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Declined

Man praying for the phone to ringOne phone call with a woman on the other end saying I was “declined” for coverage really had my head spinning.  A little over a month ago I applied for more life insurance, (the kind with the rider that allows you to get an advance on your death benefit to pay for a chronic illness) and I was shockingly flat out declined for coverage.  As a licensed agent for almost thirty years, I have rarely ever experienced a “decline” from an insurance company.  People that get “declined” for life insurance generally are not expected to live a very long life.

Then, the news got worse, it wasn’t a mistake.  I was declined due to a high PSA blood test result.  I quickly researched everything I could find about what the PSA test was all about and found out that it was related to prostate cancer.  A test result level over 4.0 is thought to be a potential sign of cancer and my reading was 7.2.  To make matters worse, my test result from 18 months prior was 3.7 so there had been quite a spike.  It was the spike that scared me the most as my research told me that the spike could be a good predictor of prostate cancer.  My father died of cancer and I have always been very afraid of that word and of course, any form of the disease.

What an awakening I got this past month. I’ve talked to so many people (mostly 15-25 years older than me) that have had cancer or a parent that had it.  There are many prostate cancer survivors out there and it is quite common for men to get it later in life.  It was a challenge for me to not know for sure if I had cancer or not.  I didn’t tell anybody (not even my wife, Soni) for the first couple weeks while I was scheduling doctor appointments.  I felt better keeping it to myself, until one day, we were arguing about some trivial issue and I blurted out, “you know, I’ve got something bigger on my mind right now!”

Many of us take our health for granted. I eat very well, exercise a ton, and think I’m going to live forever.  What a reality check.  Is it too late for me to get started on my bucket list?  Will I ever go to Augusta National and see the Master’s?

When my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer, his quality of life diminished very quickly and he ended up dying at age 58 without getting to do many of the things he may have wanted to later in life.  As a financial advisor, my dad’s quick, relatively young passing greatly impacted me.  It was a great reminder to live a balanced life, enjoying today and planning for tomorrow knowing that tomorrow is not always guaranteed.

I have to tell you I’ve been wondering if I would be around long enough to see my kids finish school, get married or meet my grandkids (my dad never met my kids).  It sure made me want to spend much more time with my kids, (much to the chagrin of my three teenagers that need their space away from their parents).

Fear is a great motivator.  The fear of dying is one that is not given much thought until you get bad news from the doctor.  I recommend not waiting for bad news to take action.  Start creating, or maybe even doing some of the things on your Bucket List.  I went out last weekend and created the best Father’s Day memory I could for my kids by taking them to a three day country music festival in Chicago called “Lake Shake”.  I’ve always wanted to go to one of these and my daughters especially had an amazing time.  Country music fest, checked off the list.  I also just bought some Cubs tickets and will be bringing the family and friends to a few games this year.  I plan to spend some more time figuring out what else is on my list and checking them off one by one.

What happened next:

I went and saw a new general practitioner, who referred me to an Urologist.  The Urologist looked at the results of my PSA tests and told me a biopsy should be done. They pulled 12 core samples from by prostate last week looking for cancer cells.  So, for the past several days I’ve been on the edge of my seat waiting for the results that were supposed to be in by Thursday. The doctor called me today and gave me the greatest news. The results were negative, and I do not have prostate cancer. What a relief!

I got the beneficial experience of being scared to death that I was really sick as the ultimate reminder to appreciate my being alive and healthy!

I will use this everyday and I hope you do as well. Every day is a gift!

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