Trophic Cascades, A Human Ecosystem, TED, Love and Cancer

Before I talk about the trophic cascade, I need to provide a little locational context. I am sitting next to the woman I love. Let me repeat that, I’m sitting next to the woman I love.  Unfortunately, we are at Seton Central hospital after some outpatient day surgery. This great piece, “Marriage Is Not For You,” reminded me exactly what it means to say this word: LOVE. For 23 years, the best of times are the ones when I’m totally and completely focused on Maureen, the woman I love, or the kids we’ve had the privilege of bringing in to the world.

IMG_0003Ten years ago, we heard different words, words that started us on the journey that has me sitting next to her again… in a hospital room, waiting for her to recover from yet another procedure, this time, a biopsy. What were those words? They were “you have cancer.” My words right after she heard those were “I love you.” Take the time to read “marriage is not for you,” because it really captures the essence of what it means to be in love. I will admit to not always getting this right over the last 23 years, but boy, when I do, I am the absolute happiest man in the world. To know our story with cancer, I point you to this piece I wrote a few years back, “Survivorship is Not a Phase.” A couple of weeks ago, we learned that this stupid cancer had “snuck out” of the Herceptin box we’ve had it in for the past few years. It has found its way to a few new spots, and this biopsy will tell us what this round of cancer cells look like now, so we can beat cancer back again.

So, what in the world does any of this have to do with a trophic cascade? Continue Reading →

My Tribute to Kethan | From TEDxWeldQuay to TEDxTrastevere

Sitting aboard Thai Airways on my flight from Malasyia to Rome, I am looking both ahead and behind me. On Saturday, my TEDx world tour reached its official start as I took the stage of TEDxWeldQuay. The Artistry Within of this event capturing every aspect of my time in Penang itself.

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I was greeted by Mee Quin Ooi from their TEDx committee at the airport on Friday and was then whisked off to a wonderful lunch in the Georgetown area. Not only did I properly learn how to use chopsticks, but I discovered a plethora of amazing tastes. Malaysians love their food, and I now understand why. Either they love their food because it is so good or it is so good because they love their food. Either way, this lunch was a spectacular gift.

On Saturday, I awoke with great anticipation. Although I am deeply grateful for the chance to take the stage of each of the three TEDx events at which I will speak, this one in Penang was special. I was in Malaysia, where Kethan’s story started. Although he was born in Austin, his family is Malaysian. This is who he was, where he began and where his Appu and Appachi; his Appu and Amamma still live. Continue Reading →

My Tribute to Kethan | Walking on the Other Side of the Street

As I fly from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, Malaysia, I am in great anticipation of this historic city and the privilege of taking the stage of TEDxWeldQuay tomorrow at the Whiteaway Arcade. Above the clouds, it is easy to forget what is below. From the other side of a cloud, everything below it can look the same.IMG_0576

Just like I came down from the clouds on Tuesday and landed in Kuala Lumpur, I know that in a few short moments I will come down from above these clouds and land in Penang. Just like I was greeted by Kethan’s family in KL, I will be greeted by the extended TEDx family in Penang. I am excited to meet Mee Quin Ooi, who will greet me at the airport, as well as Yee Ling Neoh, the curator for this, the first TEDxWeldQuay. Continue Reading →

My Tribute to Kethan | Making a Difference

As I shared in my recent post about my TEDx world tour for Kethan, this journey is sparked by the deep impact that Kethan and my wife, Maureen’s, cancer have had on my life, my work and my soul.

It is my deep belief that the “Power of People. Connected.” will be vital to finally dethroning the “Emperor of all Maladies,” as Sidhartha Mukherjee calls it in his book of the same name. As I make my journey from Malaysia to Rome to Dublin, it is my hope that my TEDx talks will spark a desire in each of us to follow our souls and our hearts to be inspired like I have been by Kethan. That inspiration can and will take many different forms. We can each be a pebble that creates our own ripple effect in the pond of humanity.

For me, there are a few causes or ponds into which I am throwing my pebble in the fight with cancer. Continue Reading →

someday is today: Kethan’s Story

A little over 5 years ago, my wife, Maureen’s, breast cancer recurred. She is doing well, but not long after our family’s journey with cancer took this new turn, I met Kethan. He, like my daughter, was starting 1st grade at St. Andrew’s. I had the privilege of meeting Kethan, his mom and his dad early on in the school year. Kethan has been my honored hero (and little brother) ever since.

Kethan’s battle with leukemia changed my life, brought me to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; and as this video makes clear, this commitment to LLS has now come full circle. From a term as board chair of the local chapter to my role on the national board of representatives to 4 rides around Lake Tahoe with Team in Training and a couple of Mission Days in Washington, DC in 2012 and 2013, my work with LLS has been unbelievably rewarding.

LLS is a great organization, and Kethan’s story makes clear that they will “move heaven and earth to help patients” in the words of LLS’s CEO, John Walter. Unfortunately, the original Kethan’s Story, shot in May, was one of hope. We expected him back in 6th grade. On July 11, his return to 6th grade was stopped in its tracks. This “human rainbow of one” left this world for the next. However, like all rainbows, Kethan never lost hope. I will never forget this special young man. We must now continue his fight. Thank you LLS for this fitting tribute to Kethan and his family.