In 2004 I met the woman of my dreams, my soulmate, Rebecca. We were raised in two very different environments. I grew up in Northern New Jersey; my father was a Financial Advisor, my mother was an ESL teacher. Rebecca grew up in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Her father was a highway construction worker, her mother worked as an aid at a school for children. My family was Jewish, hers was Catholic. Two very different upbringings, but on our first date I knew I met the person I was meant to be with.
Rebecca was never given any handouts. Her drive, ambition and independence were infectious. She worked at a young age; she went to Temple University and worked her entire time there to pay for college on her own. It was very different from my upper middle class upbringing. We got married in 2006, it was one of the greatest days of my life. In 2007, our first child Luke was born; in 2009 Jake was born. Rebecca was pregnant with our 3rd child in 2010 when her father Larry was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Larry needed to get a Whipple Procedure, and then take on chemotherapy and radiation. Rebecca would drive him back and forth the University of Pennsylvania Hospital everyday, pregnant, and with two kids under 4. When family needed her, she never bitched, never moaned, just stepped up and did what needed to be done. In an awful situation, it was an honor and inspirational to see what real strength and love can do during difficult times.
Larry was fighting like a true Warrior, and Rebecca was by his side the entire time. In February of 2013, Larry was 2.5 years into his journey with pancreatic cancer. That month I got into a car accident and started to experience massive headaches. The headaches became so severe over 2 weeks, I lost all ability to sleep. I speak professionally, and started to have what I perceived as strokes; in the middle of speaking I’d have slur and gurgle pour out of my mouth, and I would lose all perspective on where I was and what was going on. It would last 5/6 seconds, but it would feel like an eternity. May 14, 2013, I experienced my 11th “Stroke.” I went directly to the hospital, and met Rebecca there. That day I was diagnosed at 39 with a brain tumor. Rebecca’s husband had brain cancer, her father had pancreatic cancer, and we had 3 children under 5. Life changed instantly.
She was by my side the entire time, she took care of the kids, she was there for her father. She did what she needed for those she loved. I saw what strength and support really are; what it really provides. I always knew I was the lucky to have found her, and this did nothing but validate the obvious to me. I wrote a book called ,”Starting at the Finish Line,” my memoir on my story. It became a best seller, and allowed me to speak all over the world sharing my story, perspective, and appreciation of living in the now. I can honestly say I didn’t write it about me. I wrote it about how amazing Rebecca is and how lucky I am to have her.
In March 2020, we took on the pandemic. Lives changed instantly. Our children were in 6th grade, 5th grade and 3rd grade. All my speaking was changing to virtual, and Rebecca had all of us in the house at all times. It was a new normal that no one could prepare for. This was my chance to give back for all the love and support she gave me when I needed her the most. I got so entrenched in writing, speaking, and working in my businesses that the person who strengthened my resilience at the deepest and darkest of times needed support, and I didn’t do what I should have; which is be there for her more then I did. It’s not about my job, our company; it was about her and alleviating the angst and anxiety that this new normal was putting on her shoulders; she never asked for this. I never asked for cancer, and she was there for me every step of the way. All the support she provides for family, business, and everything else, I will be the one helping her more than before. Thats what we do, we support loved ones when they need it the most; I should have been more cognizant, and I am so sorry for not being better then I was. Its about family, love, and everything else comes behind it. I will use this as a lesson I will never give back! Rebecca was always there for me, I am beyond thankful. She taught me my job is to be there for her when things are bad, and that time is now.