Monday, June 27, 2016

Be Present

Watch this video. Copy and paste the link into your browser.

For those of you that are not NASCAR fans, Sherry Pollex is the girlfriend of NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr.  She was diagnosed in 2014 with ovarian cancer.  She endured over a year of grueling treatment.  She is healthy now.

I followed Sherry and Martin's journey before I was sick and during my treatment.  Sherry seemed to handle things with such beauty and grace.  When I would see her on TV, I had a little insight of where she was at with treatment based on how she looked.  There is only so much makeup can cover when you're battling cancer and the poison you're putting in your body to kill the cancer.  I know the look when you're smiling but in your mind you're counting the seconds until you can collapsed on a couch for a nap.

 I prayed for her recovery as well as my own.

Last Sept at Chicagoland Speedway, I yelled to Martin on the red carpet that we were praying for Sherry's recovery.  He stopped in the midst of signing autographs and said "thank you" in my direction.  He didn't know who had yelled but in a crowd of fans he took a second to acknowledge a kindness.  He was human.  He wasn't a super hero piloting a 3500lb vehicle into a turn 3 wide at 210mph.  He was a man, who had a loved one battling an insidious disease.

When we went to Daytona in February, I was rooting for Martin and listened in to his radio transmissions during the race.  He lost that race by 4 inches.  In May, NASCAR races a 600 miler at Charlotte.  Martin won it leading 392 of 400 laps...sheer domination.  Tears streamed down my face as the camera followed Sherry in the closing laps and then when they met in Victory Circle. won the race.  You won the battle.  So did I.

Something Sherry said in the interview struck such a chord with me, she credited Steve Byrnes with her mantra. 

"Be present"

 Steve Byrnes was a broadcaster for Fox Sports who sadly passed from head and neck cancer last April.  I followed him on Twitter during our battles and he was in my prayers as well.

When I visited my oncologist last June before returning to my office to work, he told me to go out an enjoy life.  He was telling me to be present.  I find that I notice things more than I did before.  The sky isn't just blue on a beautiful day, it's cobalt or cerulean or azure.  The grass isn't just green, it's avocado, fern, or moss. Not everyone is lucky enough to see the distinctions.  How many people never look up from their phone or computer to even notice.

Be present.

Listen to a child's laughter...the sound of a bird.
Look for fireflies, four leaf clovers.
Smell fresh baked cookies, the woods after a rain.

Toward the end of the interview, Sherry talks about how your perspective changes when you get cancer.  I talked about it a bit in this blog.  It may sound trite but it's true.

It's too bad it takes a life threatening diagnosis to adjust perspective for some people.  Every day is a gift.  We just need to be present to realize it and enjoy it.

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