Saturday, July 12, 2008
Tony Snow, An Inspiration
Former White House Press Secretary and television personality died from metastatic colon cancer at 2 AM today. He was different. In every way, he had something about him that was otherworldly. This became evident when his cancer returned.
When asked about his condition he focused on the positive and made sure the person asking the question felt comfortable and not afraid about his condition.
He lost his mother to the same disease when he was just 17 years old. Perhaps that is where he was able to find the inner calm that comes with knowing the full circle of this disease called cancer.
Cancer. We use many euphemisms for it. We “battle” it. We “valiantly fight it.” And for some reason, when we die because of it, everyone says the same thing: “He lost his battle against cancer.” Nobody loses their battle. Cancer never wins. We may die, but when we die we are released from cancer’s grasp and move on to an eternity of peace and wholeness and we are well once again. I prefer to think that cancer loses a competitor. By gracefully leaving the arena, cancer cannot touch our souls, so it loses.
I have been going through some research on Tony Snow and his philosophy about cancer and life and how much we need to live each day, every moment we have on this earth.
His words are far better than mine could ever hope to be.
Only someone who has been through cancer treatment can understand this one:
“The art of being sick is not the same as the art of getting well."
When you decide how you want to live your life, this philosophy surely helps:
“Our virtues also help us shove aside adversity and create something glorious and new from the ashes of hardship and tragedy.”
And this is one of my favorites. If only there was a way to help the newly diagnosed know that this is so very true:
“The secret of learning to be sick is this: Illness doesn't make you less of what you were. You are still you.”
Out of the ashes....
“In many cases, a bout with sickness stretches your soul, opens your eyes, and introduces you to a world of unimagined grandeur, possibility and joy.”
And, in closing, these beautiful sentiments spoken at a college graduation just last year:
"To love is to place others before you and to make their needs your priority. Do it. When you put somebody else at the center of the frame, your entire world changes, and for the better. You begin to find your own place in the world. When you're drawn into the lives of others, you enter their problems, their hopes, their dreams, their families. They whisk you down unimagined corridors, toward possibilities that had been hidden to you before. So resolve to do little things for others. You don't know where they're going to lead but then again, you don't have any idea where your life is going to lead.
And that if you engage them with heart and mind, with faith and energy, you are going to find yourself on a cresting wave. It'll carry you forward and it'll push you under water from time to time. And some day in the dim and distant future, when you're looking back at it, you're not going to think about your car or your career or your gold watch. You'll think about a chewed-up teddy bear you had as a baby or maybe your child's smile on a special Christmas morning. The only things that are sure to endure are the artifacts of love. So go out and build as many as you can.
And finally this: Wherever you are and whatever you do, never forget at this moment, and every moment forward, you have a precious blessing. You've got the breath of life. No matter how lousy things may seem, you've got the breath of life. And while God doesn't promise tomorrow, he does promise eternity."
God bless you, Tony Snow. You were a shining light of optimism and hope to anyone who has ever faced a serious, life threatening disease. Your smile and bravery gave courage that revealed the promise of hope.
Cancer did not win. Heaven did.