The Sunday Series (100): Hogan's Heroes
Warrior. Survivor. Hero.
You don't claim these titles because you want to, you claim them because you earn them. To go from fear, to fortitude, to good fortune - you have to fight, you have to battle, you must have unwavering faith and you must never, ever give up.
Meet Lawrence Joseph "Larry" Hogan Jr.
In 2014 Hogan was a long-shot to win the top political spot in the state of Maryland because he represents the minority of those who affiliate with a political party in Maryland.
"Larry" is a Republican.
But on November 5th, 2014 Hogan defeated the Democrat, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, in a landslide. In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1, the margins of Hogan's victory were significant. But as big as the win was it was simply a precursor of a much larger battle looming on the horizon, one which would put politics and life in perspective.
Hogan was sworn in on January 21, 2015, but only six months later he stood at the podium in the State House to announce to Maryland and to the world that his robust political agenda would face its greatest challenge, not from the members of the General Assembly, but by a beast living inside of him.
Governor Hogan had cancer, late stage-3 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a very advanced and aggressive form of cancer.
"I couldn't believe how quickly it had all happened," says Hogan. "I went from being focused on how to turn our economy around and put people back to work, to doctors I had just met telling me that a very advanced, very aggressive cancer had rapidly spread through my body. My first thought was how I was going to tell my family and how I was going to tell the people of Maryland."
Governor Hogan soon began an intensive 18-week chemotherapy regimen that began with four days in the hospital, in intensive care. Chemo can take you down, but the man who defied the odds to get elected to the top spot in the state was only looking up. "Having a positive mindset is perhaps the single most important thing you can do when you are faced with a challenge like this," says Hogan. "If you start to get down on yourself, or let yourself become negative, you lose sight of of what you're fighting for. Staying positive kept me focused on what's really important: my family, the relationships I had forged with my fellow patients, and working on behalf of the people of Maryland."
One of those people is a special woman, who in January of 2015 became the First Lady of Maryland. "One of my biggest supporters was my wife, Yumi. We would start every day with a prayer and she was always by my side.
Every cancer warrior has their own story and so many gain inspiration from others fighting for survival, those who are trying to beat back the beast as well. To become a hero in this struggle you must look for others who are doing the same.
"I have many heroes," says the Governor. "Kids like five-year-old Andrew Oberle, who I met through partnering with the Cool Kids Campaign and who was also fighting cancer. Andrew and I became pen pals and he would give me advice on dealing with chemotherapy. Another hero of mine is Jimmy Myrick Jr. Jimmy and I met at the hospital during our treatments and I was immediately struck by his positivity and sunny outlook. I learned he was a 20-year veteran of the Polar Bear Plunge and a Special Olympics athlete. He inspired every person he ever met and I felt he was the perfect person to win the first-ever Governor's Special Olympics Maryland Medal of Courage Award. Sadly, Jimmy lost his battle with cancer last month. But I was determined to ensure his legacy lived on and now that award will be known as the Jimmy Myrick Jr. Award."
To be respected in a position of political power in America you must be in service to others, and if you do it right, those you serve are ready to respond and to support you, especially when times get tough. Governor Hogan says "the outpouring of prayers, well wishes and thoughtful words was absolutely amazing. I would read every single note. I would tear up over the "get well" artwork that schoolchildren tucked into bursting envelopes. I met with Pope Francis and received his blessing on behalf of cancer patients around the world. Country star Tim McGraw even dedicated a performance of his song, Live Like You Were Dying, to me. These acts of kindness kept me strong, kept my spirit strong and are undoubtedly among the reasons why I am on the road to recovery."
Fortunately for Governor Hogan the road in his cancer journey did not become the one less-traveled. Instead, the intense chemotherapy regimen to fight the lymphoma worked, and just before Thanksgiving the governor announced he was in remission, although he still gets monthly treatments to keep the cancer at bay.
Just a few months ago and prior to his final round of chemotherapy, the governor paid a visit to the Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore. It was not what he expected. "That visit was a total surprise," says Hogan. "I thought we were going to the Ronald McDonald House to visit with some of the patients and their families there. I had no idea they were holding a special pep-rally for me. I was blown away that the staff and patients there were so invested in my fight when they had their own problems to deal with. That night taught me a valuable lesson about the incredible good nature of people and how important it is to come together and support one another during times of challenge."
One is too small a number to achieve greatness, you can't do anything of real value alone. If you are going to be a hero in your battle against cancer you will rely on other heroes to champion your cause, to support you during your struggle - to love, to serve, to care. Governor Hogan knows he has been blessed to meet heroes at every twist and turn in his journey.
"One thing I want to share with others who are going through the same challenges, is that I am just like the more than 70,000 people diagnosed with lymphoma every year - who fight it, who beat it and who continue doing their jobs at the same time. Although I do hope to inspire others who are faced with this challenge, I want them to know that it is their fight, their strength and their determination that has truly inspired me, and for that, I say thank you."
Thank you to all the Heroes, every one.
Until next time thanks for taking the time,
Mark Brodinsky: Author, Blogger, Speaker, Speech Writer, Emmy Winner, USHEALTH Advisors
Huffington Post: (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-brodinsky/)
The Profile: (http://www.talkinggood.com/profiles/MarkBrodinsky)
USHEALTH Advisors: (http://www.prweb.com/releases/markbrodinsky/072015/prweb12862708.htm)