Powerful Last Words from a Living Man

This week a man died from cancer.

I realize this is not particularly unique statement – this can be accurate for each day, week, month or year. But it is in these moments of loss we should work to share the lessons those passing demonstrated.

Stuart Scott, a name you may or may not be familiar with, passed away this week after a long, courageous battle with cancer at the age of 49.

Now for those who do not need to Google his name, please don’t let his professional accomplishments distract you from the heart of his lessons. For those who do not know him by name, well, you are probably more likely to appreciate how we would prefer you get to know him in the first place.

Stuart was a man who did not shape himself to fit the world around him. Instead, he successfully walked the tightrope of being genuine to himself in a world of filled with diverse opinions. No easy task, to say the least – particularly for someone in his chosen field.

But, again, this column is not about Stuart – as I believe he, too, would prefer. But rather these words are more about how one should conduct their lives in the unrevealed days, minutes, and seconds we possess.

Unfortunately, people discover their body is host to cancer every day of the week. And for most, their lives will never be the same again.

And as for Stuart (as I’ll refer to him in respect for distancing himself from this professional persona), I’m sure he was no different. A father of two daughters, his diagnosis seeming only enhanced his focus on channeling his energies into living a fully, rich life.

During his life, he successfully put cancer behind him only for it to revisit shortly afterwards. And like many others who experience this unwelcome return, he got back up, shook off the punch, and rededicated himself to beating the cancer in the only ring he could control – his daily life.

With medical treatments reshaping his body, he focused on the only world truly under his control – the one inside his head and heart. For him – and those who live this attitude – grace is probably the word we could use to describe this heightened sense of purpose. And for Stuart, this particular word fits.

Again, this is not about the deeds, the lives he touched, or the things he did to focus his life. No, we should celebrate the gift he leaves behind – the poignant reminder of the value of life and how every day of our lives really matters. To do anything less would be denying the very thing he wished to demonstrate.

Recently his peers recognized Stuart not for his professional accomplishments, but rather the manner in which he lived each day.

Standing at the podium, hot lights beating down on his exhausted body, Stuart stood tall, proud. He’d endured two surgeries within the week in hopes of attending.

His words were strong, powerful, and well-chosen.

“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer,” he said. “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”

The truth is that these are not the words of a dying man. No, rather these are the words of living man — and a lesson we should all remember.

– 30 –

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