Every Breath Counts

Every Breath Counts

On a recent Friday night while I was in Lexington, Virginia, my mobile phone displayed an incoming call from a good friend. “Have you heard about Ed?” Mike asked, querying about one of our high school classmates. I hadn’t spoken with Ed in the 40 years since we graduated, but I had followed his career in technology. Mike went on to relay what he had learned. “On December 24, 2013, Ed was diagnosed with a Grade IV brain cancer. This was the resultant discovery from a stroke he had suffered, attributed to the growth of the cancer.”

Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) is also known as Grade IV Astrocytoma, the most common and aggressive malignant primary brain tumor in humans. It is a rare disease. And Ed is its recipient. Median survival with treatment is 15 months, without it is 4 ½ months.

I reflected a lot over that weekend about Ed. I recalled he had two children and a wonderful wife, Marie. What I didn’t know is how Ed would be managing this terrible and devastating development. What I fondly recalled of Ed from our days together was his calm demeanor. He wore the nickname, Easy Ed, like a well fitting glove. I wondered if this intersection in his life’s journey would be too much, or would he find the strength and resolve to stare this adversity square on and dare it to intrude.

I further learned that Marie had left her job to take care of Ed. They had eroded their savings and retirement funds and were in the untenable position of trying to survive financially while trying desperately to abate the hunger of Ed’s cancer. They established a Medical Expenses Help Fund to raise awareness and to solicit contributions that would enable them to concentrate on Ed’s most important fight (https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/7c77 ) .

I decided to pay an unexpected visit to Ed that Monday afternoon. I would make my own personal contribution and asked my firm to match my donation. As I approached the front door, time seemed to slow down. Nothing else mattered. Ed came to the door; we shared a deep and caring reconnection and sat on his front porch for the next 90 minutes.

What I came to discover was the man Ed had grown to be was much like the kind and easy-going teen from those earlier years. He was still soft-spoken and deliberate in the words he chose. He was even more reflective, perhaps from a year evaluating what his new life meant to him. Each day, each new morning, each breath takes on more meaning and brings greater joy to him and his family. I found that by the end of our long conversation, Ed had provided me with more perspective, a greater appreciation for life, for the 86,400 seconds that make up each day. Core’s business philosophy is to drive positive value in the lives of others. This meeting affirms that intent in a big way. I am reminded to be more attentive to those around me: my family, friends, staff and clients.

We agreed to see each other on a more frequent basis. As he no longer drives, I look forward to getting him out and continuing our journey together. I know he will continue to teach and I will surely learn. We’ll share business experiences, how we each have dealt with adversity and routine struggles. We’ll discuss what priorities really matter and how we juggle and shift when faced with difficult decisions. I do appreciate the fact that every breath counts. Bless you, Ed. Thank you for sharing an important part of your journey with me.

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