When I was 21, my older brother Keith was diagnosed with a rare and deadly form of cancer called neuroblastoma.
I remember one night in particular when I stayed with Keith in the hospital. I slept in a bed beside his, and he was in terrible pain. They were giving him cocaine mouthwashes to numb his mouth, because the chemo was peeling the surface of his mouth and tongue. He screamed in pain during the night. I was freaking out at the pain my brother was in, so I went down the hall and asked the nurse to give him some meds.
“It’s not time yet,” she said.
Now I’m sure she didn’t mean to seem uncompassionate. She may have had other duties distracting her, or maybe she’d been given strict orders. Whatever her motives, she was about to feel the wrath of one much-more-motivated little brother. I was focused on Keith and his pain, and I wanted him to get relief.
I said, “I know you have rules, but I gotta tell you, he needs this now. Thank you for doing your good work, but he’s been in the hospital for weeks and one more cocaine swish isn’t going to kill him. He’s barely alive now, so give him the damned swish!”
It was the first time in my life I’d felt so strongly about something that I confronted an adult and challenged her. To my surprise, the nurse responded by bringing the pain relief for Keith. I was a little taken aback. I felt like someone who just discovered a superpower.
I can do that? Me?
That was a defining moment in my life; I experienced the power – my power – that comes with purpose and passion.
The dictionary defines Passion: a strong feeling or enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.
We might not always experience this, but believe me, it’s only a matter of having the right button pushed. Sometimes, like my exchange with Keith’s nurse, we find passion when we aren’t looking for it, or when we least expect it.
When you’re compelled and passionate about something, you, too, will break through all inhibitions and self-imposed limitations. You’ll have more energy and drive than you probably have ever felt.
We’ve all heard stories of good Samaritans who’ve somehow managed to lift cars or fallen tree limbs off people by summoning strength they’ve never had before. Some say it’s due to an adrenaline rush, and that may be part of it, but I believe it’s also the incredibly powerful knowledge that this is something that simply must be done. There’s no other option but to do what would normally be extraordinary, but now is required.
Your passion, your compelling purpose, whatever you want to call it, is like a force of nature. It cannot be denied.
I believe that if we are truly compelled by a desire to make a difference and move beyond business as usual, we are all capable of achieving miraculous results. Don’t run from your passion. Embrace it.
More to come!
PS – I’m happy to say that my brother Keith is a cancer survivor. I love spending time with him laughing, boating, and talking about the human condition. What a blessing!
Thank you Rick for your vulnerability (which you nailed way before Brene Brown finished her research on the subject) and sharing how powerful it it when we follow our passion.
I’ve wanted to give up so many times as I try to help parents see the need and awesome shift they can have with my programs.
This will get me through another week. And maybe , just maybe this will be the week it all finally clicks.
So glad your brother survived.
Founder, Hope Network For Eating Disorders