A Handbook for Life Center Blog

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Birthday Thoughts: 60 is 3 Years Away



This article is being written on my 57th birthday.  Fifty seven didn’t sound old to me until I realized that in three years I’d be turning sixty!

My situation is even more precarious because ten years ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and eight years ago was when my neurologist told me that I had Parkinson’s disease. 

I know that there are no guaranties of health or happiness in life.  Many people with my medical history may look at the future with fear and uncertainty.  I’ve decided to embrace the opportunity to take control of my health, and live as active and vibrantly as I can.

I’m focused on enjoying every day and making the most out of my life.  The more I talk with people with disabilities and chronic diseases across the country the more excited I am that my positive attitude towards life is not so unique or different.  I’ve met people with various disabilities and diseases who are extremely positive in their lives.  In Ohio Paul Vasko, author of A Peek at Living, calls his Parkinson’s, “an inconvenience.”

I recently spoke with Jesse Lieberman in Charlotte, NC.  When Jesse was 25 he was in his third year of medical school and was engaged to be married.  He was helping a neighbor who was locked out of her home.  As Jesse was climbing up to a second floor window he fell and fractured his spinal cord.  Jesse is paralyzed for life. 

He could have wallowed in self pity and withdrawn from life.  Instead, Jesse went back to medical school and is now a board certified cardiologist specializing in patients with spinal cord injuries, one of only four such specialists in the U.S.

Jesse married his sweetheart and they now have twin five year old sons.  He and I were discussing our health challenges and our positive attitudes about life.  Jesse’s comment to me was, “Rich, we’re the lucky ones.” 

My birthday commitment to myself and my plea to you is to make the most out of every day.  I constantly remind myself that there’s always someone better off than me and someone worse off than me.

Have a positive attitude about your life.  Enjoy every day, and be one of the lucky ones yourself.

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