Two weeks ago, Bob Youngs sent me the final copy of his book before it was available for sale. I started reading it in the EFS office - not a good idea. Tears were streaming down my face and I had to keep brushing them back, praying Dave didn't walk into the office during my silent sobbing. I had to finish the rest at home, otherwise the EFS building would've been flooded with my teary-mess and I'm sure EFS customers wouldn't like receiving soaking wet apparel.

About a month ago, I had a cancer scare. To my relief and anxiety, it turned out to be nothing. However, it put a different spin on things when I read Bob's book. I read this book as if that scare really was cancer and I was in Bob's shoes. It touched me and left me wondering about Bob and his life. Bob and I never really spoke until the other day and his sense of humor, as well as view on life after such a traumatic life experience just amazed me. He's an inspiration to me and hopefully will be to you as well. Here's some questions I asked Bob to get more of an "inside" look at his new book.

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

A: After I got healthy, many friends and family told me that I needed to share my story. I really didn’t want to do it. For many months I struggled with just trying to put cancer in my past. Then, Dave Tate basically told me I needed to write the book. I think he knew it would help bring closure for me and that there were so many life lessons I had learned that could be shared. So, after a couple months of procrastinating, I sat down one night and started writing. I ended up writing for about a week straight. I didn’t sleep more than a couple of hours a day. I'd just sit at my computer and write. I actually wrote the nucleus of the book in a week.

Then, Dave and I exchanged some ideas and I would add to what I had. When I got done, the book was and is very raw. It’s about life and getting what you want out of life. Once I decided I was going to write about my experience, I knew I had to let it all out. That was the hard part for me, letting the whole world read about my life. I left out no details and some of the images might be a bit shocking to some. But, I wanted people to see what cancer is really like. I also wanted people to see that you can fight and win. More importantly, I wanted to share what I learned along my journey. My hope is this book will make the reader a better person in some way.

Q: What do you want others to get out of this book?

A: Hopefully, they get a lot out of it. Everyone is going to have their life touched by cancer. It could be a friend, family member, or even themselves. The first thing I want people to see is how I fought and how my support group got me through that fight. I also want people to see the life lessons I learned. I think people who haven’t read the book are afraid it's a “woe is me” type of book. The book is a celebration of life. When you read the book, you’ll see I really should be dead. I was given my Last Rights and my family was told a couple of times I wouldn’t make it through the day.

When you face your own mortality, you truly look at what's important in life. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have the secret to life. But, I sat in a hospital bed for months on end and thought about how I would live my life differently. In many ways I've been given a second chance at life. Most people don’t get this experience or the chance to look at how they really want to live and what's important.

What I want people to get out of the book is to look at their lives and see how they really want to live. What truly makes them happy? We only get so many years here on earth and none of us knows how many years that will be. I want to help people look at themselves and decide how they want to spend the rest of the days they have left. The latter part of the book is about what I feel is important in life. But, more importantly it's about how I came to those conclusions. I really hope I make people think about how they want to spend the rest of their days.

Q: Explain what you were diagnosed with and how it affected you?

A: I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. It’s a blood cancer. I had an inversion in one of my chromosomes that caused the leukemia. At first, I was just very tired for about a month. I thought I was just working too hard or something. So, I would spend a lot of time sleeping or resting. My fiancée, Michele, and I went on a cruise with Dave and Traci Tate. I spent most of the time in the cabin sleeping as I just felt terrible. When we got back, Michele made me go to the hospital. The doctors ran a million tests and I was diagnosed with leukemia on Father’s Day of 2009.

Once I started chemo therapy, the combination of chemo and leukemia caused multiple organ failures. The list of things that went wrong in my body was longer than the list of things that were going right. Things got so bad, I was in a coma and that’s when I got my Last Rights. When I awoke from the coma, I had lost 75 pounds and I couldn’t even move my hands. So, I had to start back at the beginning and learn to use my body again. Learning to walk again at 39 scared the living hell out of me. But, I got through it all with the strength of my family and friends.

Q: What was your biggest obstacle you had to face while having cancer? What other obstacles were there?

A: By far the biggest obstacle was staying positive. This is where my friends and family got me through cancer. They refused to let me give up. When you go through chemo, you have nothing but time on your hands. I was in so much pain I could barely sleep. So, all I could think about was dying. I was scared and struggled to find anything positive going on around me. Life is about choices and the choices we make as individuals. I had to choose whether I was going to do everything I could to live or roll over and die.

The other obstacles were what most people would probably expect. Pain was a big issue for me. I was in pain constantly. Bluntly, the entire chemo process is an obstacle. Every day presented its own new set of obstacles. I learned to live in the day or moment and take one obstacle at time. After I got through one, I moved on to the next. My choice was fight or die. I chose to fight.

Q: In "The Journey" section of the book, you included Michele's blogs she kept while you were diagnosed with cancer with your comments under them. Was it hard to go back through and write how you were feeling at the time? Were there any particular entries you'd just like to forget or didn't want to relive?

A: I don’t think I can come up with the words for how hard it was to read her blog. I didn’t read the blog until four months after I was pronounced in remission. I sat down one night and read the entire blog. I cried for four hours straight.

It was incredibly hard at first to write how I was feeling. But, it became therapeutic for me. I had to face my past and the best way to do it was to write about it. The best advice Dave gave me when I was writing the book was to write it as if no one was going to read it. When I was done, Dave had to convince me to release the book. I wrote down every personal thought I had. It scares me to open up my life like that. However, I'm now glad I did. I hope I'm able to help some other people.

It’s funny that you ask if there are any entries I’d like to forget or not relive. A friend of mine asked me the other day, "If you could go back in time would you change what had happened?" I told him knowing how it ends, I wouldn’t change one damn bit of it. I learned so much about myself and life that I never would have known had I not gone through that fight. I'll never be the same and I cannot change the past. I emerged a much stronger person who now truly wants to live life. I see way too many people going through the motions of life. Life is meant to be enjoyed.

Q: I thought the most interesting lesson you learned from having cancer was that "life isn't fair." I just expected a different one, a happier one. You know, like a lesson from the end of a Disney movie. How did you come to this conclusion?

A: Keep in mind I learned a lot of lessons. That was just one of them. I wish we all had the Disney life. I wish the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus existed too and so does my bank account. Things are sometimes all about how you look at them. Some people will look at “life isn’t fair” as being negative. I look at it as being truthful. There are times in life when things happen to you that are seemingly unjust or unfair. It's how you react in those times that will define you. So, the fact that life isn’t fair is just being honest. But, I do think when life is unfair it happens for a reason and brings out the best in us. Many times we will never know what that reason is, but we still have to deal with life being unfair.

I’ll use Dave Tate as an example. Dave has been very open about the health issues of his father and having a “special needs” child. As a side note, I hate labels like “special needs.” The only thing "special" about Dave’s son is he is a great kid. As I’m sure many of you can tell my family and Dave’s are very close. Our children get along so well it's almost unexplainable. Okay, back to Dave. Many people would say that life wasn’t being fair to Dave. The important thing is Dave met all of these challenges head on and is a better man and father for it.

Dave and I have many parallels in our lives. We were both dyslexic. Hell, I was held back in Kindergarten because I couldn’t read. Was that fair? Hell no. Did either of us let it hold us back from being successful? Hell no again. You see, in life good things happen and bad things happen. How you deal with those bad things will determine what type of person you truly are.

Q: Dave wrote a preface for your book. How did you meet?

A: We met at Westside Barbell in the summer of 1996. We didn’t like each other at first. But, over time we developed a friendship that I value more than most things in my life. We've been there through so much for each other. We don’t bullshit each other and we both tell it like it is. I think when you read the book, you’ll truly get an understanding of our friendship and how much I owe him. How many friends would help carry you to the bathroom because you were too sick to make the five foot walk? I know Dave would do anything in the world for me and he knows I'd do the same for him. I don’t know how else to explain it. When you read the preface he wrote, it will move you.

Alwyn Cosgrove also wrote a preface for the book. I had never met Alwyn and he helped save my life. He is a man of tremendous character and I am proud to call him my friend.

Q: How did both Michele and your family help you through your cancer ordeal?

A: The best way to explain it is I'd be dead without them. Michele may be the only person who got less sleep than I did during my treatment. She spent many nights trying to get a little sleep on a half sofa in my hospital room. She made all the medical decisions, as I was in no shape to make any decisions. She also handled all of the insurance issues and kept everyone up to speed on my condition with the blog. Going back to “life isn’t fair,” I saw Michele’s true strength and love when I felt life wasn’t being fair to us.

My family was beyond great. My mom is a two-time cancer Survivor. So, she knew this fight and knew it well. During my time in the hospital we also seemed to have aunts, uncles, my sister and friends coming down to help give my family their strength. My dad would come visit me every day. Yes, every day, as would my mom. I'm convinced it was through my family and friend’s strength that I am alive today. They never let those negative thoughts stay in the back of my head for too long. The power of positive thinking goes a long way. I can never repay all of these people for what they did for me.

Q: What was your life like before cancer? Powerlifting? Family life? Hobbies? Etc?

A: I spent from 1990 until 2006 being a powerlifter. It was a part of who I was. Then, my back got all messed up and I ended up having back surgery. So, that put an abrupt halt to my powerlifting career. My family life was good then. I'm blessed to have a great fiancée and a great son. I'm at my happiest when we're all together and doing fun stuff. My hobbies now are mostly shooting and doing stuff outside. I’ve always loved shooting and in a weird way it gives me the solitude to be alone and just clear my mind. Most of the people I spend time with now are outdoors kind of people. I’d much rather be out on a hike than stuck in the house watching TV. I’m very lucky in the fact that my son loves being outside wandering around the woods or a canal. He even has his own utility belt and Camelbak.

Q: How is your life is different now?

A: There is a saying among cancer Survivors. “There are only two kinds of days. Good days and great days.” I wake up every day next to someone I love. I have a son who is the best thing to ever happen in my life. I'm working on starting life over again at 40. But, I'm at peace with that and excited about it. I am trying to take some classes to get my Six Sigma Black Belt in Management. I suppose you could say I'm starting on my second life. I still have the same views I had before cancer, but I have a much better idea of what's important in life and what I want out of life. I wake up every day excited to see what the new day will bring me.

It took me a long time to come to peace with having been through leukemia. Now that I've dealt with the emotional overload that comes with it, I'm just excited about life now. I am formulating a plan to have the future I want and I'm enjoying the journey of getting there. Sure, there are some bumps in the road, but we all have those. Right now I’m just enjoying being healthy and happy. It feels good and life is good.

Q: Any other thoughts you want to add about your book?

A: Yes, I hope everyone who reads the book is able to take a better look at what is really important to them. The book will show you what it's like to go through chemo therapy and fight for your life. Hopefully, it will also make you think about what it is you want out of life and what's important to you. The feedback I received has been tremendous. I think some people are nervous to buy it, as it's probably out of their comfort zone. Sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zone to be able to see who we really want to be.

Get Bob's book here.

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