Unexpected Opportunity to be Thankful
“You have a large cancerous tumour in your left eye and the only treatment is to remove your eye.”
I had just been subjected to tests on my left eye and the doctor was giving us his diagnosis. I was stunned and all I could say was, “I think I’m going to barf.” I sat there with the garbage can in my lap as Erna took over the conversation.
The drive home was a blur as I lay in the passenger seat totally shocked. We couldn’t talk–both lost in our own thoughts of impending doom.
A second opinion a few days later confirmed the diagnosis of choroidal melanoma, a tumor at the back of my eye that had to be treated by enucleation, i.e. removal of the eye.
However, we learned that there was another option; radiation, which could not be done in Winnipeg. Within 2 weeks of that black Monday we were in Philadelphia for radiation. The radiation did its work as it slowly fried the tumor. My eye was saved but I lost my vision because, as expected, the procedure damaged my optic nerve.
Before I was discharged from the hospital we had a session with a counsellor. I was again my usual jocular self, but she pulled me up short with the words:
“This is not about your eye; this is about your life. You have melanoma and it can easily metastasize to your brain, your lungs or your liver. You have to de-stress.”
Theodore Roosevelt in a speech in Cambridge, England in 1910 said,
“Of course a man has to take the advantage of opportunities but the opportunities have to come. If there is not the war, you don’t get the great general; if there is not the great occasion, you don’t get the great statesman; if Lincoln had lived in times of peace, no one would know his name now.”
My life has been filled with opportunities. This was the most challenging one of all.
Frankly, I did not initially see this as an opportunity at all but as time went on and particularly now that I have the privilege to look back, it was a great opportunity and it still is.
TRANSPARENCY WITH EMPLOYEES
I had always believed a leader should be transparent and keep employees informed. If I were to share my condition it would require going to a whole different level of transparency with our staff. I was cautioned by some of our people to wait until I really knew what was happening.
But Erna and I both knew how serious my cancer was. We also knew if we didn’t share with our people the rumours would be worse than the truth.
At that time we had more than 1000 employees and before we went to Philadelphia for treatment I shared my story. I said to them, “I know that many of you pray and I ask you to pray for me in this time of need.”
Because of my candor people did not avoid me; in fact they kept telling me that they were praying and that members of their extended families were praying as well. What a blessing it was for us and still is. The support was overwhelming; To this day people still ask me how my eye is doing.
Since my diagnosis I have had many meaningful encounters with others who had cancer. One of them was already in the advanced stages of this terrible disease. He contacted me after he heard about my cancer. Interestingly I had tried to touch base with him before I knew about my cancer to encourage and pray with him. He had not responded, but now he came to MY rescue.
Another one asked me, “Herb, how did you feel when you found out that you had cancer?” That began a deep time of sharing.
A third one was diagnosed with melanoma in his eye as well. This was highly unusual because cancer of the eye only affects 6 people out of one million. We were able to talk at a very comfortable level about similar treatments and how we were doing.
Four of my cancer buddies have already died and all were younger than I. By the grace of God I was able to help them along in their spiritual pilgrimage. I am confident that I will meet all of them on the good side of the other side some day in the future.
Furthermore I have a special bond with anyone who has or has had cancer. We are a special group.
What a tremendous opportunity my cancer has given me and I am so grateful that I did see this as an opportunity to help others. The proverb:
“He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed”, is certainly true for me.
Five years ago I was a 42% survivor with my type of cancer. Today Erna and I are celebrating 10 years of being cancer free. I continue to be tested every three months and my results continue to be very good. Praise God.
If you would change the picture of your life, you can. Like Herb, you can decide to follow Jesus Christ and apply Biblical principles to your life and business. You can start today by praying this prayer with a sincere heart.
Lord Jesus, I want to know You personally.Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins.I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of my life.Make me be the person You want me to be. Amen.
Is it the desire of your heart to make this prayer yours?
If yes, pray now and according to his promise, Jesus Christ will come into your life.
Another Article by Herb Buller : Seizing Opportunities and Becoming a Work of Art – Herb shares his business history and views on making money.
Herb Buller – Herb grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree and Certificate in Education at the University of Manitoba. He taught at River East Collegiate for two years before embarking full time in his business career. Herb and his partner expanded their business into a concrete manufacturer of sidewalk and patio blocks, precast residential stairs, and various architectural items. The business operated successfully under the name of Midland Concrete Products until the late 1980s when it was sold to Barkman Concrete Products. In 1971, together with six partners, Herb established Kitchen Craft in Canada, which grew into sales of over $100 million in 1999 when it was sold to investors. In 2004 with his four sons, Herb acquired Norcraft Companies with five manufacturing plants in the US and one in Winnipeg. The company employed more than 1,500 employees and 200 of those in Canada. In 2015, the Buller Family sold its interest in Norcraft to Fortune Brands Home & Security Inc. of Chicago. The Herb and Erna Buller Foundation is active in charitable activities around the world with an emphasis in education, healthcare, orphanages and Christian camping.
CME Gala 2012 – Hall of Fame Award – Herb Buller, Kitchen Craft