It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

Tim Sanner
Tim Sanner in Israel, January 2014

Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Early in 2015, an MRI revealed a cancerous tumor in my brain. The initial prognosis was that I wouldn’t make it through the year. I was told – twice – that I had about 3 months to live. It was February and my youngest daughter was getting married four months later in June. My first goal was to walk her down the aisle, which I did.

I had two brain surgeries within 5 days during that February in 2015, then a third surgery to address a bowel obstruction. I ended up staying almost four weeks in the hospital. It was certainly a rough way to start that year. The situation affected not only me, but also my wife, my 3 children, and my sisters and their families on the East Coast. It was especially difficult for my dad, who had come out to Arizona from Pittsburgh to stay with us for the winter.

I now faced a major obstacle like none I had never even considered before. Initial trips to the numerous doctors were unbelievably demanding. Even with a walker I had trouble going very far and a tough time getting from the parking lot to the doctor’s office. Then, I had more walking to do to get to whatever room I was examined in. Then I had to walk back to the car. It’s shocking how a simple thing like walking 25 yards can suddenly become so difficult.

Slowly but surely, I’ve been able to gain strength, get my senses back, reclaim my sense of humor, and best of all, not be a general burden at home. Regaining my capabilities has allowed me to care more for myself, and allowed my wife to go back to doing more of her own work, which she somehow managed to keep up with during the previous months’ chaos.

I tell you this story as a reminder that problems almost always get in the way of our goals. Sometimes they make us grumpy. Sometimes they stop us in our tracks. Most problems occur when we realize that something that was planned is not in place, or is not as complete as we originally thought. This happens a lot in “work.” Yet the nature of “work” is to fix the problem – whatever it is. That’s why it’s “work.”

We all work hard to achieve our goals by the date scheduled. This is true for the various tasks done at our jobs, and also includes chores that need to be completed at home. Almost inevitably however, something will go wrong and potentially get in the way of completing the work on time. It might be a minor thing that goes wrong, or it could be a huge thing.

A problem is likely to arise for you the next time a task needs to be completed. However, working through each problem helps us grow, sometimes in obvious ways, but more often in ways that are small and subtle. Yet every time, we gain insight and knowledge, which helps us address future problems. It’s important to make your way toward a correction by your own devices or with assistance from a team member. Grumble if you must. But realize that once you’ve corrected the problem, you’ve gained additional experience that is critical to your life’s growth – no matter how small. You will be a stronger employee – and a better person – as a result.

My second goal, to beat the cancer, appears to be progressing in a positive direction. It’s now November of 2016 and I’m still kickin’ (so to speak!). Today, November 9th, is my 58th birthday. It’s been 21 months. I have been through hell and am most assuredly making my way back. I’m certainly not 100% but I’m much better than I was, and, after subsequent MRIs, my oncologist continues to give my wife and me good news. I am happy to be here. Remember that the effort isn’t over until all of the time has expired.