Editorial Note: The following entry was imported from a project website and was not written by director James Kicklighter. It is attributed to its original author in the heading. The original writing has not been modified from the author's words.James Kicklighter
My dad inspired me to make my first video blog.
Last January, Dad was a member of the Effingham County School Board. The world (well, Effingham County and parts of Statesboro, Georgia) thought I was dying! When I was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma, he announced that he was resigning to spend more time with me. They published his story in the Effingham Herald, our local newspaper, under the title "Mock Resigns to Help Son Battle Stage Four Cancer."
The world (well, Effingham County and parts of Statesboro, Georgia) thought I was dying!
I was in the hospital when the paper was published. I had become bored in between rounds of chemo and "Clash of Clans" and checked Facebook to pass the time. Wow!
A few friends and acquaintances wrote tear-jerking letters about me and people who I had never met made comments about my impending death. My little corner of the internet seemed broken.
So, being the engineer that I am, I had to fix it.
I grabbed my laptop, and I made my first blog. The goal was to tell my Facebook audience a few things, so I called it "A Few Things About Cancer."
The blog, and by extension this documentary, was created to tell the world that cancer isn't always a death sentence. For me, it was always just a set-back.
A year before I was diagnosed, my mom used her stubborn will and a rock-solid faith in God to win a battle with colon cancer. Her experience prepped her to help me deal with my own fight. When I was diagnosed with Lymphoma, she didn't cry. Why would she? It was only a set-back.
She knew without an ounce of doubt that I was going to be okay.
I remember sitting at Firehouse Subs in Statesboro. We were using the week between my diagnosis and my first treatment to relax and enjoy family. My mom helped prepare my mind for the war to come. “The next few months won't be fun," she said. “But you will make it.”
Mom was right, having cancer wasn't fun. I was bored and my energy level was extremely low. I had to spend over 30 days in the hospital, which is a really boring place for an impatient man like me. The chemotherapy drugs had a side effect of covering mouth in sores, making eating and talking extremely difficult (my favorite things to do). On top of that, all of my hair fell out and I couldn't get my nose to stop running.
But all of that pain and inconvenience was temporary. And I knew it.
Have you ever read "Man's Search for Meaning?"
“Man’s Search for Meaning” is a book by Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist who spent 3 years in Auschwitz. During his time in the Nazi prison, he observed that the way his fellow prisoners viewed the future greatly affected their chance of survival. If they lost hope about the future, they were doomed. He came to the conclusion that the most important motivating force in a person’s life is his/her search for meaning. My meaning comes from the belief that God wants me to use my resources to do great things.
I know, it sounds weird. But there is a voice in the back of my head asking, “have you accomplished anything great today?”
During the weeks leading up to my diagnosis, I had spent a lot of time worrying about the lack of greatness in my life. I spent countless nights attempting to escape from the realities of my normal life. That voice in the back of my head kept telling me, “All you do is work and come home to watch TV, you’re being normal.” This was about the time that I began striving to escape the 9-to-5 grind. I started three online businesses, each one less successful than the previous one. I stayed awake every night scheming of ways to escape reality and be awesome.
And then I found out that I had cancer.
Suddenly, I realized that life is shorter than I ever thought. Worse still, I had spent all of my time thinking about doing great things, and very little time actually doing great things. So when James Kicklighter offered to help me share my story, I jumped at it. His team turned my set-back into something truly great.
So thank you James and team for making this film. Thank you to my wonderful wife, parents, family, and friends for putting up with me. And thank you viewers for taking the time to watch this.
I hope that you enjoy it wayyyy more than I enjoyed making it.
- Caleb Mock