A lot of people around me have used superlatives to describe me since my fight with cancer started back in October. I've earned that, I think. I've kept the same attitude the entire time. No matter how depressed I get or how sad or how I feel like it's not fair, I just refuse to give in. I'm not going to be the guy who let some rogue cells in my throat change who I am or beat me. I'm a fighter, and if I wasn't sure about that before this, I sure as hell am now.
But it's not as easy as I make it look. I put on a happy face every day, stick my chin out and dare the world to hit it. Then, when it does, I laugh, wipe up the spit, and stick it out again. Why? Because that's what I do. I fight. Because if I don't? I'll die. It's sobering to stare your own mortality in the face day in and day out and, at the same time, know that the only thing separating you from being six feet under are some chemicals that are so toxic people who aren't ingesting them shouldn't handle them. It's sobering knowing that if I let my guard down or ignore my doctors even for a minute I'm putting my life into a claw machine and hoping I don't pull out a crap prize. It's all stuff you aren't prepared for until you face it down.
Lately, my body has been betraying me more than usual. I'm nauseous all the time. I'm tired, randomly. None of my systems are working at 100% all the time. Oh sure, for the most part I'm okay, and at 232 pounds I'm lighter than I've ever been as an adult. In fact, I was 250 when I graduated high school, so there you go. Aside from that, though, there are days where I just hate everything, everyone, and all the things about my current situation. I can't stand, sometimes, for more than half an hour at a time. There are days when I'm overcome with nausea so bad I feel like I'm going to die and all I can do is sit in front of an air conditioner and hope for the best. My hands shake, my stomach turns, and I have to pop a medication that sends all kinds of mis-signals to my brain to say "hey, it's okay, you're fine" to calm down my stomach and make my life bearable. My back and my right rib cage are a constant source of pain. I don't have the muscle strength in my back (yet) to sit upright without support for any length of time, and it's even worse for standing. I have trouble getting into a comfortable position to sleep in and some nights I wake up coughing, for no reason and spend hours awake in a coughing fit because my lungs, while mostly healed from my surgery, are still not 100%.
Why am I telling you this? It's simple. You guys don't see that side of it because I don't show it to you. I struggle, and honestly I struggle more than I like to admit. Sometimes it's a struggle just getting out of bed and facing the day, and I do it because I don't know any other way to be. A friend of mine was going through some stuff a week ago and I told her that progress can't be measured by how you feel on any given day. Progress is not something you can measure without the context of the day before. I may feel like crap today, but I feel less like crap today than I did yesterday then I'm winning. That's my win for the day. I wake up, my feet hit the ground and I have one less ache than I did the day before, or my stomach isn't trying to exit through my mouth, or I drink an entire Snapple with breakfast and actually enjoy it. Progress is progress, and as long as today is better than yesterday, you have a good amount of hope that tomorrow will be better than today and it's justified. I fight because I have to. Because I know no other way. I struggle. I hurt. I feel sick. And in the end, I do not let that stop me because I would hate myself in a profound way if I gave in to it. When people first said I was an inspiration to them, I didn't know how to handle it. I didn't want to be an inspiration, I just wanted to live, but then one day I realized that was the inspiration: my drive to live put everything else in my back pocket and I decided I wasn't going to allow it to get to me.
If I can get up and get out of bed and do what I do every day, you can. If I can fight cancer, fight the sickness my chemo causes, fight the pain from recovering from surgery, and still work a day job and build my business, you need to go over to your nearest mirror, look at the person looking back at you and ask them "What's holding me back?" Whatever is stopping you, get rid of it, fight it, destroy it, and move on because there's always going to be something in your way. What you do about it determines where you're headed personally and professionally. In episode 3 of season 3 of Jessica Jones, Jerri Hogarth says "In spite of being fundamentally alone and vulnerable, I get out of bed every day and I win." Get out of bed and win. Because winners win.