Commentary

March 27, 2012

Never saw this coming: Lessons learned in trying times

Written by: Staff
More articles by »

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas “” I had the world by the tail: U. S. Air Force Academy graduate, Air Force pilot, six-time commander, 30-year Air Force career, and two stars; fit, healthy and strong. But subtle problems appeared out of nowhere: occasional vertigo, mild persistent headaches, cognitive challenges, having to stop during a hard run.

I went to see the flight surgeon and was immediately referred to a neurologist. An MRI revealed a golf-ball sized tumor on the left temporal lobe of my brain and the doctor bluntly told me, “Your life will never be the same.” I was literally stunned.

Swelling was critical and I was admitted for surgery five days later. The surgeon briefed me on all that could go wrong, but the young Air Force captain performed expertly. He gets my vote if I ever need another surgery.

The tumor was successfully removed down to the microscopic level. The question remained: “Why did I have a tumor?” The news from the lab was not good: malignant growth from stage IV of the worst form of brain cancer.

After a few weeks of recovery from surgery, I felt like a million bucks. My fitness and strength were returning and I was back to full duty and physical activity. Also, I simultaneously started a six-week, aggressive anti-cancer radiation and chemotherapy treatment plan.

The doctors told me I would be fatigued, suffer nausea and lack energy from the treatment. To counter those potential symptoms, I got back in the weight room, back on my bike, back on the running trail, back on the golf course and back to full time duty as commander of the best organization in the Air Force “” Air Force Personnel Center!

The negative side effects never showed up. My fitness, strength and health remained good, but it was also the hundreds of emails, cards, letters and prayers from my family, friends, coworkers and even strangers that helped me keep my spirit up.

Last week, I completed my last of 30 radiation and 42 chemotherapy treatments and I still feel great! The next critical step is another MRI in a few weeks to see if the cancer has returned. I pray for good results.

I have learned a few lessons along the way that may help others who find they are facing tremendous challenges:

Be fit, be strong, and be healthy every day. Fitness is not about just passing the Air Force fitness test or deploying, it is about saving your life. A well rested, strong body and a healthy diet can help you fight off tough challenges when they come.

Life is short and precious. If there are things you want to accomplish in life, get busy now. “One day” and “someday” may never come. Push yourself to do more, now. Tomorrow is not promised, so do not waste a day.

Be positive. Brain tumors can be fatal, so there’s no room for defeatism; you have to fight a challenge like you intend to win. Leave negative thoughts behind and be ready to endure. Run your race like a winner. Attitude may be the number one component of success.

Be open and honest, up and down the chain. Our Air Force is a family. I have received the support of literally hundreds of kindred Airmen, with a big “A.” The Air Force has proven itself a family from our senior leadership to our youngest Airmen, including civilians and supporters. If folks know your challenges, they can help. My AFPC and A1 family have been magnificent. They have opened their arms and hearts, and carried me through the tough times.

Be a bouncer. Bad things sometimes happen. It is not a question of whether you will take a fall, so get over it. The question is, will you bounce back? It is really up to you. Be tough minded “” you are a warrior! Think like a winner and bounce.

Love your family. My wife, Areetha, has been the “wind beneath my wings” and my rock. She has been beside me every step of this journey and she insists I keep a positive attitude. She ran the Marine Corps Marathon last fall at age 50! She is 100 percent positive and endures. I thank God for having her as my wingman. My mom, sisters and extended family have also been my cheering section. They are irreplaceable and I love them dearly.

This is a tough, unexpected fight and it is not over. Our most humble “thank you” from Areetha and me. We are overwhelmed with your support, words of encouragement and prayers.

I’ve cleared a few hurdles but the fight is still on. I intend to win.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Michael Quiboloy

18th AF views March as model for Total Force Integration

U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Michael Quiboloy (Center)Lt. Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, commander, 18th Air Force, speaks with a group of Airmen on the future of the air mobility enterprise and total force integration, durin...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Matt Proietti

War’s end meant 452nd’s demise…for 20 months

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Matt Proietti Technical Sgt. Ed Hinrichs, left, and Staff Sgt. Harvey A. Shaw share memories of their time as B-17 Flying Fortress gunners at a 452nd Bomb Group Association reunion. (F...
 
 

Evaluating detox diets: Do they actually work?

When it comes to detox diets, women are a prime target for marketers, who promise a wide range of health benefits including increased energy, focus and immune function. Weight loss claims are also made for some detox plans. Yet these diets are not scientifically proven to be effective. The basic idea is that detox diets...
 

 

‘Lucky 13’ tips for a safe and happy Halloween

Whether you’re goblin or ghoul, vampire or witch, poor costume choices—including decorative contact lenses and flammable costumes—and face paint allergies can haunt you long after Halloween if they cause injury. Enjoy a safe and happy Halloween by following the “lucky 13” guidelines from FDA, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Centers for Disease Control...
 
 

VA guarantees its 21 millionth home loan

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced this month that it has guaranteed 21 million home loans since the Home Loan Guaranty program was established in 1944 as part of the original Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the “GI Bill.” This achievement comes during the year-long commemoration of 70 years...
 
 
ncsam-graphic

Online vigilance helps reduce security risks

I received at least five emails last week warning me to secure my social media settings and be aware of what I post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Why? Do you not like to see what I had for dinner last night? Too many #sel...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin