False Alarm….It’s All Good!

Based on the comments, emails, and private messages I received all day it would appear that my poor choice of words led more than a few folks to worry unnecessarily about the place I was in this morning after reading my Facebook update about a new post to this blog. 

When facing adversity you always have a choice, succumb to it or rise above it…..I’m trying to rise above it and I could use your help today!

The better choice of words would have been…..this is my way of rising above it…..and then went on to describe how I felt my fundraising project for Charity Water was an example of that.

If you didn’t get the chance to read the post, please take a minute to do so and consider partnering with me to help build a well which will bring clean drinking water to a place where this is none.

While my choice of words might have led to some to possibly doubt my mental health;  for me there is NO DOUBTING how much support and prayers I have coming my way on a daily basis, something which humbles me to the point of not really having the words other than to say: 

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, one and all!

Which brings me to something I want and need to ask YOU…..

How can I be praying for you?

One thing I’m learning in all this is, for me to be able to leverage my faith in the midst of cancer, my focus has to be redirected from within and shifted UP and OUT.

By UP, I mean my focus has to be on God and the lessons He wants me to learn.

By OUT, my focus has to include the community around me, especially the relationships both old and new from which I draw so much strength.

So would you please allow me the opportunity to leverage my faith by letting me know how or what I can be praying for you?

  • One way would be to leave a comment at the bottom of this post which would allow the entire Leveraging Life community the opportunity to pray for you….something I think would be incredible especially when those who do prayed acknowledge it with a comment like so many of you did for me today on Facebook.
  • If you would like to keep the prayer request private click here or on the contact tab at the top and it will stay between you and me.

Thanks again traveling this journey with me!

trust God period!

~Tom

trusting God period

 

Will you help make a difference?

The most important Friday Favorite ever!

Most Fridays I feature a website or a blog that for me has become a favorite. 

Our Friday Favorite for September 24, carries far greater importance than anything I’ve posted on Leveraging Life. For me it speaks to the core of what I believe Leveraging Life calls us all to do…Leverage our life experiences and life lessons for a good greater than ourselves.

 

  [cancer]  me + You =Charity:Water

The formula listed above is something that began earlier this summer when I learned my cancer had spread. As I came to terms with another surgery, more radiation, and possibly chemotherapy I fought the frustration by trying to find the silver lining, the lesson that was to be learned,  a way to turn lemons into lemonade.

And this is where my story, your story, &  charity water all intersect….at a WELL….eclipsing briefly one disease by preventing  other diseases simply by providing clean drinking water where there is none.

Please take a few minutes to watch the videos in this post and learn more about the work charity water is doing around the world.

The Turning Lemons to Lemonade campaign comes to an end on September 30 and $5,000.00 is needed to build a well or 100% of what is collected will be combined with other groups to build a well, so it is a “win-win” situation either way!

Is it possible to raise $4,130.00 in a week? That’s not for me to say and only time will tell. But I do believe anything is possible when you have Trust & Faith in God and a group of people put His words into action.  So really this has as much to do with honoring Him by acts and deeds as it does in the final number.

Please take 3 steps right now to make that difference.

  • Boldly pray for the effort and pray for the outcome.
  • Use the share buttons to the right and share this effort with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, & via email by providing a link to this page.
  • Make a donation, remember $10.00 or $20.00 makes a significant impact in the overall picture and the $870.00 raised thus far will change the lives of 43 people.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post, for your efforts to share the formula & this story, and for partnering with me to leverage life for a greater good!!

~Tom

trusting God period

And the winner is……{name this} Contest

Puff the merkel cell Dragon

 

The winning entry comes from Dave in Fresno who is part of the merkel cell google group I am a member of and is also a mcc survivor himself. Dave said the machine resembled a dragon, an invisible fire breathing dragon, set out to kill any straggler cancer cells that surgery might have missed.

For any other cancer survivors out there dealing with radiation, feel free to adopt the name during your treatment, and just fill in the blank.

Puff the any cancer  Dragon

I have 18 more encounters with Puff over the next three weeks, so at least now I can greet him by name and challenge him to get the job done.
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In describing the story behind the lyrics for Puff The Magic Dragon, Peter Yarrow has frequently explained that “Puff” is about the hardships of growing older, he has also said of the song that it “never had any meaning other than the obvious one” and is about the “loss of innocence”.  Ifound this after selecting the winner but it does actually reinforce the selection because, as the lyrics suggest, cancer truly is a hardship of growing old and anyone who has experienced radiation treatment will attest there is a loss of ones innocence! 
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Thanks to everyone who entered and those who continue to share Leveraging Life with friends on Facebook and Twitter, those efforts help make this difficult season of radiation more tolerable!

~Tom

trusting God period

YouTube MyChannel

 

Most Fridays I feature a website or a blog that for me has become a favorite. It maybe a favorite resource, a source of inspiration, or just some distraction I frequent. Give the Friday Favorite a look, read, or listen, and please share your favorites in the comment section; who knows maybe it will be the next Friday Favorite. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                         Friday Favorite September 17, 2010

My Channel 

A favorite of mine, which I have been using for over a year is a feature on YouTube called My Channel. 

With a few clicks you can create a account/profile and can start utilizing the “My Channel” feature which has become a personal jukebox for me when working in front of a computer.   

Provide as much or as little info as you like, for me I used the same public info I have on Twitter and my blog Leveraging Life to create a uniform social media presence, and then set up some playlists like you would on iTunes. If you click on my You Tube channel TomMartinATL  and you’ll see I have two playlists, Assorted and Worship.  Simply search for a favorite artist and or favorite song to see what is available. If you find something, give it a listen and if it is something worth saving click save button and your playlist drop with all your playlists appears, click where you want save it and your done. 

The thing I love about this is it’s FREE, no cost to download plus you get the chance to see if it is really something you want to add to your iTunes library. I also love the fact I can find so many different versions of the stuff I like especially live recordings with very good audio quality. Speaking of FREE take for example the Zac Brown Band’s song Free, a great song that I love, and a quick search revealed a live version from a concert at the Fox Theater here in Atlanta. 

 

I clicked save….put it in my assorted playlist and it’s a part of the rotation whenever I want to play that playlist. From there I can arrange the order of the rotation, delete what I’m bored with, and new material when I find it. 

Drawbacks I’ve found:

    • Some videos have poor audio quality or poor video quality or both
    • Some have no videos just albums covers  
    • Some may have 20 second commercial prior to video, but I’ve found that to be very few
    • No way to keep your channel private but you can limit what content you want to display by taking these steps: 

-Sign in and go to your channel page

-Click the “Edit” link in the upper right.

-Select the content you’d like to display

-Click the “Save Changes” button

 It’s all out there, videos, music, from classics to the latest & greatest, give YouTube my channel a test drive and see what you think!  

~Tom

Life Lessons part two….Game On

Scouting

Game On for me was much like preparing for big football game. Most football teams have scouts who learn everything there is to know about the opponent with the hope of finding weaknesses that can be exploited. Research was my way of scouting merkel cell cancer (mcc), unfortunately there is little published about this relatively new type of cancer, and there is even less focus by the cancer community from an awareness and funding perspective due to the low number diagnosed each year. Despite the limited information, my scouting/research confirmed enough of what had already been discussed with the medical team I was assembling to move forward with my game plan of surgery, skin graft, sentinel node dissection, and 6 weeks of radiation.

 Team Meeting

Another component of my Game On involved those difficult conversations with family and friends who needed to be told. I approached those talks under the false belief, that if my attitude was positive and upbeat it might somehow lessen their concern and worry. In my eyes I did pretty well; as I had my facts together what mcc was and what the medical team planned to do about it, that was until I spoke with my brother Mike. As I was telling him the news in my best upbeat spiel, an image of my 3 nieces flashed in my mind followed by another image where I was missing their proms, graduations, and weddings. I’m not sure if he caught me starting to choke up, but I’d have to admit that was the shortest of all my Game On conversations.  

Intangibles

Work was a different type of Game On, similar to a player trying to convince his coach that despite being at 80% he could still contribute to the win. For me it was important to reassure the owners of my company that I regarded this only as a bump in the road with minimal disruption at the dealership. But I knew it would open the door, and for the first time in my career, where my ability to do what they hired me to do would be evaluated not only on talent but also on availability, something I  had little say or control over.

Connections, Community, Causes

Why I Love the Internet

Life is easier because of it….and I just can’t comprehend my world without the Internet.

Think about the last time the power went out, how out of touch did you feel? Did you go through online-withdrawal when you couldn’t check email, become frustrated you couldn’t Tweet the power was out and the power company #failed, or go into panic mode because you had FB-Farmville crops to tend to?

I know those are extreme examples of one’s online experience, but the ESPN’er criticizing the Facebook’er because of  meaningless status updates, thinks nothing about the time they spend on check the status updates of injuries to fantasy league players. Each carries equal significance to both parties respectively as there is community within those online experiences, but is there an opportunity for community beyond that interaction or as some would say community in action?

“As of 2009, an estimated quarter of Earth’s population uses the services of the Internet”, according to Wikipedia.  In 1960’s, when the Internet was conceived, the intent was to facilitate the exchange of information between networks of computers. Today information is still exchanged but what dominates the Internet landscape is the connecting of people. Take a look at the top 10 US websites , half are exclusively community building websites; and it could be argued that actually 9 out of 10 utilizee enough group and chat dynamics within their websites that foster community as well.

Go West Young Man-Part Two

                                       

When I travel some of the fun is the research that goes into planning the trip. Deciding what to do, what to see, and where to go is what builds the excitement and what usually makes the time leading up to your departure move so slow.

Obviously my trip to Seattle was for a different purpose, and the ten days leading up to it blew by as I tried to minimize the impact my unscheduled absence would have on the Subaru dealership I work for. So I found myself boarding the plane with only the address of my hotel, the times of my three doctor’s appointments, and almost no knowledge of or no game plan for my trip to Seattle. 

The randomness actually started in the seating assignments. Booking the trip within two weeks of the flight left me in a middle seat flying from Atlanta. The thought of over 5 hours sandwiched between two people compelled me to play the medical sympathy card: “I’m traveling with a surgical drain card” and I did it well enough to secure an aisle seat from the gate agent. Unfortunately that excitement waned when I saw my smooth move actually placed me in a row with mother and a hyperactive two year old who was wide awake and looking determined not to stay in his child seat a single moment more than FAA regulations required. I noticed her husband was travelling with her but seated a few rows back, so I offered to switch seats so the family could all sit together. She jumped at the chance, but when I moved back to his row the look he had told me he didn’t appreciate the gesture one bit. Once the transition was complete I settled into his window seat with the middle seat unoccupied determined to finish Pete Wilson’s Plan B book before landing in Seattle. As we flew west, I gazed out the window from time to time and glanced at Delta’s tracking map to see where we were, spending most of that time recognizing and acknowledging not where we were, but where I have not been, and how little of this country I’ve seen. Too little time, too much work, too stuck in routines visiting the same places because it’s easy…..too comfortable, and too safe. 

So my Seattle trip represented more than just a quest for medical clarity, it was a chance to break from routine, an opportunity to explore the city, and to make an assessment on where I was tracking in personal growth this year.

Early Update Posted on Facebook

***This post was prior to setting up the Leveraging Life website***

Let me start out with a quick update my sister Molly prepared a few days ago that I never had a chance to share with those of you not on her mailing list and then I’ll fast forward to what went on this weekend and will be going on tomorrow.

 Hi everyone, 

Tom got back the results today – out of the 25 or so lymph nodes that were taken out two showed Merkel Cell cancer – one was 6 centimeters and the other was over 5….which are considered quite large. So what do we do next? We talk to different medical oncologists and find one that we feel can handle this type of cancer. Because this cancer is so rare and doesn’t look like other cancers he’s gotten very different advice from three different oncologists on what he should do next. Some say to do chemo and radiation and another says to only do radiation. So first thing first – Tom has to heal for the next 5 weeks from the surgery before he can start treatment and he’s currently battling an infection so that needs to be taken care of. So we are praying for clarity and wisdom on choosing the right course of action to fight this cancer and praying for a doctor that knows how to treat this cancer. He is hoping to also get a consultation with an oncologist at Washington University in Seattle as they are the only ones in the country currently doing studies on this type of cancer and will maybe put him in one of their research studies. So a lot of people are on his list to consult while doing as much research as can be done these next few weeks.Overall Tom is doing amazing; he still has a great attitude and is ready to fight this head on. His spirit and faith have been very inspiring and have been a true lesson to me on how I look at road blocks or difficulties in my own life. He recently moved into a house so he’s really excited about that and he’s turning this whole experience into something positive to benefit others.

Thanks everyone for your continued prayers and sweet messages checking in on all of us!! We really appreciate all the love :)

xo, Molly