I know… I know… it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve blogged. I know I said I’d keep this up, so I’ll try to do better. I promise!
Last Thursday, Patty and I had the privilege of being the guest speakers for the National City American Cancer Society Relay for Life Kickoff! The plan was that Patty would speak first about her experience then I would follow with speaking about the “husband’s perspective.”
I have about a half hour drive to and from work each way. This is my “thinking” time. So about a week before this event I gave a lot of thought about what I would say and ran it though my head until I felt comfortable. Patty, on the other hand, is busy with Avery during the day and is pretty exhausted by the end of the day. She had somewhat of an idea what she would talk about and the morning of the event she took some time to put her thoughts on paper.
Patty is so funny. She is a great public speaker and you’d think it just came naturally to her. That is anything but the truth. She’s a nervous wreck! I got home from work that Thursday afternoon around 3 p.m. Patty was sitting on the couch holding Avery. I can read her like a book! I could just feel the tension in anticipation of speaking radiating from her. She said she had written her talk down and would most likely end up reading it at the event. (Again… I know her, she’ll start by reading but end up freelancing without notes.)
We got to the event early, about an hour early to be exact! It was at a restaurant so we had time to have some dinner. Little did we know that they were serving dinner at the event! It’s ok… it kept Patty busy and her mind somewhat off public speaking. The event started at approximately 6:30 p.m. The Chairman of the Relay started things off followed by the Mayor of National City who said a few words. Then they announced “Patty Sousek and her husband, Ed, are going to speak about their experience with cancer.” People clapped as Patty held her speaking notes in a sweaty death grip and we made our way to the podium. Patty talked first. She placed her now crumpled notes on the podium and started things off. She did really well. Her voice never quivered and she was just the Patty we all know and love. As I knew… she started by reading her notes word for word then shortly thereafter, she used her notes to just trigger talking points. It was very heartfelt! I stood behind her with complete pride! They had told us to keep our talk short and Patty finished easily under 5 minutes. Then came my turn. I’ve done a lot of public speaking over the years and I do a lot of public speaking in my current job, so getting in front of a crowd doesn’t intimidate me in the least. In fact, those of you who know me, know that I just love being the center of attention. I had a pretty good outline in my head of what I wanted to cover and I was confident I could do this from my heart. I started my talk. Things were going well for the first minute or so, then it happened! I was starting to say: “Then came June 22nd… a day I’ll never forget, the day Patty was officially diagnosed with cancer.” About three-quarters of the way through that sentence, I was engulfed with emotion like a title wave! I had to stop because I knew what was to follow! TEARS!!! I thought to myself: “Ok Ed… get a grip!” I stopped speaking and hung on! You could hear a pin drop at this moment! Within maybe 10 seconds I could feel the emotions passing! I thought “Phew… I dodged a bullet on that one!” At least I got through it and didn’t act like a blubbering fool! So I continued with that sentence about June 22nd. Immediately that damned wave of emotions hit me again! “Ok Ed… What’s going on here?” I had to stop again… I closed my eyes for a second and did a quick prayer in my head…. “God… help me get a grip!” I looked up at the silent crowd staring at me… I said: “Wow… I don’t know where this is coming from!” and continued with my talk. My talk lasted, with those two interruptions, about 10 minutes.
Those two waves of emotions really caught me by surprise! I’ve never spoke in public about something so personal as this. It was almost like reliving the day when Patty got the official word that she had breast cancer. That was a pretty painful day for both of us.
We plan on speaking in public about our story whenever asked. This little bump of mine won’t hold me back. I think I’ll be a little more mentally prepared, but then again, people knowing I was close to tears, showed just how this impacts your life. I couldn’t have scripted it any better!
We got home that evening around 8:00 p.m. and got busy packing for our trip up to Placerville and Lake Tahoe for the weekend. That’ll be my next blog.