I wrote this note early in the morning on December 31, 2017.  As you read this blog, think of this as beginning with the end in mind.  Here I am happily on the other side of my battle with cancer, reflecting on the journey and thanking people who joined the battle.  Enjoy.

I hope you are in a safe, comfortable and welcoming place as we prepare to say goodbye to 2017 and welcome in 2018. However you prefer to spend this time, I wish you peace of mind, a spirit of gratitude, and inspirational goals for your future.
You might think that I am more than ready to put 2017 astern. In many respects, you would be right. It was a year that I would not want to repeat. The cancer, medical appointments, treatments, tests, pain, hospital time, loss of physical energy and strength, inability to eat, seemingly endless medications are happily behind me. But in spite of the very challenging and difficult times, there was so much good during this very different journey.

Because of my ordeal, I experienced love, caring and support like I had never known. I was humbled and I learned to be a “receiver”. I experienced the power of prayer in a very personal, intimate way.

My family grew closer and stronger. We were challenged, for sure, and had times of worry, fear and uncertainty. But we were forcefully reminded of the things that truly mattered. I could not have fought this battle without the love and support of my dear wife and life partner, Debra, and my three precious children, Krista, Connor and Cameron. I love you more than I can ever express.

I got to know some of my friends better than I ever had. I was touched and inspired by their depth of caring, and by how deeply they were affected by my diagnosis and my journey. Most of all, it was truly wonderful to see, hear and read their true joy felt and expressed when the test results showed that the battle had been won.

The support on Caring Bridge was so very special and so very important to me. Wow. Did you know that I was reluctant to jump into this sharing through journaling? Part of me did not want to bring focus on my disease. I did not want to be defined by the cancer. But I realized that this was not a battle I could fight alone. I came to know that it was necessary and appropriate to share this journey, because it was not just mine alone. It was a journey for all who chose to take it with me. It was a battle that required an army of spiritual warriors.

I cannot describe how much I enjoyed your many notes in response to my journals. You often surprised me, always in a positive way. Some of you responded often, others occasionally, and many did not write responses in Caring Bridge. In the latter group, many sent separate text or email messages. Some even tried calling. And many sent physical cards. (Some call that last bit the “revenge of the analog”).

How can I fully describe the positive energy, confidence and inspiration your individual support provided to me? How can I even attempt to explain the incredible power of your collective support? Alas, words will never do it justice. But perhaps knowing that today I feel physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually stronger than ever will begin to give you a sense of the impact you have had and continue to have in my life.

And so, I hope you see why 2017 was and always will be a special year for me. It would be easy to let the negative stuff define it, but today I choose to hold on to the many blessings I received during the year. I believe I am in a better position to be a help and blessing to others. In regard to people who are battling cancer, I have real empathy from my personal experience. I have learned a lot about myself and a lot about other people.

Because of everything that happened in 2017, I am looking forward to 2018 with a freshness and openness like I have not experienced before. My goal this year is to be a consistently positive source of inspiration and energy for my family, friends, colleagues, and – here’s the stretch goal – everyone with whom I have the opportunity to interact with. I appreciate your encouragement.

Happy New Year to you! I pray that you will have a year that creates many positive memories. Challenge and believe in yourself. Live life to the fullest. Be a blessing to others. And remember, you are someone’s role model, even though you may not know who is watching or when they are watching.

Thank you for being along with me on A Very Different Journey.