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Day 365: January 5, 2017 (LOBTP: D-01)
Journal entry by Michael March - January 5, 2017

One year ago today I was diagnosed with Stage 4 HPV Cancer in my lungs. I was given 6 - 12 months to live and my Johns Hopkins Doctors told me I should go home, and spend as much time with my family and other loved ones as I could. They told me that a few times that day, and it was a much shorter discussion than I had ever thought it would be.

It wasn't much longer than 5 minutes. They told me what was found with the CT Scan, and me asking "How long do I have?" and without missing a beat we heard "Six months to a year?"

Then we left and drove home. We talked very little on the way, I got emotional a few times if I recall, but it was less dramatic as I thought it would be. To be honest, I had spent years laying awake at night trying to come to terms with being told I had 6-12 months to live. I never could actually finish the thoughts during those sleepless nights, and here I was, face to face with that prognosis, and it was not as traumatic as I thought it would be.

Today was a chemo day for me, and while we waited in the lobby of the chemo lab at the Winchester Cancer Center, I reminded Tammy that a year ago, we were driving towards Baltimore and into dark days to come. We were both glad we were not making that drive, and then we talked about how quickly a year has passed and just how much has happened.

It truly has been a quick 365 days, and here I still am. Over the past year, I have been told by the doctors that they should have never told me I had 6 to 12 months to live, since they really did not know for certain. Although, I have thought a span of 12-18 months was more or less what I actually had, I really did not think I was going to live a full year.

But here I am.

So what have I learned, if anything, over the past year?

I have been reassured life is fleeting, time flies, and we all live our lives without taking any of that into consideration. Even I know I have wasted more than one day in the previous 365. But in the long run, do any of us truly waste a day of our lives as long as we are doing whatever it is we wish to be doing?

I spent the furious first month believing that every new day that dawned, my last day, was also, upon me. I met with the funeral home our family has used for generations, and took care of my funeral and memorial services, so no one in my family would have to deal with what my wishes were. I paid for the whole thing to lessen that burden as well and honestly, I thought I would already be laid to rest by now.

I started to plan out everything, to include putting together a slide show of my life, and picking out music, and all that sorta stuff. Hell, I even managed to get someone to promise me they would set up a strippers pole at my service, along with collecting a cover charge of $5 to go to Toys for Tots, and other things like that.

I was in a race against the Grim Reaper.

So here I sit, a year later with everything, more or less, taken care of, and I am still not dead yet. I tend to think that is okay, and I will take it as a win, as well as a lesson learned.

I have pulled closer to my family, my friends, my God and my own desire to keep helping kids that need their very own champion. I will leave this world having been greatly rewarded with the life I have been given. I have led a life filled with lucky breaks, incredible good fortune, and no matter how hard I railed against the machine, I was blessed to have experienced so many wonderful things simply by holding up my hand and saying "Yes." For instance.....

Boss - "Say Mike, do you want to go to East Berlin for 2 weeks?"
Me - "Yes!"
Boss - "Great, here is your itinerary."

And that is how I got behind the Iron Curtain, and got to see the unpainted, graffiti free side of the Berlin Wall.

Boss - "Hey Mike, do you want to go to Mogadishu, Somalia?"
Me - "Oh hell no!"
Boss - "Great, here is your itinerary."
Me - "Great, Huh? Wait!"

And that is how I was on the last civilian flight out of the capital of Somalia, about 32 hours before our Embassy was overrun by rebels.

See what happens when you volunteer once? But even though I almost died in Somalia, it was still a great trip to be on. Everything, good or bad, is still an experience worth having and worth feeling lucky enough to have had. We live in a great country with unlimited opportunities for those willing to hold up their hand at least once and say "Yes".

Spend your life saying "Yes" instead of "No" and I think life and the power that is, will find a way to reward you. Whether or not you know at the time you are being rewarded. Just say "Yes" and thank God for another breath, another day, and another chance to help your fellow man.

I figure from here on out I beat the doctor's best guess at longevity and have entered the "living on borrowed time phase" of our program. Tomorrow, January 6, 2017, is Borrowed Day #1.

I'm going to do the best with what I have been given. Well, maybe tomorrow, right now, I am just a bit worn out from all this thinking tonight.

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