I woke up this morning thinking it was time to write another blog post. Just as that thought passed through my mind, two other phrases came to me: Yogi Berra’s famous “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over,” followed by the term “remission.” Why? Because they have a simpatico relationship.
This is an important topic as it relates to remission, but one that I didn’t cover in my book. Let me explain…
Is Remission the End of a Cancer Battle?
If you are a cancer patient or family member, every ounce of your being is probably hoping, praying and busting your tail to one day hear your doctor say… “I have good news. Your most recent test results indicate that your cancer is in remission.”
Remission, to those battling cancer, represents the end, the finish line and a cause for celebration. Or does it?
When I hear the word remission, I have a slightly different mindset and think of the phrase that Yogi Berra made famous… ”It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over.”
What do I mean by this?
It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over
Remission Truth#1: Remission does represent the end of something: the end of the current treatment regimen.
Remission represents the successful completion of your treatment regimen and you should feel good about your effort and outcome. You must, however, never let your guard down in this battle against cancer and accept that additional scans and/or strategic treatment(s), may be required in the future depending on the cancer type.
Remission Truth #2: Remission does represent the finish line, the finish line for this phase of your cancer journey.
Remission represents the finish line for this phase of your cancer journey but doesn’t mean you should automatically go back to the life you had pre-diagnosis. After you give yourself some time to celebrate and re-charge your battery, you will also want to re-assess any lifestyle issues that may have been contributing factors to your cancer diagnosis – personal health issues, financial issues, stress-related issues, dysfunctional relationships, bad eating habits, etc. Since you are starting this next phase of your life with virtually a clean slate, now may be a good time to start the regular exercise program or get serious about losing the 10+ pounds you’ve been talking about. Or consider quitting the dead-end job or leaving the relationship that no longer brings you joy and happiness.
Remission Truth #3: Remission does represent a cause for celebration, a cause for celebrating life!
Yes, remission represents a significant accomplishment and cause for celebration with your cancer support team. You will also want to start living your life without everything being solely about cancer or its treatment. You had to put your life on hold temporarily to fight this formidable health opponent; now it’s time to begin making time for loved ones, or for doing things for yourself that you have always wanted to do. What are you waiting for?
So Is It Ever Over?
If you’re in remission, congratulations. You have won the battle. So show off your battle scars and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Live life on your terms but also remember to never stop fighting!
If you’re a competitive or professional athlete, you probably know a lot about goal setting (and achieving those goals). But if you’re not, I am going to share the life lessons I learned from a tremendous experience and privilege I had in my youth that set me on a path to successful goal setting and attainment.
I had the good fortune to participate in the Cumberland Valley High School football program under legendary head football coach Harry C. Chapman III. In the 1970’s and 80’s, Coach Chapman’s football program had an off-season workout component that would rival most 2019 major college football off-season conditioning programs.
The start of summer takes me back in time to the days spent taking part in Coach Chapman’s summer workout sessions with teammates in the CV gym and at the track. And when I go back in time, I hear the same voice in my head that I heard 40 years ago, calling out his go-to words of encouragement…Fellas, get your weights!
The following quote, credited to former Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Tom Landry, provides readers with insight into Coach Chapman’s off-season program philosophy “… I believe in getting a team prepared so it knows it will have the necessary confidence when it steps on the field and be prepared to play a good game.” Coach Chapman’s off-season program emphasized the five following key goal-setting principles. Each one includes a “key takeaway” that you can use in your next goal setting exercise, whether that’s related to sports, business, a fight against cancer … or anything else in life.
Principal #1: Define Both Team and Individual Goals
Coach Chapman emphasized a team-first mentality, and the importance of individuals maximizing their athletic abilities for the betterment of the team. He would sit down with each player at the end of the school year and set specific strength, agility and conditioning exercise goals for their summer workout program.
Key takeaway #1: Have anyone responsible for achieving the desired goals participate in an exercise that sets both team and individual goals. This ensures buy-in, personal responsibility and accountability by all participants.
“You can’t hit a target you cannot see, and you cannot see a target you do not have.” – a Zig Ziglar favorite quote of close high school friend and teammate #85 Edward “Spike” Zionkofski
Principal #2: Maintain Consistency and Dedication to Goals
Coach Chapman held morning and evening workout sessions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the summer. It was understood that players would attend one session a day. And the sessions weren’t easy: They began with a weight-lifting period–players recorded the weight and reps attempted for each exercise–followed by a circuit of timed agility exercise stations set up in the gymnasium. After the agility circuit, Coach Chapman would take the players to the track for stretching and a recorded distance and/or a speed workout.
Key takeaway #2: Have a regular routine that everyone follows. This ensures a consistent level of effort is directed toward achieving their goals over an extended period.
“There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” – Derek Jeter
Principal #3: Establish Benchmark Testing and Reporting Procedures
Coach Chapman would test and record key exercises (e.g., half squats, single and five rep bench, 40 yard dash, mile run etc.) for all players throughout the summer. To motivate and inspire players, he would post charts on the walls listing all players and their personal best for each recorded exercise. He also recorded new personal bests in his highly-sought-after “blue ink.” These methods encouraged players to continually strive to receive “blue ink” and a “good effort” acknowledgement from Coach Chapman.
Key takeaway #3: Have a method of regularly monitoring and tracking your progress. This ensures that you are taking the right steps to achieve your goals. If you determine you are not on the right track, you can modify your strategy or plan to ensure you achieve the desired results.
“When you’ve got something to prove, there’s nothing greater than a challenge.” –Terry Bradshaw
Principal #4: Create a Culture That Fosters Competition and Teamwork
Coach Chapman used to get really fired up when he was testing/recording players, especially when a player was attempting a new personal best. His enthusiasm was contagious, and often resulted in a crowd of teammates gathering around to encourage the player to succeed. Call it motivation, fear of embarrassment, or a sense of pride, but you always felt compelled to give it your all; and more importantly, to not let your teammates down.
Key takeaway #4: Establish a positive and competitive environment that fosters peak individual performance and team unity. This ensures a “team first” mindset and mentality for any team, group or organization
“You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.” – Michael Jordan
Principal #5: Persevere, Persevere, Persevere
Coach Chapman’s football program emphasized the importance of perseverance in all activities, both on the football field and in the classroom. This phrasing–along with persistence, mental toughness, hard work and overcoming adversity–were commonly-repeated themes that you heard when you were in the presence of Coach Chapman.
Key takeaway #5: Have the physical and mental toughness, as well as intestinal fortitude, to overcome the challenges that occur in football, the classroom or in life. In summary, I have found that very little is given to us in life, and most successes are the result of hard work, persistence and perseverance.
“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”- John Wooden
Coach Harry C. Chapman III’s goal-setting principles and coaching philosophy has had a positive impact throughout my life and for that I am truly grateful. I believe that Coach Chapman’s goal setting principles can be used by anyone to help ensure that they not only meet–but exceed–their desired life goals.
A special thanks to my close grade school friends and teammates #13 Harry C. “Four” Chapman IV and #72 Brian “Bull” Bullock for their contributions to the creation of this blog.
I would also like to acknowledge the countless hours the early 1980’s CV Football Coaching Staff — Coach Harry Chapman, Coach Butch Bricker, Coach Bob Crobak, Coach Ron Audo, Coach Joe Correal, Coach Tom Uhrich and Coach Jim Hess — invested in teaching young men how to compete and conduct themselves both on and off the football field.
In a recent blog post, I referenced the phenomena of catchy phrase(s); the ones that become staples in pop culture and stick in our minds — sometimes for years. Well, there is a line from a cellular phone commercial that comes to mind. You know the one… Can you hear me now? Good. Can you hear me now? Good. Can you hear me now? Good.
Can You Hear Me Now? Can Your Body?
So I’d like to provide you with a slightly different perspective on this famous Can you hear me now? line. To do this, I want to share with you another favorite inspirational quote that I found during my mother, Maxine’s, cancer battle. The quote is credited to Rhonda Byrne and goes like this:
Whatever you believe about your body, your cells believe too. They don’t question anything you think, feel, or believe. In fact, they hear every thought, feeling, and belief you have.”
Do you see where I’m going with this? This statement says that your body is always listening for clues from your brain as to how you are thinking, feeling or believing at that particular moment in time.
If your mind is filled with positive inputs or vibes… “This is no big deal”… “I can handle this”…”This is in my wheelhouse”…your body processes these thoughts or cues and reacts accordingly.
The same holds true if your mind is filled negative inputs or vibes….”This is a big problem”… “I don’t know if I can do this”….”I’m a-scared.” Can your body hear you now? You bet it can.
More About the Mind-Body Connection
To reinforce this point, I’d like to share the following additional quotes with you:
• Cogito ergo sum, “I think therefore I am.” – Rene Descartes
• “As you think, so shall you become.” – Bruce Lee
• “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” – James Allen
If you have read any of my other blog posts, you know by now that I’m a big believer in the power of the mind, and the impact that having a positive outlook on life can have on your health.
The first two quotes say to me that we are — and we become — a mosaic of what we think, feel and believe. Can your body hear you now, Roger that.
The third quote by James Allen further validates that who we are (and what we will become) is nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy of how our minds process thoughts, feelings and beliefs about past, present and anticipated future life experiences.
In an earlier blog post I cited a classic Clint Eastwood (aka Inspector Harry Callahan) line from the movie Magnum Force: “A man has got to know his limitations.” I used it to emphasize a point on giving and givers. Well, I think it’s time to dust off another well-known Inspector Callahan line from the movie “Dirty Harry.” This one is in reference to a bad habit that many of us have: ignoring early signs or symptoms of an illness, otherwise known as choosing to bury your head in the sand.
Do You Feel Lucky?
Inspector Callahan is on a dock, at the end of the movie, staring down the barrel of his 44 Magnum that is pointed at the villain. As the villain makes a move toward a gun, just out of reach, Inspector Callahan says to the villain: ”…I know what you’re thinking, did he fire six shots or five…You’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do you feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?”
So what does this have to do with ignoring symptoms? Well, if you have a nagging health issue, you have two choices. One is to bury your head in the sand and hope that it goes away. The other is to go to a doctor and find out for sure. And if you choose the former, then there is one question that you have to ask yourself: Do you feel lucky?
The Dangers of Opting to Bury Your Head in the Sand
Your body has various ways of telling you when there is something wrong. You may have a pain; an ailment or discomfort; or a feeling of being “out of it” that stays with you for an extended period of time. It’s important to keep in mind that most nagging health issues don’t just go away. The longer you wait to diagnose and treat them, the higher the cost of the medical care and the longer it takes for the body to heal.
And if your health matter turns out to be serious (e.g., cancer, heart disease, etc.), you may actually be giving the disease a head start in a race that could have a finite time period to treat or cure.
There is also a negative impact that comes with the stress of worrying what’s wrong. Wouldn’t it be simpler just to face it head on?
Today’s the Day to Face Your Fears
I hope that this blog post sheds light on the importance of listening to your body and taking action when you have a health matter that won’t go away. This also holds true for family members. If you notice that a loved one seems to be out of sorts, encourage him or her to go get checked out.
So if ignoring symptoms is your thing, or if you tend to choose the bury your head in the sand approach to resolving health issues, then let me ask you this: Do you feel lucky? Well, do you? And is it really worth the gamble?
” Inspirational for any and all that are dealing with cancer. ”-Tina Johnson