Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
I was never a writer.
I have never written as much as a blog before. I never saw any need to.
Who would care what I had to say? Why would anyone care what I thought?
It’s amazing how the darkest of times can teach some of the greatest lessons in life, and shine a light on things that matter the most.
I learned this the hard way.
I was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013, and it was then that I learned what strength and conviction really are.
They were something deep down inside of us that could rise to the occasion when we needed it the most.
Strength was not about physical size; it was something that would show its face at the toughest of times. It is rooted down in our souls, and it is what warriors are made of.
It is an inner strength that is somewhere inside of us that will tackle the unexpected challenges of life when we are faced with them. We all have it, it’s down there somewhere. I still ask myself, why wasn’t I aware of this before I got sick?
Why did something terrible have to happen for me to have a better understanding of the fragility of life, and an appreciation for living in the moment?
Sometimes it takes the most challenging events for us to embrace perspective changes.
Those changes make us better people. When my battle with cancer began at 39 years old, I learned this lesson. It took time for me to digest why I had to go through this. When I did, clarity set in. I started to understand fear and anxiety.
I began to learn more about appreciation, more about love. On May 14, 2013, I had my surgery done, a craniotomy. They removed what was later diagnosed to be a grade 3 Astrocytoma It was about 2.5 centimetres. I went home after a day and a half. I was optimistic. I understood the roller coaster of life better and was extremely confident that I would get through this.
I had my family to inspire me, to motivate and drive me to reach success.
I still dealt with stress and anxiety. My catharsis, my way of dealing with this was to write. I started sending email messages to my friends and family. I would update my condition and share my change in perspective. The responses I got were surprising and unexpected.
I was connecting with people in a way I never have before. My relationships became closer and honesty became more pure and real.
My writing became my outlet for unloading my feelings, and I would feel a sense of relief after I wrote my messages. Writing became my way of handling fear and angst. It was mine; I owned it.
I started to expand the people I included in my updates.
I began to include all types of people that I had met before, not just friends and family. We all have some connection to cancer in some form, and many I communicated with would add their friends and family to my message list. The spider web got bigger and bigger. I didn’t expect this, yet I welcomed it. I then went through chemo and radiation, and the messages I sent got more raw. They became less about updating my health, and more about the emotions I wore, and the effect this life-changing event had on my family and me.
I didn’t write because I wanted to, something had to trigger it to cause me to unload my emotions through writing, and then needing to share my message. I continued to use this gift to relieve the feelings I dealt with deep down inside of me, but I never expected it to inspire and motivate others. That’s not why I did this.
I wrote these messages for me, to address my inner demons.
I never realized what it was doing for others. Every one of us handles difficulty differently. Writing and sharing were mine. Many say or share nothing; Many share their emotions with only those close to them; whatever works for them is what is right and what needs to be done.
I never realized how many people were reading my messages that I related to, that I was kindred with, and that were on a very similar journey that I was.
I learned that in the cancer world, we are all one big family.
Supporting others during times of turmoil is what makes us the people we are, and that is what defines the legacy’s we leave. Up until that point, I never knew my messages were doing that. This is what led to me writing my book, “Starting at the Finish Line.” To share my journey with others. To let them know they are not alone on the path they have been put on.
We are WARRIORS, and we are a family of WARRIORS!
I self wrote and published my book, and I had no expectation of anyone reading it. I remember on March 23, 2018, I called my mother to tell her the book was launching that day. Her exact quote was, “You know no one is going to buy it right?” My answer was, “Of course not who cares what I have to say,” and we both laughed.
She then said to put 3 copies in your safe so when your kids are old enough they can read what really happened. I agreed and said good night.
One week later we were #1 in new sales on a variety of categories on Amazon. Seeing life with a new pair of lenses on, it made sense. I started doing interviews on ESPN NY, Magazines, Podcasts, etc.
I started to speak in front of very large crowds as a Keynote Speaker on my story and the necessity of financial preparation in advance of the bad. I digested that our community was much bigger than I ever realized.
Cancer is like buying a car.
You buy a car, you leave the lot, and you notice that car everywhere. Reality is, the car was always there, you just never noticed it until you had a connection. That was cancer, I saw it everywhere.
Life is fragile, and we never know what’s going to happen. Live in the moment, appreciate the now, always be there for loved ones, and Be BAD ASS Everyday!
Words to live by. Thank you for joining me on my journey and make sure you are Starting at the Finish Line.
Matthew S. Newman is a financial services wholesaler, husband and father to three small children, who was diagnosed with grade three astrocytoma (brain cancer) at 39 years old. Matt’s father-in-law Larry was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three years earlier. The two men found support in each other and their combined family as they worked to find normalcy in an abnormal situation. Matthew’s memoir Starting at the Finish Line chronicles the journey that he and his entire family took together which got him to a place of clarity, understanding and appreciation. The book’s underlying message of why it’s important to get your financial planning in order is both inspirational and actionable. His passion for fitness, living in the moment, and understanding the fragility of life has continually led him to being a top wholesaler countless times in his career, while also fighting cancer, becoming a top selling author, ambassador for Head For the Cure (Charity), and a keynote speaker traveling the country to share his story, perspective, and the necessity for planning.