Tag Archives: personal growth

Stolen Samples – Cancer Diagnosis

It seemed like an eternity had passed. The doctor had left with stolen samples of my neck tissue. Laura, my wife, rocked on her heels, waiting and watching for the door to crack open and spill the truth about my diagnosis. Her hand searched out mine and found it grasping firmly. I looked into her eyes and lied to her for the first time in my life, I said, “It’s going to be fine.”

The doctor returned wearing a professional and yet somehow cold smile. Her lips parted and out rolled the sum of her expertise.

“Mr. Sedberry upon my initial examination you have cancer. I cannot tell you what specific kind you have until the test results come back on Monday,”

My sanity began to waver but I caught sight of Laura. The look on her face was terrifying. I could see in her eyes that her world was crashing down around her, all of her hopes and dreams were shattered upon the floor. Her eyes were swelling to the brim with tears and she broke into a sobbing, blubbering mess.

I reached out and pulled her deep into an embrace. As her tears soaked my shirt,  I realized that I must stay strong for her and I instantly buried all emotion. I tell her “We will get through this.” I don’t know that I believe it but my words help Laura regain her strength. As Laura grows stronger I felt myself tightening up and sealing in the edges.

Laura kissed me, looked deep into my eyes and said, “Don, I love you, we will get through this, I promise.”

I make the effort to look unconcerned and say with finality, “I know, I love you so much..” I had never felt such fear in my life. I thought that I was going die almost immediately, like I had run out of time, I couldn’t catch my breath and I felt like I was falling fast to the ground. There’s nothing more dizzying than a cancer diagnosis. Worst of all I felt I had to hide those feelings from Laura, that was a mistake I would never redeem myself from.

Donning New Perspectives

I’ve read this story before, long before I wrote these words. You see it often when people have slammed into a wall and been greeted with their own mortality. In my case, the wall was cancer, a word I never expected to hear that day. Yet, I think it was something I had been preparing my whole life to cope with.

I have jokingly told my friends that I made a deal with God to live forever for as long as I could remember. It was my way of deflecting my mortality and believing that I was ready for anything. I wasn’t, of course. At some point, before the word cancer, I began donning a new set of perspectives.

If you’re like most people you have a need to control every aspect of your life. You guard yourself from being hurt, from change, from anything that doesn’t fit your ideal circumstance. You may not admit it, or even see it, but there it is guiding your every movement through life. Most of the time, you don’t even notice this particular perspective. You’re so used to it that it seems perfectly natural to hide in the safety of it.

I realized that I didn’t have control and more importantly didn’t want control. Life is beautiful in the way that it moves like a river, either carrying us along or moving around us if we get in the way. You can drown in that river or you can go with the flow. We’re told that going with the flow is a form of weakness. It is actually the most sincere form of strength to allow life to grant you opportunities to seize.

When you allow life to carry you along, you begin to see that you have a purpose that life intends for you to accomplish, to change, grow and meet new challenges with a fresh perspective each time. My wife shared with me a beautiful narrative about change that demonstrated personal transformation through the eyes of caterpillar.

Change. Caterpillars go into themselves and melt, reprograming each and every particle into a part of the butterfly that it will eventually become. That melting stage is crucial, that’s the stage when you question all that you are and use it to build the person on the other side of the perspective shift. That’s what I’ve been going through lately.

Laura, my wife, bought me a book titled “Believe” while I was in the hospital. The following quote really touched me.

“We won’t always know whose lives we touched and made better for our having cared, because actions sometimes have unforeseen ramifications. What’s important is that you do care and you act.” ~ Charlotte Lunsford

Cancer saved me from a life that I would hate, in a career that I would despise and allowed me one final opportunity to let go of the puppet strings of my life. While sitting in the hospital listening to the stories of all the nurses, doctors, and family members visiting their relatives I changed a little more each day. Is it crazy to be grateful for cancer? Maybe. I’m applying to pursue a doctorate so that I can follow through with becoming a professor, so that I can make a difference.

Make a difference. Today.

Dear 16 Year Old Me…

Dear 16 Year Old Me…

There is so much that I want to tell you right now. I can’t and won’t spoil all the surprises but I think you’d benefit from knowing a few things. First and most importantly, you are currently dwelling on certain things that will inevitably fade into obscurity:

  1. In less than two years, you will have nearly died three times. These near-death experiences will teach you the value of life and permanently curb the childish lack of responsibility you feel now. No, I won’t tell you how to avoid them. They are some of the best things that ever happened to you even though they won’t feel like it at the time.
  2. The girl you’re with now… she’s going to wreck your perception of life in a way you can’t even begin to imagine. Your friends will all tell you how horrible she was, at the posthumous memorial of your relationship. Sorry Don, she really is that fucking crazy, but you already knew that and at 16 it’s already too late to avoid it.

    We all dated someone like her. Don’t lie.
  3. Your heart will be broken more than once. You will break a few hearts. Your best friend will betray you. Don’t worry, it inevitably bites him in the ass and you’re still friends today. He will always need you even if he doesn’t think so for about 5 years.
  4. Your mom will suggest a hairstyle involving a curling iron. She is crazy, avoid this at all costs.

    bad hair day
    Don’t do it!
  5. You really don’t need that extra slice of pizza in the cafeteria line. Stop eating so much! Did anyone ever figure out what they put in school pizza? It can’t have been sanitary.

    Yes, yes you are.
  6. Your family will separate into factions and acclimate for war. You will remain neutral. Stay that way because it is not your fault.
  7. You will never have the relationship you want with your father. He is incapable because his father was incapable. He will pass away without ever having known you and frankly, it’s his loss not yours.

Secondly, without spoilers, these nuggets of knowledge might help you along the way.

  1. You are going to have this amazing idea of becoming a writer. You will fail to follow through with it until you are 30 years old. Don’t give up your passions so easily. You are full of great ideas; you may not have faith in yourself right now, but for me, for us, pursue them.
  2. Not everyone is worthy of your faith and trust. Give yourself honestly and fully only to those who deserve it.
  3. When a girl suggests you get a tattoo while you are drunk… just say no!
  4. You should enjoy the company of Donja, while you can. She will not last forever but you will remember her always. Especially on very dark and stormy nights.

    Quite possibly the best friend I’ve ever had.
  5. At some point in the future, you are going to have to acclimate yourself to alcohol for a second time. You are going to do it wrong and embarrass yourself. Be thankful for the great friends you have to save you.
  6. Don’t feel guilty about not knowing what you want to do with your life. You won’t figure this out for some time. You’re not the only one who doesn’t know. I still know people who don’t really know what they want to be. When you do figure it out, it’ll have made sense all along. Your passions will guide you.

Finally, a few things you might have sincere trouble believing but trust me. I am, after all, you.

  1. You are uniquely talented. Stop questioning it and just believe it.
  2. You are not as clever as you think you are right now, but you will be.
  3. You aren’t always right; however, you are most of the time.
  4. You will eventually meet a woman worthy of your affections, you will not be good enough for her but she’ll forgive and marry you anyway.
  5. Vegetables are not disgusting; you will learn to like many of them including zucchini.
  6. You will become the man most women wish they had, short of the harlequin obsessed ones.
  7. You will grow into a confident, successful and generally great guy.
  8. The anger will fade and you will be loved for your even-keeled sensibilities.
  9. You will get published, small steps first!
  10. You are never further from your dreams than the exertion of a little effort.

I realize that you are 16, you know everything, you’re cocky and arrogant, maybe even a douchebag by my standards today. You will humor me by reading it to the end only to respond with a sneer and a laugh at the audacity that I make such claims; but one day, not long off, you will sit before this keyboard and type an “I told you so.”

With love and understanding,

Future Don

What would you tell yourself if you could send a message back? Tell me about it!

Why I am perfect for your organization.

I thought this would be an excellent way to highlight why I would be an awesome addition to any organization. Want to know my qualifications? Find out below.

I get things done.

I love scratching off my to-do list items. There’s nothing more satisfying than strike-throughs followed by the squiggle of death to an action item. I prioritize, I conquer and I think of better ways to do repeated tasks next time.

I don’t miss deadlines.

There’s nothing worse than letting someone down. I prefer to surprise people with efficiency. No matter what, even if I have to stay awake all night. It will be done.

My professional and personal networks are amazing.

I have developed a network of individuals who are both great friends and themselves well-connected. I probably know someone you need to know. Throughout my work in the Salesforce Ecosystem, I have met many MVPs, SVPs, client directors, Salesforce employees, and so many Salesforce partners. My work with the Rotary Club of Indianapolis, IUPUI, IU Kokomo, and The Writers Center of Indiana have allowed me to develop many strong relationships in the creative space.  I love connecting the right people to the right ideas.  

I am never satisfied with mediocrity or monotony.

You have probably sat through a movie and wondered what happened to the last 2 hours? That’s mediocrity. If it is not quality, it’s not coming from my desk. I strongly dislike repeating the same tasks over and over without room for improvement. I prefer to refine, re-envision, recreate and develop ideas until I reach the optimal conclusions. I can be prone to boredom. The trick is making mundane work interesting or to always pursue a new idea. I prefer an ever-changing work environment and if that isn’t possible I will create an ever-evolving solution for the work that I do.

I adore change.

Nothing excites me more than learning something new. If you want to change anything in this world, count me in. I love having multiple avenues to explore simultaneously in the workplace. Side projects are exciting changes of pace, keep them coming to keep me engaged!

My ability to solve problems creatively works in your favor.

Challenges really energize me. Problem-solving is second nature. In all of the jobs I have held, I have become a fixer. I have resolved problems with people, programs, communications and more. The opportunity to provide troubleshooting and problem-solving is what I live for.

I love a good challenge.

You could call me a masochist. I specialize in creativity. I relish the opportunity to expand my abilities to try something new or to tackle a difficult problem. The harder the challenge the happier I am. Sure someone might shrink away from complicated problems, but not me. I absolutely love puzzles.

Puzzles make me tingle.

I strongly believe one should invest time in personal creative challenges. The more you challenge your mind the stronger the creative temperament will be. So yeah, I said tingle. Give me a puzzle!

I am an adult, as often as I need to be.

Adults are responsible, timely, respectable, trustworthy, and capable of prioritizing things in the workplace right?  I am all of those things. However, it’s not always good to be an adult and well, there are some very good reasons to act like a child too. When you were a child you were equipped with a couple of beautiful things that you may have forgotten about: imagination and curiosity. Logic and reason can sometimes get in the way of forging ahead; imagination is where you create new ideas that you later use logic and reason to develop. Without the curiosity and imagination to question the ideas of today, how can you build tomorrow? So, I say act like a child once in a while.

My commitment to personal growth expands your organization’s capabilities.

I am way too curious to stop learning new things. I learn them quickly and adapt them to my existing knowledge base. One of my favorite things to do is listen to TED Talks and jot down all the ideas that I want to know more about. My interests include anything from social media, marketing, history, website design, human-computer interaction, informatics, writing, creativity and so on. I can’t get enough education, and that can only help your organization in the long run. My mind rarely stops working and it is very likely that even as I fall asleep I’m exploring yet another idea.

I am not a “YES!” employee.

If you’re the kind of person who is insecure about having someone challenging your opinions respectfully we might not get along so well. However, if you can handle someone who is willing to share ideas with you, share the same goals and interests as your organization and is willing to express his opinion then we will get along famously. That being said…

I am not afraid to admit that I am wrong.

We are all wrong occasionally. The trick is having the guts to admit it. I’ll admit it and then fix it.  You can’t ask for much more.