As I said in my remarks after the Florida premiere of our Kilimanjaro documentary: Best. Vacation. Video. Ever. And it’s true, for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, Marc Middleton and Mike Nanus (and many others, but these two were the workhorses), and I’ll take a bit of liberty speaking for the others here, documented the greatest accomplishment of all 16 of our lives beautifully, skillfully, powerfully. And the movie (vacation video!) is set to an original score. I’ve seen the documentary twice from end to end now, and I am amazed how Marc was able to capture every event and nuance that was happening over a week and a half (except for the mobile latrines. He did leave that out.). Even though we were all there, by the time we summited, we were so hypoxic, we probably didn’t fully appreciate the stunning views that were all around us. I know I didn’t. Now, we have that forever.
This film of our “vacation” delivers a thousand different life messages to anyone who sees it. I saw some of that for myself at the Full Sail Live theater. There were 16 smaller story lines all wrapped up in a big storyline, and I would challenge any viewer not to come away inspired, impressed, and probably convinced never to step foot on Mount Kilimanjaro. The message that you can do the seemingly impossible with love, purpose, and a team behind you rang loud and clear. That’s the magic of Marc and Mike.
The premiere was a sell-out… Nearly 500 people came to see what we’d done and what the team behind the film has been up to since leaving the Deuce. Almost the entire Growing Bolder staff came from Channel 2, and I joked that there were more WESHers and former WESHers at the premiere than there ever were in the building on Wymore Road at one time. It was so great to see many old (time-passing, not age, of course) former colleagues and friends. The evening audience was complete for me, when I saw my old (time-passing, not age, of course) general manager Bill Bauman. He didn’t get me into the business nor keep me in it for 25 years, but he made many of those years the ones that I am most proud of. He pushed all of us to be better than we thought we were or could be, and he was successful with that. He showed through example that no matter how the news and social environment changed, if you stuck to your values and principles, you could always be proud of your work. Praise from him really meant something. (On the other hand, when you screwed up, it was worse than having to tell your dad you crashed the car. WAY worse.) When he left the business, I really didn’t take that long to follow. The saddest effect of him leaving was that new people coming in to the station and the business wouldn’t have the chance to become Journalists (Big “J”) with his guidance. Or his inspiration to be great.
The premiere was extra special again, because there were 6 of us from the team in the audience, and therefore together again. It was particularly great for me to have some of the team, many of my favorite people in Orlando, and my brother and mom all experiencing the climb together.
Afterward, we took questions from the audience and Marc was gracious enough to let me talk a bit about what’s up with me. I talked about my new project/mission/goal, which is to make finding and getting into clinical trials easier for other patients than it was for me. My perfect world goal is to have a small team of trials navigators at cancer centers who can talk to patients face-to-face and look up potential trials for them at that hospital or at any facility in the world. I also told everyone that a week from that day, I’ll be back at the NCI, finding out what my tumors have been up to and whether I have to start one of the trials that I worked so hard to find and now want to put off as long as I can. I’ve had some time to think about my options, and I’ve decided that another reprieve of a couple of months would be great, but really, if I have to start a trial, it just means that I’m finally actually doing something to fight the cancer. And HUGE thanks to the researchers, doctors, and other patients who have worked over the last year to make these trials available to me. So truly, again for me, it’s a win-win (although I STILL really want another opportunity to stall).
And finally, I left this warm, receptive, loving audience with this message, verbatim: “All of us have a limited amount of time here, it’s too short for most of us. It is your responsibility and it should be your great joy, to live as big, as out-of-bounds, and as adventurously as you possibly can. I’ve said it before and I’ll leave you with this now: Be great every day. You only get one chance. Live fearlessly… And eat pie for breakfast.”
Always choose pie.