Embracing the Journey

My crazy/beautiful journey has had many twist and turns during this amazing ride. I have been told I had cancer. I have completed multiple marathons. I have been told I have Parkinson’s. I ran some more. I have been told I have Myasthenia Gravis and only had hours to live. I walked out of ICU. I have been told I have Gastroparesis and I only had weeks left to live. I got a feeding tube and I heard God tell me I would eat again. Yes, I have been on a wild ride and loving every minute of it.

I have always been a pretty positive person. That person who always finds a positive in the worst situation. Yes, I am one of those people. But when your told you have multiple incurable diseases you have two choices. You can either run from the storm or embrace it. I think you know which one I chose.

My life has definitely changed during this crazy/beautiful journey. I could share all the negatives of having multiple incurable diseases. I could probably write several blog posts or a book about all the negatives. But really, how boring and depressing would that be to read? That doesn’t mean I shy away from the negatives of my current health issues. No, I have made the choice to embrace the positives of this journey.

During this almost 16 year health journey, there have been a lot of moments to embrace. Remember, we have to make the choice to embrace the giants we will all face in life. Sometimes, I have to make that choice several times a day. Believe me, it is not always easy. But when I reflect on all the awesome moments God has given me the past 16 years, I wouldn’t trade a minute. Okay, maybe a minute here or there. Let me share some of the beautiful moments I have experienced over the years. I hope you enjoy the ride.

My first half-marathon after having open-heart surgery to remove my golf-sized tumor brings a smile to my face. I had no ideal what to expect. I had never run a marathon before. So of course I made a major mistake. I started off to quickly. I did not pace myself. That caught up with me around mile six. But then a funny thing happened. I started running next to a young lady. We had passed each other several times. Come to find out she was a trauma nurse and 8 months pregnant. That will be funnier in a few minutes. We started talking and for the first time during a race, I was able to share my story. The story that God had given me. Since she was a nurse, this young lady understood all the trauma my body had went through and how me even running was a miracle. The conversation also forced me to pace myself. I was actually going to finish my first half-marathon. Oh, the funny part. That nurse who was 8 months pregnant beat me by a half a second. Yes, I got beat by a pregnant woman. What an awesome memory.

My alma mater wants me to speak at homecoming chapel. Are you sure? I loved my days at Palm Beach Atlantic University. But I was never what you would call a great student. I loved to socialize and studying was a second thought. I was not a partier, but if someone wanted to hang out I was not saying no. So never in a million years, would I ever think I would be invited to speak at my alma mater. But, God is full of wonderful surprises and I had the honor to speak at chapel. What a beautiful memory and experience.

Todd, I want you to run a 1,000 miles in one year. Those are the words I heard God speak to me on New Year’s morning in 2008. Hello God, do you remember I have Parkinson’s? This was a moment I could have definitely said no way God. I cannot do it. Who would of blamed me? But, by this time I had learned the importance of being obedient when God spoke to me. So, on that first day of 2008, I went for a run. That would be the first of many long runs in 2008. As I put on the miles, more and more people started hearing about my crazy/beautiful journey. I was blessed with many opportunities to share my story. Laura and I even had the chance to be interviewed on a local tv station. Twice! I could have easily said no to the challenge God put on my heart, but I would have missed so many blessing.

I don’t know what journey you’re walking today. You may feel like you’re drowning. Like you have nothing left in the tank. But even during the darkest moments, I encourage you to embrace your journey. It will not be easy. Believe me I know. But if you can find it in yourself to find the positives, your life will never be the same. ~OC

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