“You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” Those were the inspiring words spoken by the famous ESPN anchor, Stuart Scott at the 2014 ESPY Awards just months before he passed away from appendix cancer.
It has been exactly 1 year today, that our world was turned (more like, violently flipped) upside down when Tara began her battle with cancer, and not a day in the past year has gone by that I haven’t dreamed of confidently proclaiming the title of this post about my wife’s “VICTORY OVER CANCER”!
Over the past several weeks my heart has soared as I’ve seen Tara tear up a dance floor, tube across the wake of a speeding boat on the lake, drive a go-cart like Ricky Bobby, give piggy-back rides, hike mountains, and even give piggy-back rides while hiking mountains.
While I’ve been giddy lately observing all the signs that “healthy Tara” is nearly 100% back, I’ve also applied Scott’s speech to the how, why and manner in which Tara Lale lives.
Tara lives with a purpose and approaches life with enthusiasm.
I’ve never once witnessed Tara drink a cup of coffee nor sip anything with caffeine, yet the instant that her foot hits the floor every morning she starts running! I’ve heard friends describe Tara as having “a child’s energy inside a grown up’s body”, and I think that’s pretty accurate. She doesn’t waste a minute of her day or her life.
Her “why” is for the Lord, and for her family. You never know what kind of parent your spouse will actually be when you first get married…..I consider myself and especially Ellie and Logan, very lucky that Tara is a WONDERFUL MOM!
When Tara and I met in college she was studying and acing classes in Nuclear Medicine, she was usually done with her semester’s homework in the first week, and she was the “go to” expert for scheduling classes instead of our official advisors because she thought it was “fun” to organize. I provide all that background to emphasize the point that she was intelligent and driven enough to become a doctor but she knew then that she didn’t want that profession because being fully involved with a family was more important to her.
She should have a PHD in “Mom’ing”. In addition to the affection, discipline, instruction and example that she has set for our kids their whole lives, over the past few months on our journey Tara has taken on the full-time challenge of homeschooling our 2nd grader and Kindergartner. No surprise that she is thriving in this role and also no surprise that our 7 year old is a “mini Tara” as she flies through her textbooks too quick for us to keep up with.
Tara also blesses as many people as she can (many of them start as strangers but have become friends) through random acts of kindness, and her general zeal and passion that is palpable during 1×1 heartfelt conversations. Her energy and positivity have always been contagious, but throughout her chemo and surgeries it was truly astounding. When asked, Tara will tell you that she feels “lucky” to have gotten cancer because she is “thankful” for the platform it gave her to share her story and testimony with others.
Her approach through all of the fears and pain of her cancer battle were the perfect example that I am so proud for my kids to see. (I.E. the “Be tough, like mommy” picture above.) She demonstrated with her actions for our kids (and for everyone else who knows her) that…..
When (not if) you encounter difficulty in your life, THIS is how a woman of faith handles it. Things are not always fair. There is no one to blame or get mad at. Life is short. Each day should be treasured, yet future goals are important. You’re not entitled to anything. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Even if things aren’t going my way, Jesus is Lord and I am saved so it’s a good day.
That is the same manner that she’s always had but I’d either been “too busy” or it was just put in a bright enough spotlight during her battle with cancer that I finally took notice. Well, I also noticed that I wanted, even needed, to be make this woman’s “Whys and Hows” a bigger part of my own life. So I started making promises while beside her hospital bed. Those promises turned into plans. We started reading and researching everything about top places to visit in America. We started mapping out possible routes and highlighting “dream destinations”. I literally started making purchases (hotels, events, etc.) at 4am from the hospital rooms beside Tara’s bed after surgeries to “force her” to heal so we can go on trips. Then we made some really bold moves like bought a new truck and then a travel camper. Then came the selling of our possessions – Craigslist could’ve saved a page for all our postings. These steps finally took us far enough down a path that we eventually reached a “point of no return” – and I took a big gulp, a deep breath and quit my job. Thus began our journey of “blind faith” and the most exciting and definitively most rewarding part of our lives.
Something that I learned from this experience that I’ll share with anyone who is interested is this…
It’s important to always have something to look forward to. Make plans now, and don’t set them for retirement or even for “one day”. Take a step now that locks you in for whatever your “someday dream” might be.
These things all add up to provide healing. Whatever battle you face I fervently believe and have witnessed first-hand examples of the power of: living with a purpose, positive thoughts, positive attitudes and the peace that transcends all understanding that comes from an absolute, unwavering faith in the Lord.