In June, Ed Marx, one of the most respected and influential leaders in healthcare IT, announced he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Throughout his career, Marx has prided himself on being a transparent leader; in keeping with that, he has chosen to document his journey in a blog series. Each installment will focus on a different aspect of his journey.
Surgery. Unless there is an unforeseen preoperative complication, my prostatectomy is slated to occur in a couple of hours.
Humility. The difference between pride and humility is hard to discern. Unbiased self-analysis is impossible. Deception is subtle. Humility can be pride masquerading as friend. Humbleness can be mistaken for pride. What brings a little clarity is facing my own mortality. The deep gratitude of global friends interceding on my behalf with positive thoughts and prayers. The continuous love and support from fellow Clinic Caregivers. My wife Simran rearranging her life to nurse me. Some thoughts below on the journey, hopefully written from humility…
Identity. I studied myself the best I knew how. After introspection, analysis, research, and philosophical discussions, I found myself. I think. At least the best I could. With much help, my life mission revealed itself: “Shape, Study, Share and Serve.” Four verbs that define who I am, what I do, and why I do it. If you drew each word in its own circle that intersected at some point with the others, I suspect that nucleus is my faith. I don’t live it well, as it sort of ebbs and flows like the tides. I desire to live it better and I hope I am at least staying even if not modestly growing. My faith is my source of passion, energy and the bedrock of my belief system that forms this identity and understanding of who I am. At the least, it launches vision and gives me something to aspire toward.
I Feel Fine that I am Fine, I Think. Lots of people asking questions and are genuinely concerned. I reply I am fine. It might be denial or not coming to grips with what is at hand. Perhaps it is part Germanic inspired stoic bravado. I don’t know. I want to believe it is the confidence I carry knowing my identity. I have no unfinished relationships nor regrets. I am blessed in many ways and need no bucket list. I have complete confidence in my work teams. While I sowed and reaped a fair amount of hurts and mistakes, they are atoned. I want to keep living a life of purpose. I want to grow old. I am content. I am married to an amazing and salacious woman, part warrior and part princess. I have 5 kids any parent would be proud of. I serve in a dream role and organization helping people around the world. I am part of great teams. Widow maker and cancer be damned. All is well.
What Good Can We Create from This? My family created a top ten list; here is one repeat and a couple new ones.
- Raise More Funds to Cure Cancer. I was set to ride my second Velosano. Given the location of my surgery, I won’t be ready mid-July. I will cheer my team and volunteer instead. My family will be here with me doing second shift, bike check-in/out. If interested in donating, here is the link for my personal page.
- Learn Deeper Empathy. I interact with many patients in my service. This journey allows me countless increased opportunities for observation and personal growth.
- Learn Deeper Digital. Part of my service is helping lead digital transformation to the point of disruption. I thought I knew what needed to be done. Well, I was only scratching at the surface. Watch out when I return.
Family. After work transition planning and parties with friends, it was time to double down on family. At our bi-annual family reunion, we found ourselves in Park City, Utah. I bobsled on the 2002 Olympic track with my youngest daughter Shalani. I ran a 10K at 7K elevation with my decades-long running buddy, Godson Jordan. I did high ropes courses with my nephews. The final day, shortly before the World Cup finals, many of my family laid hands on me in prayer. That was the bomb.
Gratitude. I am tracking every caregiver I interact with so I can show them thankfulness for their service. We must give thanks in all circumstances, even cancer.
July 5th. Surgery Scheduling. I spoke with Shelly, who let me know to arrive by 0500 Monday morning for an early OR start. She was very kind and professional as we reviewed final details.
What’s Next. Thankfully our travels back to Cleveland went uneventfully. We will manage just a couple of hours sleep before heading to surgery. Surgery should finish by noon with a minimum one-night hospital stay. Ideally, I will be discharged to home into the capable hands of Simran. Then the long road to recovery begins. After all labs are complete we will learn if the cancer was contained within the removed prostate. If yes, we can celebrate a cure. If no, we have more treatment to explore.
Professional and Personal Insights:
- I am thankful for the outpouring of support.
- I am thankful for my broader Marx family.
- I am thankful for all the new things I am learning.
- I am thankful that I have people who love me despite me.
- The continued revelation that I am where God wants me to be.
This piece is the latest in an excellent blog series written by Ed Marx, CIO at The Cleveland Clinic, chronicling his recent cancer diagnosis.