In today’s society, a lot of emphasis is placed on winning and losing. But why? And what is the definition of “win” anyway?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of everyone getting a “feel-good” ribbon for participating in an event. In fact, I’ve found that some of life’s most valuable lessons are acquired through experiencing the competitive thrill of victory or agony of defeat. But when we’re talking about a cancer diagnosis and battle or contest, it’s an entirely different ballgame.

Winning Isn’t Everything? Really?

Seldom does the topic of winning come up, in any aspect of life, without mention of the famous quote: “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” That quote is often attributed to the legendary head football coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi. And yet, you may be surprised to learn that in the documentary titled Lombardi, a sportswriter recounts a conversation with Coach Lombardi where the Coach told him, “I wish to hell I’d never said [that].”

Coach Lombardi went on to say, “What I believe is, if you go out on a football field, or any endeavor in life, and you leave every fiber of what you have on the field, then you’ve won.”

Apparently, Coach Lombardi learned some life lessons after his famous quote. It made him rethink his definition of win.

You vs. Cancer: The Definition of “Win”

The cancer battle discussed throughout Know Your Enemy isn’t “won” in the traditional sense.

I believe, as Coach Lombardi, that to win means having the physical and mental toughness to take on this enemy head-on, with every ounce of your being every day. It requires a total commitment to doing whatever it takes in terms of the team you build and the treatments that you pursue, and leaving nothing on the table. Lastly, it means surrounding yourself with your faith, family, and friends to help you to navigate one of life’s most difficult challenges.

If you were to ask me what is the one thing readers should take away from this book, I would say it is having an understanding that in cancer, as in life, there are many factors beyond our control—stage, type, detection, genetic composition, environment, diet, fate, etc.—all of which will play a role in determining the outcome of the battle.

It’s important to remember to focus your time and energy on the things you can control or change. As the Serenity Prayer says:

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

And wisdom to know the difference.

That is the secret to standing tall against the enemy. That is the definition of “win.”

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