Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cancer as Opportunity

A fellow cancer survivor sent me a link to this video that's been circulating on the Internet. It's the last lecture given by a professor to his students. He has pancreatic cancer and was told he has a few months to live. And no, this isn't a story about beating the beast; it's about final life lessons from a dying man -- a bit like the professor in "Tuesdays with Morrie".

This guy doesn't say anything extraordinary or new. In fact, you could argue that he sounds a lot like those "inspirational" plaques about teamwork and determination that adorn the walls of company coffee break rooms. He advises us to follow our dreams, work hard, enjoy life, value people over things, be humble, honest, patient. Nothing new.

But the fact that he is the father of three very young children and has only a few months to live gives his words meaning and poignancy. He also happens to be a very engaging and entertaining speaker.

There are a few good things about having cancer:

1) People listen to you when you talk about values and life lessons -- people who would otherwise just dismiss you as a preacher of platitudes.

2) You have the opportunity to show people what you're really made of. My friends say they're impressed with the way I've been handling myself throughout my cancer experience, but how do they know they wouldn't do the same in my shoes? I have the unique opportunity to show everyone my best qualities under trying circumstances. Most people never get that chance. I almost feel sorry for all of you who don't have cancer. (Not really).


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the video very much-very inspirational.I think everyone should watch it.

Anonymous said...

I think the starting point of critique is the motive behind the video. The man thought of his children and this is his legacy for them. To some, what he said may not be new knowledge... what matters is his intention. THE BEING IS GREATER THAN THE DOING. I believe INTEGRITY is a much valued quality that not many possess BUT MANY JUST PAY LIP-SERVICE TO.