Healthy reboots

The stories on this page are about people whose rebooting experience was deeply entwined with a critical health issue.

Doug Sudduth: When rebooting helps you recover

Doug Sudduth, whose rebooting story you can read at Rebooter Stories on this site, has had two separate diagnoses of cancer (bladder, lymph node). On both occasions his recovery was aided by his inner passion for reinvention and survival. Here’s how he describes his experience:

When I was receiving chemo and anticipating major surgery for the bladder cancer, I wanted something beyond these serious issues to look forward to. I focused on an area of my life that has been part of my rebooting, planning for a major art/craft exhibit. That exhibit was a collaboration that exceeded our expectations.

Doug following his passion

The bladder surgery was extensive and required the partial removal of some organs. It was successful, but the bladder was the primary site from which the cancer “migrated” to the lymph node. The radiation treatment for that cancer two years after successful treatment was something totally unknown to me and a bit scary. There are lots of technical aspects to preparing for it, getting tattooed on each side below my rib cage and just above my navel, to aim the device. Unknown process and unknown outcome.

I decided to regard the cold hard slab I was lying on as a relaxation/meditation place, something I had been doing throughout my cancer treatment since 2015. In my mind, I could sing, pray, take trips, quotepoems/favorite Bible verses. It was like I wasn’t there on that slab, hardly aware of the machine. Next thing I know, the staff said, “We are finished, you can get up.”

To focus my energy, I thought of something beyond waiting a few months for the scan to confirm the results. I planned a presentation on my lenticular cloud photography to the Coastal Photo Club, which required much prep and incentive.

The bladder cancer has never returned. I’m getting good results on the lymph node cancer from immunotherapy with Keytruda to prevent spreading and shrink the cells.

Almost no one makes it through such challenges without personal support and I would be remiss not to express gratitude to my loving, caring wife and caregiver, Billie Ruth, always there for every infusion, every visit with the oncologist and more, and a cadre of volunteers, drivers, praying, caring family and friends.

I have been convinced for many years, long before my cancer diagnosis, that low points in people’s lives at times uncover some deeper insight or resource that maybe they didn’t know was there. That has certainly been borne out in my case.

Gene O’Kelly: Chasing Daylight

Gene O’Kelly’s rebooting story is different from any you will read on this website, and probably different from any you will ever read anywhere.

Gene was chairman and CEO of KPMG, one of the nation’s biggest accounting firms. One day in 2005, at age 53, he was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer and given about 100 days to live. He made the most of those 100 days. He rebooted himself to write a book on how to die.

Gene O’Kelly

“Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life,” written by Gene with help from his wife, Corinne O’Kelly, and co-writer Andrew Postman, is a day-by-day account of Gene’s steady decline. A New York Times book review by Janet Maslin said in part:

“… The author taught himself new survival strategies when the habits of a lifetime failed him. Mr. O’Kelly described discovering the world around him — nature, connection with loved ones, living in the moment — as if he had never seen it before. Possibly he hadn’t. But once the bad news came, he searched for ways to savor what was within his grasp without yearning for the impossible. His religious faith was a great help in this — even if on his first post-diagnosis visit to church, the sermon happened to be the one about the camel, the eye of the needle, the rich man and heaven.

“He described his situation with dignified restraint. And he did not become one of the world’s great philosophers. But he wound up voicing universal truths not often found in business or how-to tracts. He shared them simply and clearly. And yes, he made a success out of this final mission.”

I served two years with Gene on the board of directors of the Stanford Business School Alumni Association. I had a great deal of respect for his intelligence and drive. It was a shock when I heard about his death. His book left me in awe. But that was Gene. Rebooting doesn’t get any more profound than this.Lee Callaway

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Sharing stories

You may know of others who have found that a health scare was a turning point for reinvention in their lives. Or you may have had such a life-changing event in your life. If you would like to share your story with RebootYou readers, please let us know with an email to info@rebootyou.com. If you know others with similar experiences, please let them know about this site.