“I’m 35 and I may suddenly have lost the rest of my life,” writes Scott Riddle, in his blog, where he describes himself as ‘long time Google employee, who is taking a leave of absence to fight stage 4 colon cancer'.
It’s been a while since I put a piece of writing in the public domain, but suddenly I have a lot to get off my chest, well my colon actually, says this father of three.
A year ago his family was on a plane home to Sydney looking to relocate and settle down, having spent four great years working in California.
In July he went for a routine GP visit, having noticed a bit of unusual bleeding and a change in bowel habit. Many tests later he was confronted with a stage 4 colorectal cancer diagnosis. The cancer had spread from where it started to another body organ.
Most published survival curves suggested that only 10% of people are still alive 5 years post diagnosis. He realised that over the next 6 months he would be doing radio therapy and chemotherapy and at some point have two surgeries, one to remove a section of his colon and the other to remove two chunks from his liver.
Suddenly his career came to a screeching halt. His outlook on life was already so fundamentally altered. Life now was a weird kind of duality.
As a husband and dad of three kids under five that scenario had many practical implications that he had to prepare for , among them financial readiness, a mechanism to ensure his children remembered him, legal authority for his wife over our assets.
"One of the things I’m struggling most with is this concept of legacy," he writes. "I’m a planner. Before this diagnosis I’d been thinking of my 1st 35 years — aside from being a ton of fun and travel — as preparation. I felt like I was building a platform (savings, networks, skills, experience) that I could then use in my second act to make a real contribution, to “make my mark”, to build a real legacy for my kids. Perhaps that was a mistake on my part, because I may have no time to do that now.
"I feel like I have so many messages to deliver to the blissful masses from my now precarious vantage point, from the importance of early precautionary doctor visits to the merits of life insurance.
"But putting pragmatism aside, there is one thing I’d urge everyone to do. Stop just assuming you have a full lifetime to do whatever it is you dream of doing. I know it sounds ridiculously cliched, and of course you never think it will happen to you, but let me assure you that life really can be taken from you at any time, so live it with that reality in mind.
"Oh, and please stop complaining about the small stuff!"