If you had to pick three words to describe the nominee, what would they be?
Compassionate, Determined, Willing
How has the nominee coped with adversity in their cancer journey?
The interesting thing is he always says that having cancer helped him discover the secret to facing adversity, which was completely at its peak with an unexpected cancer diagnosis. The doctors looked him in the face and told him he had an aggressive form of cancer that would kill him if left untreated, he would endure two years of chemotherapy and treatments with severe side effects. One day at treatment, he looked over at me and said, "You know the secret to getting through cancer? Focus on others more than yourself and your problems suddenly seem really small in comparison." Some days were still really hard and he still had to endure a lot. This wasn't a cure. I think it was his best medicine because I saw the change in his ability to endure the adversity that continued to come his way throughout the two years of chemotherapy.
In what ways does the nominee bring the mantra of "get busy living" into their day-to-day life?
One of the biggest disappointments he faced at diagnosis was being told he could no longer participate in some sports and extra curricular activities he really enjoyed. I think this bummed him out more than finding out he was going to go bald prematurely compared to most guys. Then at about 6 months into his treatment plan, a buddy took him to a hockey game to try to cheer him up. He was so inspired by this sport. So right then and there he decided he was not only going to fight like hell to beat this thing but he was going to come back stronger. He watched so many people around him get through it alive but not really alive. They beat the cancer but they let it beat them somehow. He didn't want that. So he said, I am going to set this crazy goal to play hockey. Ice hockey! He didn't even know how to ice skate at the time and the doctors told him no way. So he ordered a hockey stick, a puck, a net, some books off e-bay about how to play hockey and you tube became his coaches and mentors. He would literally get home from chemo, shower and go outside and stick handle and shoot pucks over and over for hours. He would read, study, watch the sport. He learned everything he could off the ice. He said setting this crazy goal gave him something to look forward to, something to dream about and hope for and work towards and he felt alive once again. He was tired of just dreaming of survival so he got busy living right then. And it spilled over into the rest of his cancer journey. He began to live again and not just hope to live. Life wasn't over and he didn't want to act like it was until the day or minute it was.
What is unique about the way the nominee gets busy living?
I think he is unique because he has the ability to not only endure and face adversity but he also has the ability to inspire others to get busy living and face their struggles. He encourages others to look beyond their current circumstances in a way that is effective. When I watch someone walk up to him and tell him they are a better doctor, or CEO, or business owner, or athlete because of him or his story I know he is unique. Many people can and do make their own lives better but he has somehow made others want to live better lives.
How has the nominee impacted you directly?
Well, as his caregiver I witnessed all of the above and there is no way to see this up close and personal and not be affected. I faced a horrific and unexpected trial of my own and he was a huge reason I was able to get through it. It also always impacted me how people reacted to him or assumed his strength.