I wasn’t alive when Kennedy was shot. I was born four short years later. I was born during the post JFK era of protests, sex, drugs and rock n roll. I never knew from short hair and skinny ties.
Tonight, on the way home from a work meeting in Harrisburg, PA – since it was late and there were no calls left to be made – I listened to the history of the JFK assassination on Sirius XM radio. I listened to the man speak. I listened to people – both famous and not famous – recall where they were, what they felt and what his legacy is and will be.
I was shaken. I was slightly teary. Maybe it’s the Dexamethasone. It does make me emotional! But MAYBE – just MAYBE it is because of what he represented. JFK represented HOPE. JFK represented OPTIMISM. HOPE and OPTIMISM. They are exactly what this and every Cancer patient needs. And he offered them to everyone regardless of race, religion or class. Above all else he led – and he led with an OPTIMISM that we haven’t seen since.
The two speeches that affected me most were the “moon” speech and his inaugural speech.
The “moon” speech at Rice University is where he delivered the line
“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
I choose to fight Cancer – not because it is easy nor because it is hard. Because I have to. I have no other choice. But I choose to fight it while living my life – working, parenting, writing, coaching – because that serves to organize and measure the best of MY energy and skill. I could choose to cry (OK – sometimes I do) but that serves no one. It doesn’t serve my family. It doesn’t serve my coworkers nor does it serve my friends and community. But most of all it doesn’t serve myself. I accept the challenge of taking on this disease head on – and as JFK said – this is a challenge I intend to WIN!
His inaugural address of 1961 was along the same lines where he said
“I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it — and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.”
I have a responsibility – to all those listed above – family, coworkers, friends and community – to MYSELF – to fight. To ACCEPT the responsibility of what I have been given and NOT TO SHRINK FROM IT! And as I said before and I will say many times again –
Even with Cancer I wouldn’t trade places with anyone else in the world.
When Kennedy said “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country” he did it from a position of OPTIMISM. He did it from a position of HOPE. And he may have been the ONLY president since then that we really believed. HOPE and OPTIMISM provide BELIEF.
November 22, 1963 we lost our innocence. Maybe I’m naive to think I can beat Cancer. Maybe I am innocent. Maybe the odds are stacked against me. Maybe because of this fucking chromosome 17p deletion I won’t make it to the 5-7 years I am expected to live. But you know what? Maybe the odds are WRONG. Thats my HOPE. Check that – that’s my BELIEF. I am an OPTIMIST. I have no other CHOICE.