That is what my kiddos call the baby hair growing back on my head. It has been almost two weeks of growth now and my scalp is no longer ghost pale as if I were wearing a tight, white speedo swim cap. When I ask the doctors if it will all grow back, they answer, “Probably, but maybe not. We will see.” That is a pretty common answer from my doctors. Apparently, we are in somewhat uncharted waters.
Two weeks ago, I stood in my driveway as my oldest son, Shawn, gave me a hug, climbed into his SUV, and drove away down the street. He waved to me, and as I waved back I whispered, “God, please bless your son as he rides into this next chapter of his life in pursuit of his dream to play quarterback in college.”
Last week was my 56thbirthday and the outpouring of best wishes from family and friends near and far was humbling to my heart. Unbeknownst to most, my wife and I were called to Duke Hospital for unscheduled blood tests and a visit with my oncologist earlier in the week, July 3rd. The timing was eerily similar to five years ago, almost to the day, when I received a phone call from Duke telling me I had leukemia…
It is February of 2018 already. Time flies, and I say that with all respect in the world for time, given that four-and-a-half years ago I sat in a room at Duke University Oncology with an IV in my arm delivering toxic chemicals into my system in hopes of beating down the leukemia cells that had taken over 95% of my blood.
Every year I write a forward-looking “life plan” for the coming calendar year in which I try to narrate and document specific actionable items to do, accomplish or emphasize throughout the year. The idea actually began as an offshoot of an annual business plan, a template for income and commission sales I expected in that year.
It has been quite the start to a new year already, this 2017. 2016 ended with ten weeks of outpatient intravenous chemotherapy before my family and I headed to Pittsburgh for the holidays. Unfortunately a bone marrow biopsy revealed that the drugs I was being administered did not make enough improvement against the leukemia, so we decided to start a different protocol.
It has been a challenging couple of months to end this summer for me as far as energy, focus, and activity goes. Last Monday, I went to Duke oncology for my routine blood tests that track how active the leukemia cells are in my system. It has been 22 months since I began the new “miracle drug” that has shown a strong ability to control the disease in patients with my diagnosis for up to two years. ‘So far so good’ has been our motto.
I love my wife and I have no doubt she loves me. That being said, there are some things that we just have to agree to disagree about; one of them is driving. I don’t know when it happened, but I have become a very slow and cautious driver these past couple years. I used to call these kind of drivers “Mr. and Mrs. Fossil”...
I realize not many (if any!) people care about MY golf game, but my point actually isn’t about golf. I have looked at my life using the same lens of no longer wanting to be 'good at doing it wrong.’ Where else can that apply? Fatherhood? Marriage? As a son, or brother, or friend? As a mentor or coach or advisor?
I sat there, marinating in thought and still slightly unsettled at heart. Perhaps I was anxious about my blood test, or troubled by the news on TV and concern for our country, or both. Just then I heard the voice in my heart again. "Scott, your soul has no color either. Color is your issue, not mine.” I looked up above the top of the Chapel.
"The key is always to follow your passion. And that’s all I ever recommend others do. After all the hours of classroom and field work with our quarterback students, you still never know who it is going to effect, or when you are going to inspire one to change the lives of thousands either on or off the field." - Coach Wilson
Even though it may not end up that my leukemia is cured and I live happily ever after until I am 80 some years of age. Even though so many have prayed fervently for me and our family. Even if the chemistry fails. Is my faith still intact and strong enough to endure, and live and love exactly the same as I have been?
There are lots of possible reasons for my forgetfulness but I have chosen to spend whatever precious mental and physical energy I have on things that I can control and things that have more long term meaning and significance. So, if you are ever talking with me, and I just blurt out "iguanas" and then chuckle, bear with me. I may or may not be able to locate the right word, but those close to me will know what I mean, and that’s really all that matters.
Individually, I realize that we can’t possibly help ALL of these causes in our lifetime, but I guess my realization is that perhaps we are each touched by some of these challenges in our lives so that we will be drawn into the battle that each one represents. Drawn into action to support families and patients of veterans, teachers or ex-offenders because they need our help.