🔥🔥Impassioned Marketer
🗣️Speaker 📋Coach ✍️Writer
🚑Aortic Aneurysm Survivor
🙏Devoted Dad

When Sully was diagnosed with B-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia two and a half years ago a lot changed. Fortunately COVID happened at roughly the same time and while he was in the hospital recovering his friends were isolated at home so he didn't feel like he was missing anything. School resumed for his friends, and eventually for him. He continued chemotherapy and treatment while going to school, only staying home on the sickest days. He had to give up sports because of the post-treatment effects of the spinal taps and drugs, and the medical port in his collarbone. It seemed like a small insignificance in the grand scheme of things, but I could tell it left an emptiness in him.

He was as passionate about football as my older son and I could see the effect that having to sit out was having on him. For a while I left him home from his older brother PJ's football trips because I was concerned he would get more depressed. I tried finding ways to lift his spirits. We reorganized his game room and I bought him a new PC and we upgraded his bike. I've spent an exorbitant amount of time with him and on things to keep his spirits up, we all have. We made a protective pad for his medical port and tried soccer but ultimately it didn't seem to fill the void of football. 

After the first year his weekly treatments became our new norm. While everyone else has been living their regular work and family life, we too have been doing the same, only with this cloud over our heads since May 20th, 2020. 

I do a great job of turning shit into sunshine, and as a marketer my social media is an intentional snapshot of Silver Linings. It's a lot of work to maintain that appeal for business reasons but in reality I'm often in the dark bumping into things trying to figure shit out as a single dad. 

This whole ordeal has been a litmus test on my relationships. I've gotten rid of a lot of dead wood and grown closer with the kind people who actually get it. I have learned not to waste my energy on negativity; to not give a fuck what anyone thinks of me or how or why I do things. Everyone has a story, but no one could comprehend this journey except the few in our circle. My approach to each day is with "tragic optimism" as coined by the existential-humanistic psychologist Viktor Frankl.

After time had passed I decided to try bringing Sully on PJ's football trips again. He seemed to enjoy them and once I realized that he never left my side. He traveled with us to all the camps and had the opportunity to see some of the best football colleges in the country. He particularly enjoyed talking with Coach Schiano at Rutgers and Coach Robinson at Texas A&M. They were very kind and made the in-obligatory point of making him feel special and having lengthy conversations with him. 

Sully didn't miss a single game of his brother's freshman season, often running onto the field and into the locker room where he was welcomed by Coach Minucci and PJ's teammates. He was a fixture right next to me at every game from the summer scrimmage to the state championship in snowy Buffalo. It turns out that something I thought would make him sad turned into a great distraction. 

A couple weeks ago he came and informed me "I'm playing football next year."

I had to explain to him that when he finishes treatment in mid-September it's not like they just pop out the medical port and you're good to go. I told him he would need time to heal, would have to get up to speed physically, and ultimately have bone density and other tests to get cleared. I reminded him the same way I do my older son, that the world doesn't revolve around football. I had to be candid with him and explain that it was a great goal but he had to prepare himself to accept whatever the terms were after treatment.

With that, he has come home from school every single day to run and join us on weights without my impetus. The last thing I am concerned with is him playing football, but "the process" is somewhat of a distraction in the last and final part of this treatment. He is also fortunate to have a good friend group that he rides bikes around town with, goes fishing, and is connected with on the X-box and PC.




For the time being he's occupied with something new and I've assured him that whatever the outcome is; if he is able to play he will have the opportunity. But if he is not able to play I reminded him that it's not the end of the world. In spite of us being a crazy football family, and believe me we are; football is not our only derivative of happiness or the bond that binds us. It's also not my ultimate expectation or what we define our manhood on.

I write because it's an outlet for me. It's a breather from all the craziness in my life and a way to stay connected with friends and relatives wanting updates.

Coincidentally I receive quite a few emails from these posts from the kindest cancer survivors, and from parents and families who are going through the same thing or are on the other side having finished treatment. 

Last week I met @DITTYBOS a tough young cancer survivor who is also a football player and has kicked cancer's ass. He is playing football in college and has an amazing attitude about life. Follow him if you get a chance, he's an inspiration. 



 

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