My Fight with Pancreatic Cancer [[Part 2] Lesson 1]

Lesson 1: BE DARING!

You just may accomplish something significant or save someone’s life.

Let me explain……

January 3rd 2012 around 3pm

I walked into Dr. Ali’s office. He is my oncologist (the cancer doctor) and the doctor who originally explained pancreatic cancer to me back on September 19th. He also gave me my official diagnosis 10 days later.


As I’m sitting and waiting for Dr. Ali to come in the exam room on January 3rd 2012, I’m remembering the first time I was in his office back on September 19th and all we’ve been through since then.

I remembered a few months back on September 19th, I was sitting in the waiting room at Dr Ali’s office. My general practice physician, Dr. Smolak, had just showed me my CT scan and told me I had pancreatic cancer. He graciously walked me up to Dr. Ali’s office on the 4th floor that day.

I was sitting in Dr. Ali’s waiting room and I heard these 3 elderly ladies talking about “their cancer” and their treatments. 10 minutes prior I had been given the worst news of my life. These women were twice my age. I thought to myself. “This is bulls**t.” I was pissed off. “I don’t belong here, this doesn’t make any sense. I’m 35 years old, not 75.” I had to get up and walk away to collect myself. I couldn’t listen to them talk about “their cancer”.

I respect Dr. Ali a lot. You know how some doctors act like they are to too good or too busy to spend time with you? Dr. Ali was NEVER that way. He is a true professional; to the point, caring and patient all at the same time.

So on January 3rd Dr Ali walks into the exam room. He asks a few questions about my surgery and recovery but immediately goes to the computer. He asks me to bear with him for a few minutes as he reads my post-surgery summary report that Dr. Walsh had put together.

I watched his mouth drop open as he read the report. This was the first time he was getting up to speed on what happened.

After finishing the report, in near disbelief, he made a comment I WILL NEVER FORGET.

After taking a second to collect his thoughts he said, “Josh, Dr. Walsh is a DARING SURGEON.”

I sat back in my chair. I was completely caught off guard.

“What do you mean he’s a daring surgeon” I responded.

“Well, let me explain,” said Dr. Ali. “Most other surgeons would have opened you up, saw the cancer, how big it was, how it was wrapped up in all your other organs, how complicated the surgery would be and they would have sewn you back up and told you there’s nothing I could do.”

“So you are telling me I could be sitting here with terminal inoperable cancer if Dr. Walsh wasn’t willing to operate on me, take a chance (be daring)?” I asked in disbelief.

“Exactly! That’s why I referred you to him. I wanted to make sure you didn’t get lost in the shuffle or go to some other hospital. Walsh does stuff no other surgeon will do. He’s one of the very best in the country. Now you see why! I knew Dr. Walsh would be aggressive and do things others wouldn’t.” Dr Ali replied.

I sat back and thought to myself; “Wow. I could be planning a funeral right now.”

As I think about these three doctors (Dr Smolak, Dr Ali and Dr Walsh) and the experience of having successful surgery and recovery I can’t help but think about what I’ve learned and how I can apply it to the 2nd half of my life.

What can I change? What can I personally do better? What have I learned?

So here’s just the first lesson of all the different ones I’ve learned in the past 9 months.

First, I am alive and cancer free for several reasons. None are more important than the fact that Dr. Walsh was DARING.

Sometime over the past 30 years, I’m not sure when, I’ll bet Dr. Walsh made a personal decision that he would be THE BEST at his craft. Not good at his craft BUT THE BEST. He would study harder. Work harder. Work longer. Mentally prepare harder than anyone else. Then because he knew he was prepared, he would DARE to try things no one else would try. He would DARE to perform surgeries that would save lives that no one else would DARE to try.

And in the process, he would save hundreds of lives because he was more physically and mentally prepared and he is willing to be daring!

I am one of those lives.

So in 2012, I will be even more daring than before. I will prepare harder both physically and mentally. I will out work and out hustle all my competition. I will venture out into the unknown, try new things and I will be daring.


There’s most likely some venture, some trip, some business, some relationship, SOMETHING that you’d like to do this year that maybe you’ve been putting off. I ask you to DARE yourself to do it this year. No more waiting. No more obstacles. Get prepared. DARE to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Be GREAT!

Out hustle, out work and out produce all your competition. Honor the man who saved my life in your own way by DARING to change the lives of the people around you. Dare to be different. Dare to make a significant impact on something or someone you love.

January 10th 2012

I had a check up at Dr. Walsh’s office about 2 weeks ago. He told me that my follow up with him was complete. I’d need CT scans every 6 months for the next 5 years to make sure the cancer doesn’t come back but Dr Ali would do that.

This was the last time he’d need to see me. “It is over!” Walsh said. I was shocked.

But just before Dr Walsh walked out, I told him what Dr. Ali said about him.

“Hey, I wanted to tell you that Dr. Ali told me you are a daring surgeon.” I told Dr. Walsh. “He said that after seeing the complexity of the surgery most other surgeons would have sewn me back up and said there’s nothing we could do.”

Dr. Walsh shrugged it off saying, “Hey, someone’s got to do it, right?” and walked out with a smile. That’s the kind of person I want to be around and the kind of surgeon I wanted but didn’t know I was getting until that moment.

He was as confident as confident could be. He was over prepared. He had outworked everyone else. His confidence allowed him to be DARING and that saved my life.

I LOVE THIS NEXT SAYING. Have you ever heard this before?

“The guy knows what he’s doing AND he knows that he knows what he’s doing?”

Have you ever heard that saying? When you are that prepared and that confident you can be DARING. That was Dr. Walsh. That’s why I’m alive.

I challenge you this year to get prepared, get confident, be the best, out hustle and out work your competition……. AND BE DARING.

You may accomplish something significant, something you never dreamed of or even save someone’s life.

God Bless.


P.S. I have a few more significant lessons I’ve learned over the past 9 months that I want to share with you. I’ll send them to you as I gather my thoughts and get them down on paper.

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