George’s Journal

Thanks for visiting the site. It’s been too long since my last post, Christmas! Cheryl, Jacquelyne, Eva and I had a very enjoyable holiday season, and we hope you did also. I have never been more thankful and excited to start a new year!  None of us can really afford to take a day for granted. I am absolutely loving, 2011!

A belated Happy Valentine Day to everyone. It was great to be home this year to celebrate with my girls. It is astounding how three people – my kids and wife – could go through two pounds of Sees chocolate so quickly! I also want to extend belated happy birthday wishes to my sister Mary Beth Circocco (February 15th) and Angie Merkel (January 24th).

The beginning weeks of 2011 have been very busy, exciting, challenging, and full of optimism.

ICE SKATING AND NEUROPATHY DO NOT MIX

As many of you know, I have neuropathy in my right leg and foot. Believe me, I’m not complaining, it’s much better than the alternative! The main symptoms of my case of neuropathy are swelling, muscle weakness, tingling, numbness, cramps, spasms, loss of balance and coordination, and sensitivity to touch. Peripheral neuropathy is the term for damage to nerves of the peripheral nervous system, which may be caused either by diseases of or trauma to the nerve or the side-effects of systemic illness.  There are four patterns of peripheral neuropathy, and I have the most common form, called peripheral polyneuropathy, which mainly affects the feet and legs.

There are at least a couple reasons why I developed peripheral neuropathy: (1) poor blood circulation in my right leg from blood clots (Deep Vein Thrombosis) due to the large tumor mass in my lower right abdomen, and (2) the toxicity of the drug, vincristine that was infused in me as part of chemotherapy regimes, over a half dozen times n 2009 and 2010. The main side-effect of vincristine are, you guessed it, peripheral neuropathy.

January 2nd, I did something not too bright. I took my kids and a couple of their friends ice skating. Skating is something I’ve done all my life, whether on ice or ground, whether forward or backward, and I NEVER fall. Last winter, I was in no condition to even consider ice skating. Well, in my eagerness to get back on the ice (prematurely) I didn’t have the agility/balance to avoid several girls falling in front of me. Consequently, I took a spill and landed directly on my right hip. Fortunately, X-Rays and MRI showed no fractures, but I badly strained my hamstring and spent a week on crutches. The injury is healing, and I’m just now starting to work out again.

Now for some good news, I had an ultrasound on my right leg a few days ago to see if I still had the blood clots in my leg. I found out Friday from Dr. Chen that they’re gone!  After 18 months, I no longer have to give myself daily injections of Lovenox, hurray!

ANNUAL JANUARY PRIORITY….GOAL SETTING

Many of you have made New Year’s resolutions and/or set goals for 2011, I hope you’re making good progress-to-date. In that light, I want to share a couple personal experiences and observations. Over the past seven weeks or so, I’ve been reflecting on 2011 goals. Every year, I sit down and write out 10 personal and, now, with Cheryl, 10 family goals.  I have three examples of personal goals to share with you. These three goals would not have been achieved without the good Lord’s blessing, i.e., divine intervention.

In October of 1995, at age 37, I set two important goals: To be married, and have a child before turning 40.  At the time I was living a fun bachelor life in San Francisco, and didn’t have a serious girlfriend. Cheryl I started dating, September 1996. We relocated her from Chicago in January 1997 driving an over-loaded Camry cross country, needing snow chains to pass over the Sierras. We were married, August 30, 1997. Amazingly, we had Jacquelyne ten months later, June 24, 1998, eleven days before I turned 40!

January 1, 2010, as you know, I was fighting for my life. Chemotherapy was not effective at shrinking the aggressive tumor in my abdomen, and I didn’t qualify for the much needed stem cell transplant (SCT).  My primary goal, committed to paper January 7th, was to “Be cured of cancer by June 1, 2010.” On March 12th I was advised by Dr. Chen that, “unless something dramatic changes, you have two months.”  Well, something dramatic DID happen. The good Lord blessed me with a miracle.  By April 8th, the tumor had “melted” from 12 cm to 5 cm, and was in remission. I was cleared to receive the SCT, which took place May 6th. I was released from the hospital, May 28th, and on June 12th, I found out I was cancer free!  We continue to hope and pray the cancer is gone forever.

PROFESSIONAL PEAK PERFORMANCE GURU

For about 20 years or so, I’ve benefited from Brian Tracy’s teachings. Mr. Tracy is a San Diego-based self-help author, who runs a company specializing in the training and development of individuals and organizations. I refer to him as a “peak-performance coach.”  His presentations and books focus on topics such as leadership, goal setting, time management, sales, managerial effectiveness, and business strategy. Every January I would get my team/employees together and go through a personal goal-setting exercise largely authored by Mr. Tracy. People who write down their goals and focus on them daily are much more likely to achieve them. Here is his philosophy:

“The potential of the average person is like a huge ocean unsailed, a new continent unexplored, a world of possibilities waiting to be released and channeled toward some great good.” – Brian Tracy

Mr. Tracy, publishes a Goal Planner, “Your blueprint to a Lifetime of Success, Prosperity and Achievement.” This workbook is designed to help you identify your passions, establish your priorities, set your goals, establish habits conducive to achieving your goals, track your progress, and hold yourself accountable – all good! For example: “(1) Make a list of 10 goals you would like to achieve in the next year? (2) What one goal on this list would have the greatest positive impact on your life if you were to accomplish it within 24 hours? (3) What is your deadline for achieving this goal? (4) List 3 problems or obstacles that stand in your way of achieving this goal. (5) List 3 additional skills or forms knowledge that you will require to achieve this goal. (6) List the 3 most important people, groups, or organizations whose help and cooperation you will require to achieve this goal. (7) Based on your answers to the above, make a list of 7 steps you could take immediately to begin achieving this goal.” This is an excellent exercise that takes determination, discipline and commitment.

Another quote from the business world that resonates with me is: “Here is a basic rule for winning success – Let’s mark it in the mind and remember it. The rule is:  Success depends on the support of other people.  The only hurdle between you and what you want to be is the support of others. – Tom Hopkins

Your support and prayers helped inspire me to accomplish my primary goal of good health. Thank you! In concert with your care and concern, there is a supreme influence….

BEST “SELF-HELP” BOOK OF ALL TIME?

This may be a bit heavy for some of you, but please bear with me. As a life-long Christian, I was quite familiar with the bible, but was not really a student of it. However, I had an epiphany over a year ago. During my hospitalizations and frequent setbacks with treatments, I found reading scripture to be comforting and increasingly instructive. In my view, the bible is the most informative, meaningful, powerful resource/tool for you to make the biggest impact on your life. It’s not only the best-selling book of all time, but also the best book (period) on how to change and improve your life. It’s not really a “self-help” book, because God is the powerful force behind your changes.

There are roughly 90,000 self-help books currently available. Most filled with good advice. Intellectually, what I’ve learned is that most of these self-help books gleaned their source material from the original source, i.e., the bible. The constraint is that none of those books can do what the bible does. Reflecting on my Catholic education, I’ve heard this all my life, but it never registered completely until my health crisis.  Rick Warren of Saddleback Church says that none of those self-help books can give you the power to do what they say to do. Only God can give you the ability to truly change, accomplish your big goals. Mr. Warren calls these powerful goals, “Godly goals.”

I’ve discovered that once you begin to consistently read the bible and study some of the verses, you realize a remarkable depth to your understanding, as well as the ability to make changes in your life guided by the Holy Spirit. Below are just a few (of hundreds) biblical verses that provide insight and guidance to help you accomplish your goals.

GOALS, FAITH, COMMITMENT AND GOD’S POWER

Setting goals is part of spiritual discipline. It’s not just a good idea. The bible says you need to set goals in order to grow in your faith. Goals stretch you and help you become all God wants you to be. How many times have you heard your parents, teacher, counselor, coach, business leader or author tell you to set high goals, because they will motivate you and enable you to reach your potential? This (originally) comes right out of the bible:

So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. (Philippians 3:15-16)

“I do not run without a goal. I fight like a boxer who is hitting something—not just the air.” (1 Corinthians 9:26)

“According to your faith will it be done to you.” (Matthew 9:29)

Every time you set a goal and say, “I believe God wants me to do this by such and such a date” – that’s a statement of faith.  No goal is really a goal by default. For example, if you don’t have a health goal, then your goal is to stay the same or get worse. My health goal was to get rid of cancer, and there is no way I could achieve THAT goal without God’s will.

What does this mean? My interpretation is it means we can and should, indeed must, set goals that are bigger than ones we can reach on our own.

“You will NOT succeed by your own strength or power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.” (Zechariah 4:6)

“Without faith it is impossible to please God ….” (Hebrews 11:6)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Godly goals are achieved only through God’s power. That is what makes them different from every other goal planning program on the planet. None of the self-help books or goal-setting programs can give you the power to do what they say to do. They can certainly inspire and motivate you, but only God can give you the power to change. I wanted to share these insights with you….because I learned them the hard way.  I would love to get your thoughts on this topic.

WEBSITE UPDATES….A BIG THANK YOU TO MIKE STOVER AND JOHN

To close out my first post of 2011, I’d like to recognize a very generous, giving person, Mike Stover, who has partnered with my brother, John, to develop this site and create a wonderful communication vehicle that has greatly aided my recovery. Mike owns a website development company called Propel Pages. You may have noticed some recent changes by John and Mike, i.e., photo on home page, Welcome and George’s Story. Also, John uploaded photos from Thanksgiving and Christmas in the Photo section. Check it out.

If you or someone you know are in need of a stronger online business presence, take a look at www.propelpages.com. Mike’s expertise and list of clients is impressive. He is a tremendous resource for web development and SEO (search engine optimization). If you want to take the next step to enhance your professional image, develop your brand, and generate leads, Mike’s your guy.

There will be more changes in the future as the site transitions to more of a resource for everyone committed to fighting and finding cures for cancer, particularly patients, survivors and caretakers.

PRAYERS NEEDED

Please pray for the comfort, strength and recovery of these cancer patients:

  • Phil Caruso (Uncle Bruno’s brother) – Pancreatic cancer; Palm Beach, FL
  • Melany McAdams (Kristin Tallman’s friend) – Breast cancer, Laguna Niguel, CA
  • David Pugh (Mike Popovich’s friend) – Thymic carcinoma; Charleston, SC
  • Shiu Hong Yau (Carmilla Lau’s father) – Multiple myeloma; Los Angeles
  • Bob Zens (Tim & Kelly Blett’s friend) – PLL Prolymphocytic Leukemia; Laguna Hills, CA

BEST WISHES FOR 2011 – HOPE YOU ACCOMPLISH ALL YOUR GOALS

Cheryl and I hope to celebrate with you this year, in spirit, if not in person.  We’re very grateful for your prayers and support.

God bless you and yours,

George

…”With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

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