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I want to share a story that has really touched and inspired me.  It goes beyond anything I ever thought I would experience (in a gym of all places) and taught me so much about myself.  Like many of you, I attend the gym roughly the same time each day and see lots of familiar faces.  I don’t interact a whole lot during this time, as I like to get it done, but a few people are routinely part of my morning and I really look forward to seeing them.  One man in particular, John, in his 70’s is just about the nicest, most down to earth person you’d ever want to cross paths with at 8:00 am.  He’s upbeat and chipper and never skips a day during the week.  He and his sweet wife workout and go to breakfast at the same place every single morning.  I can only hope to be as fit as John when I hit my 70’s!

One morning in late November, I discovered through some chatter that John had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.  I didn’t want to discuss it as I realized it was very personal, but somehow, I felt compelled to let him know I was thinking of him and wished for a speedy treatment and recovery.  To my surprise, the moment I approached him with concern, he took me by the arm and walked me around the corner.  As I held back tears for what I felt he must be going through, he very matter of factly told me the diagnosis and exact plan of attack that was to take place during the next 9 weeks beginning just after the new year.  I was truly caught off guard by his honesty and nature towards the entire situation as I gulped back tears so as not to make him feel worse.  I couldn’t help but wonder where a strength like his came from.  In that moment, John was just the same as any other day.  I tried to find the fear behind his eyes, but he was committed to chasing after it and getting past it.

Throughout these past 9 weeks, he has continued to show up at the gym each and every morning.  Always greeting those around him with a smile and never letting his circumstances get the best of him.  It has been amazing for me to witness this positivity during such a tough time.  Last week, I learned that this Monday would be his very last day of radiation.  I was elated!  As the weeks have unrolled, he has admittedly gotten more and more fatigued, yet continued to show up and just do a bit less each day.  In true fighting spirit, he has battled through the exhaustion to do what he loves, exercise.  This entire process has been nothing short of inspiring and I’ve told him he is my hero nearly every single day that I see him.  I’m really not sure I have it in me to be the way he’s been during this entire experience and it really puts things into perspective when you see someone maintain the strength that he has shown.  When you think you are having a bad day, just know, it could always be worse.  John has taught me this and he may never even know.

I wanted to do something for John upon competing his treatment, I just didn’t know what.  I decided on a card and had a few others join me in signing it.  We presented it to him this morning and he got a bit teary as did the rest of us.  To me, the simple act of sharing this moment made me feel lighter and as if I may have shown him just a glimmer of how he’s impacted me.  I’m proud to say I got to give him a great big hug this morning and am hopeful he has beaten it for good.  Powerful lesson learned about optimism and the power of the mind.  Who knew so much more than muscle could be gained on the weight room floor!

In good health,