Jobs fought a long and tenacious battle with pancreatic cancer. He tried every possible treatment to prolong his life. But ultimately, he succumbed in October 2011.  [He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003.]

Today, we present the second of three of the most inspiring speeches that I have ever seen. The first one we shared was Jim Valvano’s ESPY speech. Below is Steve Jobs’ incredible and very personal commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005.