Staying Focused Even When Life Gets Hard

Staying Focused Even When Life Gets Hard

As I reflect on the past few years, I have a lot to be thankful for. It has been a roller-coaster ride for me, with some great highs and devastating lows. Although those times were challenging, I never lost faith or focus. As I faced some very challenging circumstances, I learned these experiences build strength and resilience, and help to equip you to handle whatever life throws your way.

Here’s where my story begins. It was February 2020, I started to hear more about something called COVID-19 or Coronavirus. As a business owner, I was concerned but kept up a rigorous schedule, juggling many duties at my security agency business, overseeing contracts all over the country.

However, in just one month, the world literally came to a standstill. I began receiving panicked calls from clients seeking refunds on deposits made, because the world had suddenly shut down. Everyone was impacted by the pandemic, regardless of age, nationality, or even country.

It was a tough time for businesses, and I was no exception. As fear of the pandemic spread by the end of March many of my contracts had stopped. However, the tide slowly changed as security professionals became an essential part of the workforce. The pandemic created an opportunity for me, I was able to focus on writing and created Leumas Publishing, LLC, which was responsible for my first book, that also proved to be a new source of income.

The pandemic helped me to realize that I needed to become committed to my health. This included purchasing supplemental health insurance and getting a full health check-up. I had no idea of the significance of these decisions.

To my surprise after going to the doctor I learned there was a spot on my liver. And after further testing discovered a cancerous mass was also found in my stomach and surgery was needed immediately.

In October 2020, surgery was scheduled, and the mass was removed. I will never forget those words, “You have stage IV colorectal cancer” my doctor said. The cancer had metastasized to my liver. My heart sank and I cried like a baby, the big and strong bodyguard who had protected presidential candidates and A-list celebrities had met his match...cancer.

As the news hit me, my first thought was, "I’m going to die!" After telling my wife the news, I fell into her arms and we prayed like never before, and I started the fight of my life. The supplemental insurance policy I purchased four months prior had a rider for cancer. I was 100% covered for my diagnosis, this was welcoming news, as it added peace of mind. I could use all my energy to fight cancer and reclaim my health without worrying about how I was going to pay for the care that I desperately needed. In doing so, I had to make some critical decisions, and one was relocating to New York with my family during the pandemic so I could seek the treatment I needed to get well.

After making the move to New York I started my rigorous treatment plan with my doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital. This included rounds of chemotherapy and another surgery where part of my liver that was cancerous was redacted, and a liver pump was implanted into my stomach.

While all of this was happening, I shifted back into work mode and managed with the support of my team to finish my book, Rent A- Cop-Reboot. I redirected my attention to my business and the steps I needed to take to protect my assets in the event I was no longer present to run my company. With my team in place, I was ready to relinquish control to my wife and to my trusted employees to keep the business afloat in my absence.

It was a tough time being away from my extended family and business, but I leaned on my faith and prayed. I knew that I wasn’t going to give up, that I needed to keep pushing forward and to fight. As the seasons came and went, the smell of spring was in the air, with flowers in full bloom, I knew a new beginning was on the horizon.

In May of 2021, I received the news I had been praying for: the cancer was gone, and I was in remission. I could return to my family back in Virginia. This cancer-free diagnosis felt like a new beginning, it was priceless.

When I think back on my experience, I can only feel grateful for my wonderful wife and daughter and my family and friends for their constant encouragement, support, and barrage of prayers. But most importantly, my faith, the guiding light that didn't let me quit, but motivated me to stay the course and fight harder.

Being in remission from Stage IV cancer taught me that God is real, and that I'm stronger than I ever realized. It's a miracle that I'm alive. When you don't succumb to your fears and give up, the power of the human will is enough to achieve the impossible.

As a business owner, you must always be prepared for the unexpected, as sickness and disease can happen to anyone. It’s important to:

  • Always have a contingency plan in place.
  • Make sure you have people who can help keep the company moving forward in your absence.
  • Utilize resources such as PPP loans, SBA loans, and other financial vehicles when they are available to you.

As a result of using these financial programs my business was able to survive the pandemic. Having this experience has taught me to slow down, pay attention to your health, and stay focused on business matters. Protecting your business is just as important as protecting your health. I was fortunate and was able to bounce back stronger and wiser, and my business continues to thrive two years later. Everyone doesn’t live to share their story, but I did.

My goal is to encourage and inspire those who may find themselves in situations that may seem hopeless to keep moving forward and to never lose hope in their faith or themselves.