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Lessons From A Cancer Diagnosis

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

A cancer diagnosis is life changing. Today Jay is blessed to be cancer free, but the journey of navigating surgery, scans, biopsy and recovery provided a new lens on life and business. In this episode he shares 5 lessons from his experience and a couple of tips on how he is approaching life today.

5 lessons Jay shares:

1. The 3 most important things are Health, Wealth and Relationships.

2. Remove toxic people and platforms from your life. Now.

3. Determine if you have a business or a job. It is important.

4. Pick the right spouse. Happiness in life is directly proportional to your choice in spouse. Period.

5. The ghosts of regret are big nasty monsters. Slay them before you don't have time.

3 Life Tips

1. Have zero tolerance for nonsense and fake people.

2. Goals and specifically big goals are extremely important.

3. Listen to your body. It could be telling you are under duress.

Dr. Fiyin Sokoya

Dr Sokoya did an amazing job with my surgery. He was very good both pre and post op. I would highly recommend him if you are faced with the same type of challenges. - Jay

Key Terms:

Parotidectomy is the partial or complete removal of the parotid gland, and it may be indicated for a variety of reasons that can include inflammatory conditions, certain infectious processes, congenital malformations, and benign or malignant neoplasms.

Lymphoma is a general term for cancers that start in the lymph system (the tissues and organs that produce, store, and carry white blood cells that fight infections). The two main kinds of lymphoma are— Hodgkin lymphoma, which spreads in an orderly manner from one group of lymph nodes to another.


I am recording this short podcast to share some personal news with you, the Resilient Advisor audience. So you've probably noticed I have not put out a lot of podcasts in the last six months. I've actually just completed a short battle with cancer. They found a tumor about the size of a golf ball on the side of my face.

It had been growing over the previous year and during a four hour procedure to remove that tumor from my face, they also took out some lymph nodes behind it, and they found cancer in those lymph node cells. Now I wanna be really clear. I am completely fine today as I record this. My scans are clean and I do not want you to feel sorry for me.

I'm only sharing this story with you because I learned some great lessons going through this experience as a 49 year old man that I wanna share with you because you can't really appreciate some of the lessons unless you've been through an experience like this. So here are the five lessons from my cancer diagnosis that I wanted to share with you.

The first, the happiness framework that I teach my clients and I've talked about on this show in the past. It works, if you're not familiar with this, framework is very simple. There are three things that if you focus on really help drive happiness in life. Your. Your wealth and your relationships. For me, health means both physical and mental.

And of course going through a traumatic experience like that did impact my health, but I'd always stayed pretty healthy and attuned to those things. Wealth, whatever that means to you, whether it's money or time, uh, to do things that you want. It becomes even more important when you go through a traumatic experience like that.

I'll also tell you money does matter when you go through an experience like that. And then lastly, in the happiness framework, relationships are so important. We don't spend enough time with the people that we want to spend time with. Make sure that you're doing that. Number two, toxic people. I can tell you when I sat there pondering what life might bring.

Pondering the idea that the shot clock was up, the game was over for me. I did not think twice about those toxic people. Those people that you don't really want to spend any time with, but you keep in your life. I didn't think a moment about them. Remove them before you ever come across a situation like I just went through.

Trust me, you'll be better off for it. And that includes platforms, whether it's social media or uh, blog sites that are toxic. Get them out of your life. Number three, this was a hard lesson for me. If you are a business owner, you either have a business or you have a. Really easy to determine the difference.

You have a business. If you can continue operations without you sitting in the seat, you have a job if everything grinds to a halt because you're not gonna be there. I was very fortunate during my five, six month experience in that. I have great clients, I have a great team, uh, but I learned that a lot of what I do in our two businesses is predicated upon me executing, and I have to change some of that.

If this had been a long, drawn out battle with cancer, it would've been much harder. So think about your own business and whether you have a business or a job. Number four. Uh, my kids say they're gonna put this on my tombstone. I've told them that my number one law life lesson for them. Happiness in life is directly proportional to your choice and spouse.

I was very fortunate through this experience to have Chris who was a nurse, help me through and be there and be supportive through the whole thing. It's emotional, as you might imagine, that are ups and downs, but having the right person in your corner is great when things are going well and it's great when the rubber is meeting the road.

And lastly, the best way to describe the fifth Lesson comes from a story that Les Brown used to tell. And Les Brown used to say that the ultimate way to pass away is after living a long, full life. Being in your deathbed surrounded by the ones that you love is the ultimate way to. But behind those folks there are gonna be ghosts, and these ghosts are gonna be the ghosts of regret.

The books, you didn't write the plays, you didn't write the trips, you didn't take the businesses, you didn't start. I've told that story for 15 years. It does not have the same impact unless you're sitting there thinking the shot clock is over. What ghosts are there? And my number one takeaway from that is those ghosts, they don't look like Casper, the friendly ghost.

They look like Mike Tyson in his prime, standing across from you in the ring. You know you're gonna lose. The only thing that's left is the pain. So the question is what Mike Tysons are staring back at. Try to figure out what those Mike Tysons might be and go slay those ghosts now, slay them while you're healthy and make sure you don't have any regret.

So those are the five lessons after synthesizing everything I've been through here recently that I wanted to share. Three quick tips. Number one, I've noticed a small character change in myself that wasn't present before going through that experience, and that is now I have very little, if any, tolerance for nonsense or fake people.

I used to put up with it. I thought I was just being a nice guy. I wish I had this attitude for the past 49 years. It's very freeing. Don't waste your time with toxic fake people. Number two, I love goals. Goals are important. My clients get tired of hearing me talk about goals in OKR systems. I found that when I went through that traumatic period, the goals went out the window.

That really hurt me is I triage everything that I went through. Solid goals for where you want to be in one year, five years, and 10 years can really help you get through the challenging times. And then lastly, If you think your body is telling you something, go get it checked out for a full year before I went to the doctor to get that mass identified.

I was struggling. I found myself taking naps in the middle of the day, which is not something I normally would've done. In fact, those naps were so prevalent, it actually became a joke in our family. And it turned out the reason I was sneaking naps in almost every day was because my body was struggling.

It was fighting something that I really couldn't see. So if you think there's something wrong with your body, there very well could be and definitely go get it checked out. So if you've stuck around this long and you wanna hear about the diagnosis and the cancer, here's what I went through. So I was diagnosed with something called a Parotidectomy because my parotid gland had a tumor in it.

Your parotid gland is a mass about right here on your face for audio listeners that's right in front of your earlobe towards your nose. It helps produce saliva in your mouth. The outcomes from this is that if you goes untreated, it will continue to grow and then. Removing it requires a high amount of skill.

My doctor, Dr. Sequoia and the WellStar system absolutely nailed the surgery, so I knew going into it, there was a certain probability that my face was gonna look significantly. Different. It also made me realize that I'm a little bit more of a na narcissist than I thought, but Dr. Sequoia nailed the surgery.

The potential side effects are a droopy face that would look similar to a, a Bell's Palsy, and that's because removing that tumor required getting underneath nerves inside, uh, underneath the skin on the face. And that's why the procedure took four. The lymphoma was found in the glands, behind the parotid glands.

There is a lot of information out there about lymphoma. I highly recommend you only go to the sources that your doctor recommends because you can really go down some dark rabbit holes with lymphoma. Uh, it's a, it's a nasty, nasty cancer for sure. Uh, I'm very fortunate that I have clean scans today. Uh, but that's the nuts and bolts of what I went through in terms of.

The cancer diagnosis in the process all in, it took about six months to get through. If anybody listening has been diagnosed with this or somebody they love is being been diagnosed with it, please uh, feel free to reach out. DM me on social media or, or go to our website at Resilient Advisor and shoot me an email.

Thank you everybody for listening. I'm very appreciative to all the folks who were in my support network as we went through that process, and I'm looking forward to getting back to producing these podcasts on a regular basis.


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