Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Reflections from the Home Team, February 23, 2014

Reflections from the Home Team, February 23, 2014


 "I've always believed life is about embracing the gifts and rising up to meet the challenges. We’ve been presented with another challenge, as I've recently been diagnosed with cancer. My father left me with a saying that I've carried my entire life and tried to pass on to our kids… Tough times don't last. Tough people do.”

-- Curt Schilling

Greetings from Cedar Falls. 

It's been a while since I've written a reflection... I wanted to wait until I reached a special milestone, that being my 5th Anniversary having been diagnosed with cancer.  You may recall it was on my 55th birthday, 5 years ago, February 26, 2009 that I learned I had stage 3 throat cancer and was not sure what the future would hold for me at that time. Well, here we are, five years later and I am fortunate enough to be celebrating my 60th birthday. I've been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to feel the love and support of family, friends, students and staff. Some difficult times along the way...but many reasons for joy and celebration.

As I’ve mentioned in my reflections, I am of the belief that God often times doesn’t save us “from something” like the scourge of cancer, but rather saves us “for something”.  I have had a number of friends and acquaintances over the past five years who have joined me in battling cancer… some are currently survivors like myself, and some have gone “home” to never again have to feel the pain and suffering that cancer can bring not only to themselves, but also to those they love. I have tried to share some of those experiences I’ve had with people along the way that have been so very meaningful to me, and I’ve often used baseball analogies to communicate those messages in an attempt to provide hope and some comfort to those who may be facing similar journeys. 

My next full check up is scheduled for March 20th in Iowa City and I’m hopeful for good news as I cross that 5 year Anniversary threshold. I’ll certainly keep you posted. As you know, I have dealt with some of the ups and downs of my journey through reading and writing my reflections.  Those of you who are baseball fans may be aware that one of my heroes, Curt Schilling, former “hard nosed” pitcher for the Boston Red Sox has recently been diagnosed with cancer. His wife Shonda is also a cancer survivor having been diagnosed back in 2001. 

Curt’s journey in the Major Leagues has been about “toughness”, one of the traits I have witnessed so many times from those who have battled this disease. That toughness has so often been demonstrated not only from a physical perspective, but also from a mental perspective. You may recognize the photos I’ve posted with this reflection from the 2004 American League Championship Series and the 2004 World Series. Curt displayed both physical and mental toughness in 2004 as he pitched in both series with his ankle tendon injury, and I’m confident will once again display the same toughness as he battles his cancer diagnosis. I’ve listed a brief summary of his 2004 pitching performance below:

The Red Sox Organization stated on Oct. 13, 2004 that RHP Curt Schilling would need surgery on his right ankle whenever the season ended. At that time, it was unknown if Schilling would be able to pitch again during the postseason. But thanks to a breakthrough medical procedure, the Red Sox medical staff sutured the loose tendon on Schilling’s right ankle, keeping it in place well enough for Schilling to be able to pitch effectively in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees.

The sutures were removed after Game 6, and then re-inserted the day before he pitched Game 2 of the World Series against the Cardinals. With his tendon literally being held together by thread, Schilling allowed a total of one earned run over 13 innings in those final two starts of the postseason, both of which were wins. 

As Curt says;"I've always believed life is about embracing the gifts and rising up to meet the challenges. We’ve been presented with another challenge, as I've recently been diagnosed with cancer. My father left me with a saying that I've carried my entire life and tried to pass on to our kids… Tough times don't last. Tough people do.” 

Couldn’t think of a better approach to fighting cancer!

My reading has also brought me to a Blog site known as “The Cure Baseball”. http://www.thecurebaseball.org/blog/

It’s a site dedicated to using baseball to raise the hopes, spirits, and awareness for people and families affected by cancer. “The Cure Baseball” is a nonprofit organization that strives to positively impact the lives of people and families who have been affected by cancer through a collegiate summer baseball team. Its founder, Alex Paluka lost his mother to Breast cancer as a young boy and he has used the organization to tie baseball and cancer together in a unique and personal way. I was especially touched by a blog entry entitled HOPE. Yet another way baseball has been used to provide strength and comfort to those battling cancer…

HOPE…. by “The Cure Baseball”

When we see, read or hear the word hope we instinctively think of all that we hope and wish for in our own lives. When a person who is affected by cancer comes in contact with the word, they simply find strength. The word hope for these people echoes a message that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that the battle they’re fighting cannot take away their will to live and to beat cancer. Hope is a very strong word when you look at it. It provides no solid answers, no promises, but more or less a feeling that promotes the best and the battle in all of us. It’s exactly what it means; hope is the feeling that no matter how unfavorable your odds may be, no matter how many doctors say you can’t or won’t make it, hope provides the will, the passion and the strength to continue to fight. 

Hope has provided us with abilities that we may have never experienced without it. There have been days when we couldn’t find the strength to get out of bed, a situation in our lives had taken away some of our strength, passion and lust for life. But it’s always been hope and the possibility of a brighter future that has reinstated that strength, passion and lust for life in all of us. For people affected by cancer hope is sometimes all they have left to hang on to. The hope they’ll see their kids one more time, hope the doctors will deliver good news or simply hope that they just stop hurting. Hope is not something we can buy, fake or fabricate. Hope knows no boundaries, ages, genders or races. It’s free to everyone and always welcomes anyone who wishes to embrace it.

Hope allows us to feel free, to feel strong and to fight on. As tough a situation may be, hope finds a way to ease the pain. What money cannot buy, hope gladly provides. We see hope every day we live, whether it’s embedded in our own lives or we become a witness to it. Hope is simple; it’s never far from grasp, although sometimes it may seem like its miles away. Hope never turns away in the toughest of times; it’s always waiting with open arms. Hope can be sparked by anything, a color, a symbol or even a team. 

Sometimes hope even seems to find us when we least expect it, when we’re at our worst, when we can’t even find the good in life. Hope lingers with the ones who embrace it. Hope allows us to hold on to it for as long as we want, it never pushes us away, and many times hope opens our eyes to the beauty of life. Hope can provide the key to success, the water to our fountain of youth and the strength to our battle. 

So why do we lose hope? Do we get caught up in numbers, figures, odds or even someone else’s opinions? Do we stray away from what makes us smile, laugh and love? Do we simply lose hope by losing our way, our mission or our purpose? Hope never loses us, we always seem to lose it. It is always the best feeling in the world when we find hope again. But what if we never lose it? What if we hope no matter what, no matter how bleak the outcome looks or how backed into a corner we may feel? What if we hope for other people, what if our hope makes people find their own hope? 

Just never stop HOPING!

To close, the words “toughness” and “hope” bring to mind what I have witnessed from many of those I have been fortunate enough to meet and interact with during my 5 year journey with cancer and I offer those words as words of encouragement for others facing a similar battle either themselves or with loved ones. As we live out our lives embracing the gifts we have been given, and rising up to meet the challenges we are faced with, remember, “Tough times don't last, but tough people do… if we keep hoping!”

Joshua 10:25   Joshua said to them, "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight."

Be well!

Sincerely, Dave

Link to: Reflections from the Home Team BLOG

Link to Vimeo: Reflections from the "Home Team"... Go the Distance

Link to: Tommy Emmanuel and "Angelina"