Saturday, May 14, 2016


(In Photo: Dan Lucia, left, and cousin Michael)
You know those days when you’re just not feeling up to doing whatever it is you have to do? One of those mornings when you just want to take the day off? I know everyone has those moments, I sure do. It’s not always easy to find the motivation or the energy to go ahead and push through to accomplish what needs to be done. Those are the days where you need to find your motivation; your reason to get it done.  I have my reason; it’s my cousin Michael.

Michael and I are only about six weeks apart in age. I was born in August 1984 and he was born in September. We don’t see each other too often as he lives in South Florida and I’m in Western Massachusetts. We speak often though, and we share a huge love...  The Yankees.

But that’s not what makes Michael my motivation. That stems from his positive attitude and great personality. He has a lot of love for friends and family and always makes it a point to ask about my kids. He is an outgoing, funny, free spirit.

He is also fighting one hell of a battle; Brain cancer.  

Just about five years ago he had an unexpected seizure and tests revealed a brain tumor. He went through surgery in which his great team of doctors at Duke University removed as much of the tumor as possible. But that wasn’t the end of it. For the past five years he has been on and off of chemotherapy but has continued to live a relatively normal life, all while fighting a battle that makes my minuscule issues seem ridiculous.

He has regular appointments at Duke and actually got to meet Hall of Famer Gary Carter, with whom he shared a team of doctors. I remember getting a phone call from him telling me about how he met ‘Kid’ and how he gave him some encouraging words. We both thought it was very cool!  Gary Carter unfortunately succumbed to his battle with brain cancer on February 16, 2012.

Following the past few years of the status quo, his last appointment revealed some more bad news. There had been some changes for the worse and the doctors recommended another surgery.  On May 19, Michael will head back up to Duke to undergo a second brain surgery.

While it was obviously tough to hear and make the decision to go through the procedure again, that hasn’t stopped him from being himself and keeping a positive outlook on life.  I got a couple analogies via text after he found out the surgery date and time was set:

“If the hospital is a battlefield, your cousin wears stripes.”  Followed by: “I want to be a four star general and I know this is just part of the path to get there.” Damn. He’s a fighter through and through.

I was obviously concerned, but his positive outlook on this whole thing was mind blowing to me. He has to go through this unbelievable daily battle and I worry about little crap in my life that makes me feel like I'm being petty. When the going gets tough for me I try and think about how if he can keep a positive outlook on his struggles, mine should be a piece of cake.

I told the kids I coach about Michael and how he is an inspiration to me and thinking of his battle keeps me going when I want to take a break. It’s not easy to keep 15 teenager's attention, but they actually listened and many seemed to soak up what I was telling them.

I was trying to use someone else’s strengths as a motivational message to them. Baseball is just a game but it is also a commitment. Your team relies on you and you need to give it 100% not only for you but for your team. the same message applies to life in general. There are people that care for you and rely on you.
I told my players to think about it and find their motivation or reason to push through whatever their struggle is on a given day and overcome it. In the famous words of Jimmy Valvano, “Don’t give up… Don’t ever give up.” 

Not daily, not monthly, not yearly, not ever. No matter the battle. It’s most likely not as serious as they think it is.

When the going gets tough or life throws you a curve ball, you have go with it and get through it. You have to press on and dig deep. Sometimes it takes some extra motivation. My motivation is Michael.

Kick some ass and take some names Cuz and I’ll come visit as soon as I can. And of course, Go Yanks!

Special thanks to Casey for giving me a means to express my message. I hope everyone out there can find their motivation, no matter their particular struggle.

 --Dan Lucia
BYB Senior Writer
Twitter: @DManLucia

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