You may not recognize the name Perry Elliott aka Scott Perry, but, I have no doubt you would recognize his deep, polished, dramatic at times and sometimes whispy voice that has promoted Steve Harvey, NBC’s hit America’s Got Talent, the Oscars, sports broadcasts, big screen movies, and other television shows. It is that distinctive sound that has earned him his nickname, That Voice Guy.
But behind that voice is a beautiful human being who sees and appreciates life, in its darkness and its light. Perry embraces the lessons his journey continues to teach. He stops to smell the flowers and doesn’t take any moments for granted.
His mom, his best friend, died in his arms in 2001 after a short battle with cancer, but not before imparting her wisdom upon her children. Her final days were spent surrounded by friends and family. She and Perry shared some pretty important conversations.
“Periodically during our evening talks ,Mom would comment on what a nice voice I had,” he shared. “After about the 4th time of her telling me this, I asked her what she meant by saying this to me. She got that smile on her face, and explained that when she passed away, if she made it to heaven what a wonderful thing it would be to still hear her only son and perhaps if I were in radio or television, maybe some of the broadcasting waves would reach her, thus she could still hear me. At that point, I promised her I would see what I could and try my best.”
It was about 30 days after burying her that Perry found himself enrolled in the Ohio Center for Broadcasting and graduated nine months later at the top of his class earning the ‘Gary Burbank Award’ for his achievements. His first radio gig was as a news anchor for 700 WLW. I am pretty sure that is where our paths first crossed.
Perry recently shared this reflection from his mom, and it is so moving. I asked him if I could share it.
I distinctly remember waking from the surgery to remove my cancerous right eye and asking Mom: ‘What am I gonna do until my prosthetic eye is made, people are gonna look at me like I’m a freak with an eye patch’…
Mom: ‘Honey, you’re still a handsome man with a huge heart and you always will be, and you’re imperfect, but I’m imperfect, and every single person in this world has imperfections. And when anyone looks at another and sees them as imperfect or less than attractive, that… is a reflection upon them and it shows their true colors and limitations… and not yours.’
The point of the above conversation with my Mom when she was living is:
No matter what has set you back, a stroke, loss of a limb, any type of injury, disease, or abuse you’ve had to suffer. You do NOT have to be perfect to be recognized, nor to be considered beautiful, or loved.
Because being perfectly imperfect is more than good enough for those who love and adore you and me for who and what we are… And those people who love you and me through all of our imperfections, well… quite simply put, they’re keepers.
To Perry, your mom was one very smart and very beautiful woman. I would have loved to have met her. I see so much of her in your perspective of life. That is an incredible legacy. There is absolutely no doubt that your mom is listening to you right now and smiling.
I have known Tami Boehmer for many years, long before a diagnosis changed her life and her family’s forever. She is someone who I admire so much for her fighting, uplifting spirit and her appreciation for everything that matters. Tami has used her circumstance and her skills to encourage and inspire others – those who are also living with cancer, those who love someone with cancer, and really everyone. Tami recently published her second book. Thank you to her for sharing this post.
by Tami Boehmer (Award winning author, blogger, and speaker)
It has been seven years since I learned I had metastatic (stage IV) breast cancer. It was my worst nightmares come true. I had just celebrated five cancer-free years after being diagnosed with stage II breast cancer. My daughter had just turned nine years old. My first thought was, “Will I be around to raise her?”
According to statistics and a couple of doctors I spoke with, it was highly unlikely. One told me I would “most certainly die of breast cancer.” No doubt about it. I responded, “I’m too stubborn to die”, then left determined to prove her wrong.
I recently read a quote on a metastatic breast cancer Facebook page: “Faith sees the invisible, believes in the incredible, and receives the impossible.” — Anonymous. My faith was shaky when I was first diagnosed, but there was a spark there waiting to be ignited.
I had spent my career in health care public relations, where I wrote success stories about patients who beat the odds of illnesses. I took a permanent leave of absence after being diagnosed this second time, but started feeling empty and depressed. I decided to use my experience and share stories of people who had beaten the odds of stage IV cancer.
When I started interviewing individuals for my first book, From Incurable to Incredible, I had only seven months under my belt as a stage IV breast cancer survivor. My primary goal was to inspire hope and show that it was possible to beat the odds of a terminal or incurable prognosis. Not just for my readers; but for me, as well.
In Nov. 2014, my second book, Miracle Survivors: Beating the Odds of Incurable Cancer, was released by Skyhorse Publishing. I share my story, along with 23 other cancer survivors from around the country. With many years under my belt as a survivor, I got to know more people who are thriving years beyond what anyone expected and have learned many lessons from my own “school of hard knocks.” The book reflects my new perspective, as well as those of others like Carole Kubrin, who has been living with stage IV, HER2-positive breast cancer since 1998, and Greg Cantwell, a stage IV glioblastoma multiforme (the most aggressive form of brain cancer) survivor since 2004.
The book also includes an introduction by best-selling author Bernie Siegel, MD, and forewords by miracle survivors ePatient Dave deBronkart (a stage IV renal cancer survivor since 2007), the best-known spokesman for the patient engagement movement, and award-winning blues vocalist Curtis Salgado (diagnosed with stage IV renal cancer in 2007), who was the inspiration for the movie, The Blues Brothers.
While I call the individuals in this book, “miracle survivors,” overcoming the odds wasn’t something that just happened to them. Each person took a very active role in overcoming their challenges by becoming advocates for themselves and others and never giving up.
There are no winners or losers or the right or wrong way to deal with cancer and other major life challenges. But I know from experience and from talking with hundreds of people living with cancer that how we live our life is a choice. As the recently departed ESPN commentator Stuart Scott said, “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live.” That’s what my work is all about.
Tami Boehmer is an award-winning author and blogger and speaker. Her second book, Miracle Survivors is available in hardback and e-book versions through Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, Target.com, Skyhorse Publishing’s website and via Tami’s website, www.miraclesurvivors.com. An audio version is also available on Audible.com.
I want to thank Cameron Von St. James for sharing his family’s story of courage and fortitude in battling cancer.
My wife, Heather has said many times that it is hard for her to imagine what I went through as her caregiver after she was diagnosed with mesothelioma. We have not talked extensively about the experience, but I hope by writing my story, I am able to share more with her and anyone else currently struggling through a tough fight with cancer.
It was three months after the birth of our only child that we got the news. Mesothelioma was a term that brought fear and uncertainty into our lives during a time where we had only been feeling joy and excitement about the future of our new little family. When the doctor informed us that my wife had cancer, I felt overwhelmed, but the immediate need to make critical life decisions forced me to focus.
My first thoughts after hearing the diagnosis were full of rage and anger. I was immediately angry at the world for putting my family in this cruel and unfair situation. I didn’t know how to harness the feelings. There were times when my communication with others was laced with profanity and anger. Eventually, I learned to control the fear that was overwhelming me. I knew that my wife and daughter needed me to be strong. I did not want them to sense my fear, as real as it was. My wife relied on me to be her rock of stability and optimism, and in time I was able to become that.
After the diagnosis, my workload included a long to-do list that ranged from work requirements to travel arrangements to taking care of my wife, my daughter, our home, the list seemed endless. I taught myself how to prioritize, so my focus was on the vital tasks. We were blessed with a strong support system. Many people offered help that I quickly learned to accept. Even with friends and family pitching in, I still was overwhelmed by the responsibilities, but managed to keep up with them as best I could.
Directly following her extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery in Boston, Heather was flown to South Dakota to stay with her parents and Lily, who had been staying there during the operation. Heather needed constant care as she recovered from her surgery and prepared for the next phase of her treatment, and I would not have been able to give her the care she needed while working full time to support us. Therefore, we made the difficult decision to be apart for those two months while she recovered. During this two-month period, I only saw Heather and Lily once.
On one Friday after my workweek ended, I drove 11 hours through a snowstorm to spend time with my family. I arrived Saturday morning, so I had the weekend to rest and see them. Sunday afternoon I was back in the car for the 11-hour trip home. It was hard to be away from them, but it was the choice that made the most sense. I don’t have regrets about this decision. It was just one of many difficult choices I made, but I was glad were had options available.
If I learned anything from this difficult time, it was to accept offers of help from other people who cared. I also learned to never regret or second guess the tough decisions that cancer forced us to make. I could take comfort in the fact that we were able to make choices even if they were hard ones. Being able to plan put us in control in an uncertain time. Despite an overwhelming set of odds, Heather made a full recovery. Six years after the initial diagnosis, she is still healthy. I hope that our story of triumph and struggle will help others battling cancer.
I remember Chris Spielman from my days at The Ohio State University, and I knew he was a force of character back then. But I never fully realized what a tremendous person he is until I learned of Chris Speilman, the husband. On the football field he has faced many tough guys but he has never had an opponent like the one he and his wife fought, which would be cancer.
Now Chris has written a book called ‘That’s Why I’m Here’ and it sounds beautiful. His message – If you have challenges, be aware. Be men and woman of courage and strength. Let your faith be your rock. He was on our FOX19 this morning and below is his interview. I can’t wait to read his book.