Iron Warrior –Honorable Mention, 17th Annual Essay Contest

By Ferris Anthony

My name, Ferris, means iron, and after eight major surgeries in ten years my friends call me the “Iron Warrior.” The surgeries included five by-pass heart surgeries and a total colon removal. My kidneys failed during that same time.

Yet at my last visit to the cardiologist, he said, “You don’t look like anything is wrong with you. I have patients who have only one small problem, but they don’t stop complaining. What’s your secret?”

The secret, if that’s the right word, is “attitude.” There are three things in life that we encounter on a regular basis—knowledge, skills, and attitude. If you don’t know something, you can learn it. For example, suppose you want to learn a new language. Well, there are many ways to do that. If you lack a skill, you can develop it. I’m 79 years old, and I’m developing skills to play the classical guitar.

But what about attitude? Attitude comes from inside us. We create our own heaven and our own hell. Let’s look at some warrior attitudes about kidney disease.

There is a vast network of kidney caregivers prepared to help you. There is a storehouse of knowledge about kidneys and kidney disease at your fingertips. There are different treatment modalities to help you deal with the disease.

In addition, a warrior has the will to face the disease and deal with it head-on. Passive things in life happen to us all the time. Passive things are external events beyond our control. For example, we discover that we are diabetic. That’s a fact beyond our control. However, our response is within our control. We can choose to change our diet. We can choose to exercise. We can choose to take our medication.

Our two most precious resources are time and free will. The warrior uses available time wisely by making wise choices and acting. The warrior faces life’s inevitable adversities by choosing a plan of action. Instead of bemoaning the dealt cards, the warrior says, “I’ll do my best with what I have.”

Being a warrior is not easy. In fact, it’s hard, but overcoming obstacles is what makes you a warrior. I’ve just been diagnosed with lung cancer. Is it time to give up? Is it time to complain? No, it’s time to live up to my iron name, to put on my suit of armor. It’s time to fight.

Ferris F. Anthony, Ph.D is a retired Dean/Professor (Cleveland State University) from Ohio. Because “Ferris” is an unusual first name, his friends call him “Tony.” Tony earned his Ph.D. at Michigan State University. He has been living with kidney disease for about four years and began peritoneal dialysis in May, 2017 and has had eight major surgeries in past 10 years. He is a married father of four. He plays cello, classical guitar and drums. He draws, paints, and sculpts. He volunteers with several non-profit organizations.

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