Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Encouragement and Hope

I feel so blessed. It has now been over 20-months since my hemiglossectomy. I have able to travel, have resumed my public speaking, and have been able to return to as "normal" a life as I could imagine. Although I continue to face the ups and downs that we all experience, like the process of rebuilding a business or suddenly finding myself single, there have been so many blessings along the road.

I have had numerous people find this blog while searching the term "hemiglossectomy" or "tongue cancer" and they have "friended" me on Facebook or emailed me as a result. Having the common bond of the fears and pain that aggressive tongue cancer brings with it has been a blessing for me and for them. It doesn't matter what type of cancer you are faced with though. Realizing that inside your body is a pack of cells that want to do their best to end your life is more than unsettling. For all of the advances in medicine, fighting cancer still feels like a barbaric war. Chemical warfare... atomic energy that is used to make superheros in the movies but decimates parts of us instead. And after the battle, we have to deal with the aftermath, scars and wounds that lie deeper than we really ever thought was possible. We have a choice though. We can wallow in self-pity, or realize we are blessed to even have our next breath and yet another day to make a difference. The words we speak amidst the war we fight will live on longer than we will survive. Will those words be full of bitterness or encouragement and hope?

When Molly Shen from KOMO TV 4 (Seattle's ABC affiliate) came to my home to interview me last month, she confirmed that my surgeon had been badly burned on his arms and hands last year and was unable to perform surgeries for a while. He told her that he had reflected on my conversations with him during my treatment at Virginia Mason Hospital and my words, attitude and perspective was a part of what helped him get through his own ordeal. You can read the story and watch the video on the KOMOnews.com site here.

Although I still am a business and marketing consultant and speak on various topics, I am feeling a tug in my heart to begin giving people tools and encouragement when they face adversity. You may have heard of "TED Talks" or have seen some of their viral videos on the web, email or via Facebook. I was told that they are coming to Olympia, Washington in September and were looking for speakers. The theme for the Olympia presentations is "The Point of No Return." They wanted speakers to submit their stories about how something happened in their lives that changed their lives and the course of their future. I thought, "Bingo! That is EXACTLY me! Of course they will want to hear me tell my story. I'm already comfortable in front of audiences!" I even planned my fall national seminar schedule around my inevitable selection from the TED Talk people. I was so excited that my story would be able to help millions.

And then the email arrived. "You were not selected..."

At first I was hurt and dismayed. Then I realized that every time something like this has happened, God had a better, bigger plan. The next day I secured the name of this blog as a website – http://www.NotWhatYouHadPlanned.com. It currently forwards to this blog, but the "Encouragement Talks" (only a working title) will be coming as my schedule allows. If you have a story and are comfortable telling it on video, send me a short email of your story with "Encouragement Talks" in the subject line and I'll get back to you in the near future.

My heart's desire is in talking with others, encouraging them, helping them see that there is hope when all hope seems lost. Whether an audience of one or thousands, I want to use the life that I have left to be a blessing and change our world through kindness, encouragement, hope and being a blessing to everyone I meet. In the KOMO News video, I say "I am not afraid to die... I am afraid not to live." 

Be a blessing to someone today. We are not guaranteed a chance to have the opportunity to do so tomorrow. 

Robert B. Haase
A Blessed Man