Fu Man Chu


In August 2004, Tim McGraw’s album Live Like You Were Dying was released, with the title track being the first single. It peaked at number 1 on Billboard Hot Country Songs and stayed there for 7 weeks. It peaked at number 29 on Billboard Hot 100. It was the number one country song of 2004 on Billboard Year-End.

The song went on to win a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance, and a music video was for the song was released featuring McGraw’s father, former baseball player Tug McGraw, who had died of brain cancer.

In the song, someone has a terminal disease and is asked the question: “what did you do?”  The chorus on the song contains the iconic line, in response to the question:

I went sky-diving, I went Rocky Mountain climbing, I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu”

The reference to riding a bull is one of the competitions in American rodeo, in which the goal is to stay on a bull for 8 seconds. A 2.7 second ride is not a great showing for a professional bull rider but quite another story for an amateur.

My recent cancer diagnosis has had me thinking about a lot of things. Not dying, necessarily. But I have been thinking about how best to travel the unique journey of cancer treatment in all aspects of being human: spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, relational, etc. Riding that train of thought, one of the things I decided was this:

I am naming my tumor, Fu Man Chu.

Maybe naming a tumor is silly. I don’t know. Never had one before. I have never ridden a bull before either.  (I would if I had the physical capability!)

Fu Man Chu and I are going to be together for a little while. And while the short-term and long-term details aren’t clear yet, it is likely that only one of us is going to be left standing at the end of that journey.

Whatever the outcome, I intend to spend my time living like I was dying. Because it is apportioned to each man a number of days. And while this earthly ride doesn’t last forever, the next one does.

Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.  James 4:14

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

Here’s a link to Tim McGraw’s song. Don’t blame me if it gets stuck in your head.

Live Like You Were Dying


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