My guest this week is Terry Tucker, an extraordinary man and cancer warrior who has chosen to live a healthy and fulfilling life even in the face of imminent death.
A Passion for Law Enforcement
After graduating from college with a Business Administration degree, Terry began work in the corporate headquarters of Wendy’s, the International Hamburger Chain. From there he progressed into Hospital Administration, but none of that was his passion. He really longed to work in law enforcement.
Terry’s grandfather had been a Chicago Cop in the 1920’s to 1950’s, so Terry’s dad had first hand experience of the dangers that life choice involved. He did not want that for his son and diametrically opposed Terry’s decision. Instead he guided Terry towards the safer route of college and a business career. At the time, Terry’s dad had cancer, so out of respect and a desire not to cause him more pain, Terry acquiesced.
After his father’s death, Terry had a second chance at his dream career when he came across an advert to train as a reserve police officer. After discussing it with his wife, he enrolled and followed through with joining the reserve force. From there he progressed into working full time as a police officer and shares some of his stories as a rookie cop facing gun fire and as an undercover narcotics investigator.
But the life threatening experiences Terry faced in the police force, are insignificant compared to the daily battle he now endures.
What It Takes To Be Cancer Warrior
Terry’s greatest life challenge first came to light in 2012. What initially appeared as an insignificant looking callous on the base of his foot, turned out to be something far more sinister. The diagnosis was as a rare form of cancer called Acral Lentiginous Melanoma.
After undergoing surgery for the tumour, Terry spent the next 5 years on weekly injections of Interferon which gave him severe flu-like symptoms for two to three days every week. He lost fifty pounds and lived with constant fatigue, nausea and body aches. It got to the point where the medicine became so toxic to his body that he ended up in an intensive care unit with a fever of 108° (usually considered incompatible with being alive).
The Interferon was stopped and the cancer immediately came back which led to having his left foot amputated in 2018. In April 2020 (as the world was dealing with the initial outbreak of the Covid pandemic) Terry was back in hospital alone and afraid, facing an operation to have his leg amputated above the knee.
In his written biography Terry says the one thing he has learned through all his pain and suffering is that:
“You have two choices in life. You can succumb to the debilitating discomfort and misery, or you can learn to embrace it and use it to make you a stronger and better human being.“
Terry has chosen the latter. But this heroic choice and his battle with cancer is not over.
Facing A Life Sentence
Listening to him talk so calmly about his challenges, you could be forgiven for not realizing that Terry is currently dealing with tumours in both lungs. The treatments are no longer about curing him; the best they can do is buy him a bit more time. Terry says his passion was to work in law enforcement and because he was able to embrace and live that passion, facing the end is not so scary. In fact he is excited to see what’s on the other side of death. He tells people…
“Wherever you are in life, look at the end game.
What are people going to say about you at your funeral?
What is your legacy going to be?“
This is an extraordinary story and undoubtedly Terry is one of the greatest cancer warrior I have met. His courage is an inspiration and I hope it brings insight and hope to others facing similar challenges.
Thank you for joining me with Terry Tucker. You can learn more about Terry through his website ‘Motivational Check’ and his book Sustainable Excellence (links below).
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