David De Francisco
I recently finished my final round of Chemo eye drops.
This past February I had a biopsy that revealed a rare form of Melanoma which affects the eye. Thankfully I caught it early, while still in the pre-cancer stage.
Within two weeks I had surgery which successfully removed all of the tumor. It was a rather large area, I am grateful for the aspects of modern medicine that are pretty amazing. The final part of the surgery was the equivalent to a skin graph, only on the eyeball. So, while my eye looks red, thankfully it doesn’t look like the surface of the Moon.
More cause for gratitude is that my PET scan came back negative, there are no signs of cancer anywhere in my body. While recovery wasn’t fun, and I will have another procedure to clean up some scar tissue, the soft tissue of my eye socket adhered to my eyeball. It sounds worse than it feels or looks. Though it does affect the movement of my eye in one direction, I am very fortunate to have gotten off so easily compared to so many others who have or are battling cancer.
De Francisco’s Family Lighthearted Support
Why am I revealing this now?
Since it’s pretty much after the fact people feeling sorry for me is less likely, which helps remove the temptation to operate in some version of a victim role. I’m glad to say that decision paid off well. Feeling sorry for myself was something I did very little of and it made a world of difference for me. Feeling sorry for myself or others is a service to neither.
There were definitely times of concern and moments of fear, but they were surprisingly very few. I literally only had trouble getting to sleep on one occasion. My men’s teams did allow me the opportunity to process and offloaded my emotions.
The thing is, everyone is engaged in some sort of battle of their own, and I had no interest in making things about me. Now that I have been through most of it, I have something to offer others going through difficult times.
What did I learn?
So much. What first comes to mind are that Surrender and Acceptance are gifts. Yes, I am as shocked as anyone. I had been working towards these gifts as I discovered they put me in a peaceful state. In fact, I set the intention and pursued Surrender and Acceptance, I asked for them, I even prayed for them. I am confident this ordeal brought me the ability to learn how to be both. This is huge. It has literally altered how I experience life.
I learned how to trust without future tripping, which for me always causes needless suffering. I know pain in this life is unavoidable, what I learned is suffering is optional, it’s a choice. I missed that I had a choice all these years because I didn’t connect the dots to Surrender and Acceptance. I was in resistance to everything that wasn’t how I wanted it to be. I am now clear on the fact that the degree of my suffering is directly related to my context and the stories I tell myself about, situations, other people and especially myself.
I was taught a lesson about operating by faith and how to be better at releasing control and accepting whatever comes my way. To be clear, due to other chronic health issues I still struggle with, I still battle wanting to control outcomes. Only now that I’ve become present to a freer way of being, I can now put these lessons to practice in other areas of my life.
This situation has also taught me to be better at being in the moment, especially when the moment stretches me beyond what I fear may be too much for me to handle.
I’ve learned releasing control and being in acceptance, in all things, brings peace through an increase in my conscious contact with my higher-power. It also has deepened the level of my relationships with God, myself and others.
Issues arise when my ego gets in the way and I think I can handle a situation or I simply want to control the outcome. Handling my business is a good and necessary thing, only I have to ask myself, am I operating selfishly or am I in a state of resistance? Is this best in the long run? So, there are ongoing lessons for me around consistently practicing surrender.
The thing is, now when challenging moments come up, I am clearer about the truth of what I have control over and what I don’t. The Serenity Prayer comes to mind. When I focus on what I can and should control, that being my mindset and how I act, rather than react, peace shows up. Even if things aren’t going “my way.” Like things going the way I wanted was ever good for me. Haha
That joke is revealing. While being in MDI has me being much more intentional about how I live my life and how I show up, the truth is I’m hard headed and notorious for being stuck in my stories; which as I said causes suffering.
This cancer diagnosis and process I’ve been in, is so worth it. I’ve learned that I can make choices on a level I previously was not capable of. This temporary pain has brought freedom from myself… if that makes sense?
I no longer have to be a victim to my feelings and fears. While it’s not always easy I am no longer a stranger to this freer way of being. So, I will continue to choose to be in the process and thereby get more present to the other lessons that are there for me to learn.
I’ve also learned about taking the risk and trusting my gut. My intuition is how I think God sometimes speaks to me. The sense around what people I could trust and rely on was spot on. The ones I revealed this to showed their love for me in tangible ways. They supported me in whatever ways they could, even in ways that I felt I needed; and I am so grateful for them.
Many were by my side even if far away. Friends like Tiffany, Steve, Diane, Mike, Alex, Ray, Carla and a few others. My Men. Men like Francisco, DeCarlo, Stewart, Cheney, Pammett and Kaminski to name a few. My Men gave me the space and masculine love to be honest with myself and with them; to reveal and process. It’s not like I was without emotion in this whole thing. It in fact was rather emotional at times. However, I learned to a greater degree I can have emotions and not get lost or overtaken by them. I could have them, be in them, and not be a victim.
The love I felt from my family and my children has never been stronger, more real and present to me! I learned that God gave me outstanding kids and a caring family… Well, I already knew that.
I learned the quote, “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have.” In fact, it is not true. I always had choices to make about how I showed up in this situation and making good ones increased my belief in myself, in trusting others and my trust in God; even before I knew the various outcomes. Those fact simply amaze me.
What else I find amazing, is since returning to MDI several years ago, I am expanding my context beyond just myself, my priorities continue to change. I no longer live my life for pleasure, that too is a surrender thing. Instead, I sought purpose and peace. I asked for it. I told my higher power I was willing to be willing to go through whatever it took, as long as he was with me and I didn’t have to go through it alone. In hind sight, I asked for this. Therefore, I didn’t get into the blame game and so I was able to sidestep a lot of angst and misplaced anger.
I want to be clear I didn’t wake up one day and was like hey let’s do this “whatever it takes” thing in order to gain acceptance around who I am, who others are, what circumstances I find myself in, what pain I experience, etc. My stubborn self finally realized my striving and controlling was not working for me. I was making my life harder. It’s that freedom from myself thing again. I realized if insisting on being in control caused more pain, less peace, more suffering; then the opposite might bring me what I finally realized I needed. So, I thought I better pivot.
The men this organization taught me about checking my ego, asking for help, not going it alone and not operating as a victim. Because of them I learned what it’s like to have an army of men who are willing to walk with me through anything. Because of my men I was better prepared to pivot. I have been pivoting for some time now, only this time I really hooked it. lol
While my sight is kind of jacked up at the moment, and even if it doesn’t get better, it has been worth it. So yes, I feel beyond grateful! These lessons could have cost me a lot more physically speaking. I am a better person from all of it and my life here on earth is better than this recovering addict could have imagined. De Francisco exchanged pleasure for Peace, my selfish-centered ways for purpose. I have pivoted!
We all go through things, hard things, difficult things, things that one else can go through for us. We all have those times; I know for me they can cause me to feel so very alone.
So, if you’re going through something, and you likely are, and you need an ear, want to vent, cry, break things or break down, get a hold of me. More importantly bring yourself to your men. Ask for help. It’s your journey, only you have the choice to not journey alone.
My Parting Shot
Circumstances + Perspective = Experience
5 Points to Ponder
- You may not be able to choose your circumstances, but you can choose your perspective – Your perspective shapes your experience.
- Consider the impact that your thoughts and words have on your perspective – If you think long enough on something, you will get the feelings associated with those thoughts.
- We tend to live into the words we speak.
- Be curious. Look for what might not be obvious and discover what possibilities might come from a more useful perspective.
- Set your intention to choose and use words that empower you.
A Challenge to Consider
- Set your intention to make your mindset your advantage.
Now that you have a bit more knowledge, remember what Tom McCarter taught me: Knowledge + Action = Power. Go be your word! Go live in your power! If not me, another person in your life could benefit from you being “The Man you Always Wanted to Be.”