Dear, Eric Shanteau:
“I am pretty sure this is the right Olympic swimmer! I just read your story on ESPN.com. I wanted to let you now that I too am a testicular cancer survivor. I was a high school athletic director four years ago when I discovered it. I too put off surgery in order to complete a basketball season. After surgery I had a month of radiation. Not fun, but as you said yourself, a life changing experience. I have not taken my Livestrong bracelet off in four years now. I will never forget the moment that my doctors told me it was cancer, nor would I ever change a minute of it. It will define who you have become- a stronger and more devoted person who no longer takes the little things for granted. Your story inspires millions! Best wishes and feel free to contact me with any questions. Good luck in the Olympics and best wishes for a speedy recovery from surgery.”
– (Hiding the name)
Assistant Athletic Director
(Ivy League School)
Like the more relevant Eric Shanteau, I too willingly acknowledge my overly enthusiastic effort to play the underdog role in life. Regardless of the fact that I’m not an Olympic athlete, cancer survivor, and role model to thousands, I desperately want to follow my dreams and aspirations in succeeding in everything I wish to achieve. I love falling down and bottling up the dirt as motivation that will help me to surpass my initial goal. To only have one loss in life is far less valuable than one single win. The effort and joy I can capture are vital ingredients towards filling my heart with passion that can not be taken for granted when the appreciation remains vividly powerful. How can we ever measure another individuals success when our goals are so personal? Hearing others stories of bravery and willingness to overcome fear due to false identity has been an eye opening experience to say the least. Interview requests, emails to promote events, friend requests from ex girlfriends and letters inquiring hosting functions have been relevant during the summer every other four years. How can I find the tools to be as prominent and important to others on such a minuscule platform?
In my life, I’d rather closely lose than ever convincingly win. The effort is far more important than any results and the term for success is measured within my heart and not within the eyes of another. We go through life being graded, judged and evaluated. From head to toe, actions and reactions, or by a stopwatch. The decisions we tend to make are often calculated in great detail by another from afar. What they fail to realize, is what you do when no one is watching is the greatest measuring tool in determining the validity of your soul and the measurement of your value in this life. The greatest of all deeds are the gestures you are willing to give without receiving any accolades. Deeds that are never accountable, except in your own heart and by someone who calculates them when your time has passed. If my heart is full when that time comes and I still do not have enough to cash in, I will gladly accept my fate.
Please allow me to introduce myself: I’m the Eric Shanteau from Ohio – not Georgia. I have no idea how to swim and I have yet to break a single bone in my body, let alone be diagnosed with cancer. I’ve ran in two full marathons and a handful of half’s – I struggle every day with finding enough energy to even stand. Sometimes I do not move for days and have been diagnosed with something I do not entirely agree with. I’d love to find the perfect wife and soul mate – I love women with as many tattoos as possible and who have a free spirit and the ability to make irrational decisions on a dime. The careless, the better. I want to have kids. I think procreation is very important towards leaving a lasting impression on the world after I pass – I’m not entirely sure I like children. I’m shy – However, if you know me, I have a ton to say and perhaps too much. I contradict myself a lot in life and I have been very hypocritical of my own decisions. I try to justify everything with an explanation and to be quite frank, I’ve ran out of answers.
Lately, the silence in my life has been deafening. Sometimes, I have to talk to myself to see if my voice still exists. I chose this path in order to find one that is more suited for me and sometimes a misguided direction can right the ship. I feel emotions throughout my entire body that I know others do not. I have a belief that life is too short, that every day we roll dice from the cup of life that helplessly scatter across the floor. Although I know Maumee is and will always be home for me, sometimes I feel as though I can’t relate. It’s a settle down, raise your kids, retire, and without a doubt; an “if it aint broke, don’t fix it community.” I do not want this to detour my good will intentions in the city that I fell in love with. Every day I encourage myself to be a better person for others around me, and not myself. I’m erratically looking for the direction I need and for a helping hand to assist me in changing the world; because that is what I believe to be possible. I wont allow myself to contradict that choice. It’s a promise to myself that I will hold on the highest of all pedestals and although I can’t be awarded any medal, I justify my actions only by the effort and not the rewards.
I am my own sweetest downfall and until I can figure out a direction that seems to now be on a timed schedule, I can’t allow myself to bring anyone else down with me. More importantly, I can’t help anyone else if I can’t help myself. I promise you that this is being worked upon and in life, the only downfall will be for the lack of trying to be the best I can be for myself in order to become judged in my own eyes. I will vow to be my harshest critic and that will guarantee me an opportunity to climb to heights I once found unattainable. For myself, and everyone that allows me to maintain a prominent part in their lives. This is my promise to you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.