Cancer and Four Quarters

My name is Jon Acton. Until recently I defined myself by somewhat normal categories…husband, father, son, brother. Professionally a school Superintendent, life-long educator, former football coach. For over thirty years I have been a “varsity” level Crohns disease fighter continually battling a draining, but doable illness. However at the end of September, what I had considered my “normal” changed. I now have Cancer.

The range of emotions that the word cancer creates is difficult to fully express. Fear, anger, humility, confusion, frustration, hope and hopelessness all constantly swirling. The yearning that this must be a bad dream repeats itself every morning. And every morning, the physical and emotional pain not so subtly reminds me of this “new normal.”

Having a background as a high school and college football coach has provided a mental game plan to attack this disease. I have broken my cancer journey and treatment into four quarters. The goal quite simply is to survive the first quarter against cancer. Make adjustments mentally and physically in quarters two and three and put myself in a position to win quarter four. If overtime is needed, then so be it.

This simplistic approach will not appeal to everyone, nor should it. Every cancer patient creates their own mental path as to what makes the most sense to them. For me, the familiar competition of preparing for and executing a plan to achieve victory feels comfortable. Not that this journey is simple, but rather it can be broken down into manageable “quarters.” This is normal. This is manageable. This is how I Expect Victory!

I am blessed to have a support network that extends from family and friends to colleagues to prayer warriors I have never met. I am lucky. I am also lonely. No matter how much support, no one can take a radiation or chemotherapy treatment for me. So many steps must literally be taken alone. At these moments I remind myself, so many steps in life have already been taken alone. So many “I don’t know if I can do this” moments have already been conquered.

One breath at a time. One step at a time. One quarter at a time. I will fight until I can’t, but I will Expect Victory with every supportive and lonely quarter. Blessings to everyone who are on their own journey.

Husband, Father, School Superintendent