“I can do all this through him who gives me strength” … Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
“There’s no easy way. You gotta take a lot of beatings” … The Fighter’s Mind: Inside the Mental Game by Sam Sheridan
Before a large group of people in career transition — e.g., unemployed, recent graduates, veterans, etc. — I had the privilege of presenting a motivational talk on Thriving During a Difficult Career Transition. As a cancer patient, it is an opportunity to share some practical advice to job seekers on how to endure and ride out a life hardship, such as being unemployed.
During the presentation, I shared ten life principles of how to stay motivated when in the midst of unemployment. And one of them was how to “adopt a fighter’s mindset” from a cancer patient’s perspective. At this juncture of my presentation, I strive to emphasize that even though it’s important to conduct an effective job search and execute on the key elements of the job search process – i.e., developing an individual marketing plan…writing a cover letter or résumé…creating a portfolio…building a professional network…researching on various employers…attending job fairs or seminars on personal branding…responding to interview questions…or other necessary facets of a job search – I poignantly admonish that “each individual must don a fighting spirit in order to pull through their out-of-work circumstance.”
At the end of my presentation, I responded to a handful of questions that expanded on some of the life principles shared. However, there was one attendee who asked, “How do you get motivated when you can’t find motivation?”
I must admit that I struggled at first to answer this question because when I looked into this individual’s eyes, it was apparent that he was struggling in his job search. When I finished my response, I asked him if I adequately answered his question. He said, “yes.” But after the event, I continued to ponder on his question and my response. Looking back, I should have said something like this:
“For some time now, I’ve possessed a fighting spirit within me. This fighting spirit first took seed in the depths of my gratitude for a Christian couple who took me into their home when I needed a safe place to stay. This fighting spirit continued to grow through the guidance of a wrestling coach, who not only taught me skills on the mat, but also took it upon himself to teach me responsibility and the importance of obtaining good character. This fighting spirit continued to expand through the gratefulness for a high school principal, who helped me obtain a diploma, following my expulsion from 12th grade due to a brawl with another fellow student. This fighting spirit continued to grow by way of a ‘chew out’ from a Marine Gunnery Sergeant, who challenged me to make something of my life after the Marine Corps.
"Years later, this fighting spirit continued to grow after I made the radical decision to change my name from Matthew James Scripps to Alex James Harrington.
"What’s more, this fighting spirit continues to press on as I face my incurable cancer, because this is a husband’s charge in life: to fight for his wife and loved ones, no matter what the cost!”
"And this fighting spirit continues to charge on in order to serve as an example for my mother and sisters ... giving evidence that they too have this in them, ready to be unlocked and embraced, and to push hell back into their demons' faces for once. For they only have one life. A life to fight for oneself ... for one's lot ... one's life mission, bestowed only once by the Creator.
"But if I really look at the core of this fighting spirit, I must humbly acknowledge its true origin. This flame within me was first ignited by God, through His saving grace and love for me; affirmed by the sacrifice of His Son, Yeshua ( ישוע). For this fact alone propels me to “fight the good fight” to the end. And regardless of the outcome, I want to be known as a man who “has fought the good fight, who has finished the race, and more importantly, who has kept the faith.”"
At the end of my presentation, I closed with:
“I can honestly say that I’m very thankful for this cancer. To be utterly truthful, I no longer consider it a killing disease. Quite the contrary, it has made me more whole as a human being and as a man.”
- Clinical update: Based on the latest tests, my two tumors remain the same size with no signs of further metastasis. In October, I will undergo further tests. And if there are no signs of cancerous metabolic activity, they plan to give me a break from treatment for a while.
- Personal note: Despite the cancer being in the lymphatic system, the oncology team has done a tremendous job of keeping cancer from spreading to my organs and brain. After five tumors, I consider this a miracle!
- Community update: If you know of someone who is jobless, feel free to send them my presentation. You can click here to access.
- Prayer request: For those who pray for me on a daily basis, I would like you to add, “Thank you, Lord, for bringing cancer into Alex’s life.”
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