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PT and the Greater Good

Worries, Fears and the Rocking Chair

Published March 1, 2011 3:52 PM by Dean Metz

I have heard it said that worry and fear are similar to sitting in a rocking chair. You put a fair amount of energy into it, but it doesn't really get you anywhere. Two-and-a-half years ago, I was sitting on a park bench in Brooklyn Heights with my friend, Steve, discussing my worries about moving abroad and how scary it was. He put his hand on my shoulder and smiled.

He said, "That's not scary. This is scary." He pointed to the right side of his throat. He had undergone a year of chemo and radiation to combat a squamous cell carcinoma at the base of his tongue. In a week he would be going for surgery to remove the cancer. The doctors were "95-percent positive he would be left with a fully functional tongue."

I suddenly felt very small. He could see the look on my face and squeezed my shoulder. "It's OK. I would've felt the same way 2 years ago." I stopped worrying (mostly) and simply lived my life. Now I'm enjoying one of my greatest adventures ever.

Steve woke up a week later, not only without a tongue, but with only half a jaw and a permanent tracheostomy. He was initially devastated. He quickly started investigating electronic ways of communicating, how he could enjoy being in the water again (he was an avid swimmer, diver and sailor), and how he could start to redefine his life. There was no sitting in the rocking chair going nowhere for him. He and his partner, Eric, got married in their hometown of Toronto, Canada. I saw a wonderful photo of Steve in an inner tube paddling around in Oyster Bay, NY, last summer. He couldn't dive any more but he was back in the water!

I got to see them last January when I returned for the annual meeting of our sailing club. Steve had lost a lot of weight and had a problematic burn wound to his throat, but he was there having a grand time. Through his communicator, he told me he was thinking of starting some writing or artwork. There was the possibility of taking his already excellent photography skills to a new level. He was full of hope.

Things continued to worsen for him though and on Friday the 25th of February, he passed on. In honor of him, I will not put more time and energy into things like worry and fear that don't really get me anywhere anymore.


Thank you for putting things in perspective.

Deb Gauvin March 4, 2011 8:51 PM
Plainfield CT


I'm so sorry for your loss.  

Thank you for your willingness to share with us the gift Steve left you.

Janey Goude March 3, 2011 1:40 AM

I am sorry for you loss and thankful I found you again. This has cleared away the fog of fear I have been carrying around about my new love and life. At this age tomorrow is at best a 50/50 promise I will start to treat today as my only sure thing.

judy, loss prevention - store investigator , Stew Leonard's March 2, 2011 10:48 PM
Newington CT

word.  a tough reminder to live while you're alive, as so few of us do.  a "thank you" then for Steve for showing us the way.

there is no room for fear or worry in this.  they're so limiting.  you are alive - and - then - you - are - dead.  what happens during that time is all there is.  no limits.  no fear.  no worry.  just living and life.  thanks again, Steve.  sorry your time was so short.

mark washeim March 2, 2011 8:07 AM

thank you for sharing with me about your friend it is hard to loose some one close and to be so far away is a double blow.%0d%0amemories never die they go on with

rhoda clark, nursing - hca, tpc March 2, 2011 7:39 AM

so sorry to hear of the demise of your friend Dean. Glad to hear he made the most of his time left after his chemo - surely an inspiration to us all. If you are a believer the old adage is that he takes the 'good' first. As a non-believer I feel that Steve had an ultimate destination of his own and couldn't wait to get there.

Thinking of all who knew him.

Love Lynne xx

lynne, elderly - social worker, pct March 2, 2011 7:19 AM

Beautiful tribute, Dean. So sorry that you lost such a dear friend.

Sharon March 1, 2011 10:57 PM
New York NY

Beautifully written, my dear friend!  How blessed you were to have such a loving friendship!  Isn't it a wonderful gift when someone can inspire you just by being who they truly are?  I will always look at my worries and troubles differently now!  Thank you for your gift too!  :o)  Thanks for sharing such a tender story!  Your friend will always be close to you in your heart where all of your memories with him will shine and live forever!  

Tammy Wrobel March 1, 2011 8:57 PM
Uncasville CT

Dean, this is a wonderful tribute to someone very dear to you.... and through your words, you are adding to his already rich legacy of friendship......thanks for sharing.  It's a poignant reminder of what we all instinctively know but sadly forget, all too often.  Hugs to you and Jay......

Janice Miholics March 1, 2011 8:13 PM
Red Bank NJ

Dean,  you are so right.  That was Steve to a tee! An amazing guy and an inspiration to us all.  xo

Alyssa Awe March 1, 2011 6:32 PM
New York NY

Dean, a truly heartfelt tribute.  Bravo for learning the lesson Steve taught you.  Carpe diem..

Lisa Orzechowski March 1, 2011 6:29 PM
Uncasville CT

Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story, and shame on me for sitting in that damn rocking chair.

Shannon Hoy-Stewart March 1, 2011 6:11 PM
Uncasville CT

Wow.  We can all certainly learn from this story.  I am so sorry about the loss of your friend.

Mary Mahnke March 1, 2011 5:10 PM
Cumming GA

Dean, touching post and a commendable tribute to your friend. Thanks for sharing it.

Jon Bassett, Managing Editor March 1, 2011 4:25 PM
King of Prussia PA

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About this Blog

    Dean Metz
    Occupation: Staff Development Specialist
    Setting: New York, NY – Newcastle Upon Tyne, Great Britain
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