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How I Survived a Very Difficult 8 Weeks

It was about two years ago that they found a tumor in my wife’s eye.

It was February 2019, and she had gone in for an eye exam to see if she could get Lasik. The doctor did a double take and suggested my wife go see a specialist.

48 hours later, at the retina specialist, they found a tumor in her right eye.

There was a possibility that the tumor could be harmless. But the doctor had said it didn’t look benign.

I felt so weak. I felt as if everything around me was suddenly made of dust — slipping out, slipping away, completely outside of my grasp and control.

* * *

When they find a malignant tumor in your eye it usually means that it’s already too late. It usually means there is Stage IV cancer somewhere else in your body and the tumor in the eye is usually a “secondary” cancer that is showing up from something that has already spread.


It was difficult for them to know for sure merely by taking pictures of my wife’s eye. So they ran a slew of tests to find out for sure if there was cancer anywhere else in her body, and over the following 8 weeks Anna and I spent a lot of time at hospitals, labs, and doctor’s offices.

Through all of it, my wife was so calm. Physically, she felt fine; strong. She was confident that her body was healthy. She knew that everything would be okay.

I, however, was a complete wreck. I went with Anna to every appointment; I couldn’t bear to be away from her.

I remember bringing my iPad with me to the waiting rooms, hoping to get some work done while Anna had went through another test. But I rarely got any work done. Most of the time I would just sit there.

During those 8 weeks, each test they did helped to fill in a piece of the puzzle. The CT scan. The PET scan. MRIs. Blood work…

Test by test, they were able to remove possibilities of different cancers. There was no lung cancer. No breast cancer. No liver or thyroid cancer.

On a Friday afternoon we got a call from the oncologist’s office.

They were calling to cancel our next appointment…

They said there was no need to see again because the final test results had come back and there was nothing to be found.


No cancer.

Thank God!

The tumor in my wife’s eye was diagnosed as vascular and benign. A few months ago they did a cold laser treatment to cut off its blood supply and now, two years later, all continues to be well.

Those few months were the most difficult, challenging, and stressful of my entire life.

* * *

When things are going well then you get to choose which area of your life to focus on.

But sometimes a specific area of your life chooses you, and your only response is to bear the weight of it.

For many of us, this past year has dropped a slew of demands and responsibilities and changes that we did not want nor choose. But we have borne them and made the best of it.

* * *

Sometimes you get to pick where to focus your attention. Other times, it picks you.

But either way, you only have the energy to focus on just one or two areas of your life at a time.

As I mentioned on Wednesday, this presents a HUGE dilemma.

If you cannot give your full attention to more than two areas at a time, then what happens to everything else?

How do you ensure that the important areas of your life don’t get neglected, even if you don’t have the energy to give them your full attention?

How do you keep your whole life in balance?

* * *

The answer, dear reader, is found in your habits and routines.

Your habits are what help you stay on track and healthy in certain areas of your life, even when those areas are not your primary focus.

“People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits, and their habits decide their futures.” — FM Alexander

Even though my life was an emotional wreck during those months…

And even though my attention was focused entirely on my wife and her health…

I was still able to stay on track with the other areas of my life. My physical health. My work. My kids. None of these took a huge dive during that time.

Because I had — and still do have — a simple framework for keeping things on track.

This framework consists of my lifestyle habits, my daily routine, and my process for focus.

Habits Routine Process

Next week I hope you’ll join me for our final webinar of 2020.

How to get it all done and manager your life. (a.k.a. Shawn’s repeatable system that creates focus, breathing room, and momentum.)

I’ll be sharing:

  1. Why each of these matter (habits, routine, process).
  2. How they each fit together.
  3. The approach I use to incorporate them in my own life.

The live webinar will be held on Tuesday, 8 December, at 2pm Eastern / 1pm Central.

Register here to get your link to join.

I hope to see you there!