After “Cancer” Thoughts

Prologue: Tom and I met a couple of years ago through business, quickly figured out we have many things in common and struck up a friendship. The first of this year I got a call from Tom and he said, we now have one more thing in common, I have cancer. That was tough news, because I knew exactly what he was going through. Sharing that news with your loved ones it one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Then you start dealing with the facts, I’m going to go through grueling treatment and life maybe shorter than I thought. Months later Tom made a comment, “I don’t think this is something you can readily explain to others, maybe you have to have cancer to understand what it’s like”. I agreed. Hopefully, you never join our club. Some of you know all to well what we mean.

Luckily, for Tom and I, we have strength many people don’t have. At some time along the path of our lives we both decided to trust in God. In doing so we found a rock to stand on in the storm. As far as storms go, this is about as strong as it gets. But we just said, God, we trust you. Apparently, God’s not done with us yet! At this time we are both cancer free. And the experience has given us an insight, that most of us pay little attention too. That is, life on this earth maybe shorter than we think. In reality, we are only one breath away from eternity. So what will we do with this day, knowing how precious it is?

Below is Tom’s post from his blog

On July 5th, my wife and I received amazing news.  News that changed our lives.  We were told that I was cancer free.  Praise God!  TGBTG!

As I reflected on that news over the last ten days, my outlook on life seemed different.  Everything I did seemed to have new meaning and new purpose.  My response changed.  I realized, “I get to …”.

Like many of you, I would make a list every week and then seek to knock it out at all costs.  I would figure out what I needed to get done, who I needed to call to help me and how long it would take – so I could move on to the next task.  My approach has changed.  I still make the same list, but I look at it from a different perspective.  I look at it and say to myself, “I get to do such and such and I get to do it with so and so”.

I found that my natural “getter done at all costs” personality and my “drive it until it is complete” nature had shifted.  I found myself being more docile, more agreeable, and less argumentative.  I found that I was being kinder and friendlier.  I was seeking common ground.  Mutual help.  I found myself seeking harmony and reconciliation above all.  I was complaining less about things and about people.  The standard I was holding people to was high, very high.  I backed off my self-imposed standard to meet them where they were and to see how I could help.  Why, because it still gets done and life is short, very short.  Life is too short not to have relationship be more important than task.

I didn’t lose my passion.  Several times this week, I had to hold my tongue, eat my words, or change my thoughts so that I didn’t allow my passion to turn to pride and destroy a relationship.  I had to slow down and allow for buy in, to allow for understanding and to allow for growth.  I had to realize that my way wasn’t the only way.  I had to humble myself.  I still desire to achieve at high levels, but I lost my desire to do it at the cost of a relationship.  Relationships come first.  People are important.  They are the most important thing.

My response is simple, “I get to …”.  Not just that “I get to … but that, “I get to love”, first.  This is not a new idea to me, as I love people.  However, as I reflect back, I didn’t always lead with love. I would get things out of order and sometimes I would forget that I am dealing with people and people deserve love first, above all.

We are called to “lead with love” just as our father in Heaven did.  Jesus laid down his life out of love.  He died on the cross just so we don’t have to suffer in Hell for eternity.  He made a way for us to live in love forever.  His sacrifice is evidence of His love for all of us.

My prayer for you, if you want to join me, is to remember to love first.  Jesus’s example of sacrificial love is the highest form of love one can give.  As you go throughout your day, I hope you will remember that “you get to lead with love”, too.  People matter.  Let’s get the word out.  No excuses, no guarded responses, and no politically correct phrases … speak the truth in love and remember that “you get to” change lives one at a time forever.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world (us), that He gave his one and only son (Jesus), that whoever believes in Him shall not perish (live in Hell eternally), but have eternal life (live in Heaven eternally).”

John 3:35-36 “The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands.  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”

I love you all and can’t wait until our paths cross again and “we get to love” together.

Tom O’Keefe

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