004 Do It Now Before It's Too Late
Updated: May 2
A Raw and Unfiltered Conversation With Husband, Father, Chef, and Cancer Warrior, Patrick Ayres
Everything’s fine--until it isn’t. And then it’s too late to go back.
That’s the terrible truth that my guest on this episode is confronting as he stares death in the face.
In this raw, unfiltered conversation, you get to walk a mile in my guest’s shoes and see life through his eyes as he confronts his own Mortality. You'll learn how he wishes he'd spent his time differently in the past and what matters more to him now than it once did. His actual encounter with Mortality will motivate you to do “it” now--whatever important thing or relationship “it” represents--before it’s too late.
Patrick Ayres, Cancer Warrior
My guest on this episode is Patrick Ayres--husband, father, and chef extraordinaire. Patrick's a member of my extended family on my wife's side--a brother-in-law once removed, or something like that, if that's a thing. And he's in the fight of his life FOR his life--a warrior battling incurable brain cancer.
When we recorded this interview in mid-February, Patrick wasn't feeling great. He was in the toughest phase of that month's chemo regimen, experiencing intense fatigue, missing a chunk of his brain the size of an orange. You can hear his weariness--physically and emotionally. That Patrick was still up for doing the interview tells you something about the kind of guy that he is.
Yep, This Is Heavy Stuff. Do Yourself a Favor and Listen Anyway.
If you're tempted to skip this episode because it might be too heavy, remember this: Our Mortality is the most powerful source of motivation in life, and by failing to confront it, we do ourselves more harm than good. Do yourself and everyone you love a favor by courageously embracing your own Mortality through Patrick's story so that you are emboldened to make the very most of TODAY.
In early 2019, Patrick began to have dizzy spells. Vertigo was the best word he could find to describe what the spells felt like. When he finally went to the doctor in the early fall of last year, though, he had a gut feeling that something more serious was going on. After the usual agonizing wait for scan and test results, he got the devastating news that he had incurable brain cancer. Tune in to the episode to hear Patrick’s account of surgery to remove the tumor and an orange-sized chunk of his brain, recovery, follow-up treatment, and absorbing the shock of his new situation.
When he got the diagnosis, Patrick dropped a “mortality bomb” in the laps of his fellow Graveyard Group members by sending a text with the scan showing his tumor and a brief note confirming it was cancer.
The Graveyard Group is a weekly mastermind that I formed in February 2019 to cultivate the consistent practice of remembering our Mortality so we can become the people we were made to be and live the lives we were made to live. This podcast is a production of The Graveyard Group--a way to invite a larger audience to embrace this powerful practice around Mortality. New Graveyard Groups are forming, and I’d love for you to be in one! Go here to learn more and about how to join.
And just like that, it got really real for all of us in Patrick’s Graveyard Group. It wasn’t just a powerful mental exercise any more; we suddenly had a friend in the grips of a mortal battle.
The Pain of Regret
The most dominant theme in this conversation--and at this early stage in Patrick’s cancer battle--was regret. Regret for time frittered away pre-cancer. Regret that the tireless work and long hours spent building his culinary career were potentially for naught--and some of that time could have been better spent with his wife and daughters. The intensity of this regret comes out often through tears in this conversation. Tune in to hear more about Patrick’s perspective on how he spent his time pre-cancer.
No Pretty Bow
I'd like to be able to put a nice pretty bow around the interview. But if I'm going to stay true to the spirit of Patrick's story and honor his battle, then I can't do that. His story tells us that there is no bow. Being in a life-and-death battle with cancer is simply hard. Looking Death in the face is hard. Patrick has regrets. And he hasn't yet uncovered any philosophical nuggets of gold to offer us in his confrontation with Mortality.
So what do we do with Patrick's story? It will hit us all a little differently, I'm sure, and that's good. But there is at least this one universal takeaway: It could just as easily be me, or you, or your husband, wife, son, daughter, mom, or dad. One day, it WILL be us--if not facing cancer, nonetheless facing the end of our earthly existence for one reason or another. Let's wake up today and embrace the gift of LIFE with gratitude and gusto and courage--saying to Death, "I see you, I know you're coming, but until then I've got a lot of living to do."
You ARE going to die, but you're not dead yet. So get after it!
If you got a life-threatening diagnosis today, how satisfied would you be on a scale of 0-10 with the life you’ve lived so far, and why? Share your score here.
If today's episode has been helpful to you, I hope you'll subscribe to Andrew Petty is Dying wherever you like to listen to podcasts, and leave your honest review. Go here to learn more about The Graveyard Group, the life-changing mastermind that I mention during the interview.