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10 years later: What I learned from my 3 year old’s life threatening brain tumor

Ten years ago, our three-year-old son, Mason was diagnosed with a large cerebellar brain tumor which lead to 2 emergency brain surgeries that saved his life. It seems like a lifetime ago, and now, three weeks from his 14th birthday, I think back upon that incredibly tough time and I am grateful for the successful outcome. We all deal with adversity in life but it’s what we take from it that ultimately makes us wiser and stronger. I’d like to share with you, the Top 6 lessons I learned from this experience:

10 years later: What I learned from my 3 year old’s life threatening brain tumor

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff – We hear this all too often but many of us have trouble putting it into practice. Coming face-to-face with a serious life-threatening health issue, helped me gain perspective about what really matters. In our culture, it can be all too easy to waste our time & energy on petty matters at the expense of the really important ones that can make big a difference. Having your priorities set and staying focused on them is essential to being productive and avoiding getting “stuck in the weeds”.

2. Live life to the fullest – I have a lot of passion and strive to create meaningful and exciting experiences for my family as well as myself. Mason’s brain surgeries, recovery, and rehab helped to remind us that our futures are uncertain so we need to go out there and squeeze every drop out of life that we can. This is true for individuals and families alike. Make it a priority to enjoy yourselves and create lasting memories. We’ll never know how much time each of us has.

3. If something doesn’t sound right, seek expert opinions – When we first suspected that something was wrong with Mason, we took him to two separate pediatricians. One told us he likely picked-up a virus from the kids at his preschool. Another suggested glasses to relieve his headaches. Neither diagnosis sounded right to us. Fortunately, our affiliations with YPO/WPO & EO gave us access into one of the most powerful health networks and connected us with world-class specialists who ultimately saved our son’s life. These same networks have proven to be invaluable in both my professional and personal lives.

4. In adverse times you learn who your true friends are – We needed a lot of support during Mason’s surgery and recovery periods. Our YPO forum members went the extra mile for us by helping with childcare, meals, being there to listen and simply helping whenever needed. Close family friends also stepped-up to make our lives just a little bit easier. To this day, these people continue to be very close to us. In times of crisis you will learn who your true friends are…and you might be surprised.

5. Keep those close to you informed – In times of crisis we are often overwhelmed by phone calls, e mails, and general questions from those who care about us. People do not mean to pry but they want to know what is happening and how they can help. While Mason was in the hospital, I used e-mail to help keep our family connected to those close to us. I regularly sent out photos of Mason, with updates on where we were in the recovery process. So many people told me how much better they felt knowing the latest updates and how they appreciated being kept in the loop without having to ask. People who care about you want to stay informed and are often waiting to help.

6. Kids are resilient– Despite Mason’s physical challenges, he was very resilient.  He went back to school looking like he was fresh out of a scary Halloween movie with huge scars on the front and back of his half shaven head. He never complained, his friends accepted his differences and he just stepped up and dealt with his circumstances.

These are lessons I learned (or re-learned) during a time of crisis but they apply to our everyday lives. I’ve relied on these lessons countless times over the last 10 years and they help me nearly every day.


About Mark Moses

Mark Moses is the Founding Partner of CEO Coaching International and the Amazon Bestselling author of Make BIG Happen. Mark has won Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Blue Chip Enterprise award for overcoming adversity. His last company ranked #1 Fastest-Growing Company in Los Angeles as well as #10 on the Inc. 500 of fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. He has completed 12 full distance Ironman Triathlons including the Hawaii Ironman World Championship 5 times.

Mark Moses
FOUNDING PARTNER & CEO

About CEO Coaching International

CEO Coaching International works with CEOs and their leadership teams to achieve extraordinary results quarter after quarter, year after year. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 1,000 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 60 countries and 45 industries. The coaches at CEO Coaching International are former CEOs, presidents, or executives who have made BIG happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $10 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight, nine, and ten-figure exits. Companies working with CEO Coaching International for two years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 67.8% during their time as a client, nearly four times the U.S. average and a revenue CAGR of 25.5%, more than twice the U.S. average.

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