Wade’s Words

“When people believe in you, you can do amazing things in this world.”  –Dwyane Wade

I used to be such an avid basketball fan that – at the tender age of two – my love for Julius “Dr. J” Erving earned me the nickname “Doc” bestowed upon me by my brother, John. Or, as I’ve also heard, the moniker was the result of my being so smart at a young age that I could have been a doctor! Being the youngest of eleven (six brothers, four sisters), from a family with Bostonian North End roots, it was inevitable that I’d be bit by the sports bug.

It seemed basketball was in our blood, especially when it came to the Boston Celtics. Larry Bird was so revered in our house that my brother John named his cocatiel “Larry Bird!” When Larry “Legend” Bird – arguably the greatest NBA player of all time – retired in 1992, the sport was never the same. I boycotted basketball. My heart wasn’t in the game anymore.

I’m a native of South Florida. It’s always exciting to see your city’s team come out on top. Miami is as close as I’m going to get to my hometown of Hollywood. So, out of boredom and curiosity, I tuned into the second half of Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals. The Heat needed to win. They were down by double digits with just 30 seconds remaining in regulation play. A win seemed impossible. Then, magic started to happen! The shoeless shot by Mike Miller. The three pointer by Ray Allen that kept the Heat’s hope for a repeat title alive.

The dramatic overtime ending reminiscent of a Celtics-Lakers rivalry. I’d just watched of the greatest games – and comebacks – in NBA history! The Miami Heat went on to win back-to-back championships in dramatic fashion, defeating the San Antonio Spurs in seven games. WOW!

I watched the 2013 NBA Championship parade paying particular attention to player interviews. Dwyane Wade talked about how having a great support system – family and teammates who believe in him – helped him overcome injuries during the playoffs. And, that’s when it hit me: even three time NBA champions need people who believe in them. We all do. It’s because the Heat players believed in themselves – and each other – that they were able to pull off such a miraculous upset. They didn’t count themselves out even when the outcome looked bleak. A basketball game is not over until the final buzzer blares.

The same is true in life. Be a champion!  Stay in the game, (play your game and no one else’s) don’t count yourself out, and remember Wade’s wise words. Surround yourself with people who believe in you. You will be amazed at what you can do!

Life will surprise you. And, so will your friends – or people you thought were your friends. I have cerebral palsy, and prior to having selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery, I set up a fundraiser to raise money for the operation. The outpouring of love and support truly amazed me. What amazed me even more was that the majority of people who donated to my fundraiser have never even met me!

On the contrary, I’ve received hurtful e-mails from friends I’ve known for years, saying it’s not appropriate to ask people to help pay for my medical bills. Their words were condescending and insensitive. I was shocked by their lack of support. It should not be unreasonable to expect long-time friends to call after having major spinal surgery. I am thankful for friends who visited me during my recovery.

D-Wade’s words got me thinking about my people – doctors, family, friends, my physical therapist and a wonderful on-line community – all of whom donated to my fundraiser and/or supported me on my SDR journey.

THANK YOU for your donations (frequent flyer miles, money, etc.), love, support (making phone calls, writing e-mails/letters on my behalf, selling copies of my book, etc.) – and most importantly – for believing in me. THANK YOU for believing that I deserved to go to the best SDR neurosurgeon, Dr. T.S. Park, and encouraging me not settle for less! It’s made all the difference in my world!

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