Archives for posts with tag: Frank Schwall

I have been diagnosed with Stage III C metastatic colon cancer. I had 12 inches of my colon and 32 lymph nods, 14 of which were cancerous, taken out on December 14th. I start 6 months of chemotherapy tomorrow, Friday January 18th. I will get 3 days of chemo every two weeks for a total of 12 treatments. At that time CT and PET scans will be done to see if there are tumors growing. If yes then I will keep doing chemo. If nothing is growing then I might be able to take some time off. The general consensus is that I will need to “manage” my cancer for the rest of my life. As I always say 85% of all statistics are made up so I am taking the stats that apply to my condition with a grain of salt.


So why am I telling everyone about this? Yes, I have always enjoyed attention, but only for good things. Attention, sympathy – pity party – or being a downer are not the reasons for this post or for future posts. My reason for writing about this is to raise awareness that will lead to each of you taking ACTION! Physicals every year and colonoscopies BEFORE you turn 50. This applies to the girls too.


I have heard about cancer stories before, good and bad including Katie Couric’s husband and Tony Snow the White House Press Secretary for GW Bush, but I never paid attention mostly because the stories were not explained in detail and were not graphic enough. I want to make people WAKE UP and internalize what can happen if they do not take action now.


So here is my story. My last physical was in the summer of 2009. Everything checked out fine and the doctor told me I did not need a colonoscopy until I turned 50. Starting about 1 1/2 years ago I noticed I would get short of breath when I exercised or walked up stairs or hills. It would not last long and I was not short of breath when I was sitting. I would get frustrated while swimming or attempting to run on the treadmill. I have always been decent at distance things but I figured that I was getting old and was out of shape. I would get tired at the end of the day but who doesn’t? I would fall asleep on the train home but when I got up to exit I would see half of everyone else asleep so I did not think anything of it. 


I went for a physical in December 2012. The doctor gave me the thumbs up but that night the on call nurse called to ask if I was ok. She suggested I get a blood transfusion. The blood work showed that I was severely anemic which meant I did not have enough blood in my body. I was told to go back to the doctor the next morning so that they could re do the blood test. They thought it must be some sort of mistake. It was not a mistake. The doctor could not believe I had been operating with this condition. He said I must be bleeding. (They call colon cancer the silent killer because it can go undetected – even the bleeding)


I got a colonoscopy on December the 12th. The doctor found a big tumor that was almost blocking my colon plus a lot of lymph nods. When I woke up from the colonoscopy he told me I had cancer and needed to check into the hospital for surgery. The surgery was successful. We then interviewed several oncology groups and decided to use the group at Memorial Sloan Kettering in the city. So tomorrow I get a “port” put in my chest. It is like a hole that allows the tube from the chemo to be injected into my vein. I will go to the infusion center for a day and then take home a portable bottle of chemo that will continue to go into me for the next 48 hours. So it works out to be about 3 days of chemo every two weeks. There are side effects but they are different for each person. I don’t plan on having any side effects and will power on through the whole thing. I will not let my kids see me as anything other than the guy they have known their whole lives. That is the most important thing to me.


This is not going to be pleasant but I can take it. I don’t want it to happen to you so take action tomorrow. Call your doctor and schedule a physical if you have not had one in the last year and also request a colonoscopy. Don’t let your doctor tell you to wait till you are 50.


On July 28th I am doing the Swim Across America Event in the Long Island Sound. Check out the web site.

Mickey Mantle, the great baseball player for the New York Yankees, was asked if there was ever a time when he walked up to the plate with the sole intention of hitting a home run. He answered yes… every time.  That answer captures the essence of Mickey Mantle. He was funny, bold, a great story teller and larger than life.

Mickey Mantle was also a complex person, part hero and great friend but he could also be bad father and husband. Tonight I am going to discuss 3 aspects of Mickey’s life organizing it into 3 categories. First I will discuss his athletic accomplishments as a baseball player. Then I will talk about some of the fun times Mickey had by telling a story Mickey liked to tell. I will conclude my talk by discussing the last years of Mickey’s life as he came to terms with his accomplishments and failures.

Let’s begin with Mantle’s athletic accomplishments. Mantle who was born in Oklahoma was a great all-around athlete. He was offered a football scholarship to the University of Oklahoma. But he signed with the New York Yankees and spent the better part of the 1950’s and 1960’s playing for the Yankees. Mickey Mantle was voted the American League MVP 3 times. In 1956, his best season, he won baseball’s Triple Crown – leading the league in batting average, home runs and runs batted in. He holds the unofficial record for the longest home run in a game. In 1960 he hit a ball 643 feet over the Tiger Stadium roof in Detroit. Mickey played in 12 World Series and was on the winning side 7 of those times.  And in 1974 he was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

So these accomplishments are a big part of the legend of Mickey Mantle. But Mickey’s reputation as a fun loving and adventure seeking man who loved to tell stories of his escapades is also a big part of the Mickey Mantle story. To highlight this point I will share with you a story that Mickey liked to tell about a hunting trip with his best friend Billy Martin. The story shows Mickey to be fun loving and a joker but also shows the strong friendship and loyalty he shared with Billy.

Mickey lived in Dallas after he retired from baseball. His friend Billy Martin had been hired to manage the Texas Ranger baseball team. So Billy and Mickey had time to spend together. Billy had been given a hunting rifle as a present and one day he asked Mickey if he’d like to go deer hunting? Mickey said no Billy you wouldn’t like it. We’d have to get up early and drive down to the hill country. But Billy was perscestant and Mickey agreed to set up the trip. Mickey knew a man in central Texas who had a big farm with lots of land that was perfect for deer hunting. So they got up really early and drove down to the man’s farm. When they got there Mickey told Billy that he needed to tell his friend that they had arrived and were off to go hunting. So Mickey got out of the car and walked across the barn yard that was full of farm animals cows and chickens and an old mule. The man was delighted to see two great baseball legends – Mickey at his front door and Billy Martin waiting in the car.  The friend said it would be great for them to hunt but as Mickey was about to say thanks the man said he had a favor to ask of Mickey. He told Mickey about his mule. They mule was old and sick and needed to be laid to rest. He said I have had that mule for so long and I don’t want him to suffer anymore but I don’t have the heart to shoot him myself.  Could you do me a big favor and shoot him for me. Mickey said come on I can’t do that but the man talked him into it.  As Mickey was walking through the barn yard to get to the man’s house he started to think about all the times Billy had played practical jokes on him. So he got an idea for a joke to be played on Billy. Mickey storms back to the car and said  “give me one of those rifles”. Billy said what’s wrong. Mickey said we got up so early and drove all the way down here and now that guy says he is not going to let us hunt on his land. I’m so mad at him I am going to shoot his mule. Billy said no Mickey you can’t do that. We’ll get in trouble and be in the newspaper it will be a big disaster. Mickey said I don’t care I am going to kill his mule anyway. So Mickey took the rifle, takes aim at the mule and bag shot him dead. But the next thing he knows he hears two more shots ring out. Mickey turned around and Billy said “I got two of his cows”.

Many more of these types of stories have been told but it was Mantle’s history with alcohol that adds a dark side to his life’s story. F Scott Fitzgerald once said “show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy “- His alcohol abuse led to a failed marriage and strained relations with family and friends. Underlying these troubles were two problems. First Mickey never thought he, like the rest of the men in his family, would live past his 40th birthday. All the men in his family including his dad had died an early death. They were miners who died of various occupational hazards of that type of work.  Mickey did not think he had much to live for so he lived like there was no tomorrow. The second thing that Mickey always had trouble understanding was his fame and popularity. It made him uncomfortable that so many people would do anything to get his autograph or shake his hand. He never thought he was that great. He was very hard on himself and always said he could have been a better player. Many times he said that he wished he was never famous. Drinking was a way for him to escape the pressure that came with the high public expectations.  Mickey began to come to terms with his problem in 1994 when he checked himself into rehab. In 1995 he received a liver transplant – the result of hard living – It was during this time that Mickey was able to come to terms with his fame but he continued to be hard on himself.  He famously said “if I knew I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself”

Mickey said, “You talk about a role model — this is a role model. Don’t be like me. God gave me the ability to play baseball and that’s what I wanted to do. God gave me everything and I just wasted it”. Mickey died in 1995.

None of us think that Mickey wasted it but he did live a complicated life shaped by his baseball accomplishments, his fun loving story telling ways and his attempt at the end of his life to address his problems.

Mickey wanted to be remembered as a great teammate and in fact that is the inscription on his plaque at Yankee Stadium.

A complicated man that tried to hit a home run every time he went to bat.

Wake Up !!


Toastmaster Speech 3 – Get To The Point


In 1875 a committee was formed in the US House of Representatives to study the impact that the Horseless Carriage would have on the country. The committee was labeled the Horseless Carriage Committee. The committee report can be found in the Congressional Record. Here is an excerpt from the report.


 “Horseless Carriages propelled by gasoline might attain speeds of 14 or even 20 miles per hour. The menace to our people of vehicles of this type hurtling through our streets will call for prompt legislative action. The cost of producing gasoline is far beyond the financial capacity of private industry and the development of this new power may displace the use of horses which would wreck our agriculture.”


It is obvious that many of the US Political leaders of that time were out of touch with what was happening in their world.


I believe that is happening again. Our political leaders are focused on the wrong issues and are unable to see how the world is changing.


The goal of my speech tonight is to “Get to the Point”. My point is that our political leaders need to — WAKE UP!!


I hope to persuade you to agree with me that the political conversation from both our political parties needs to first focus on recognizing today’s global realities and secondly to lead us in finding ways to enhance our countries natural advantages.


In getting to my point and persuading you to my way of thinking I will discuss how our political leaders see the world differently than CEOs. I will discuss how as Tom Friedman of the NY Times states, average is over, and that our country is well positioned to take advantage of this new world paradigm.


Think about what a politician sees when he or she looks at a map. They see states that contain voters. They want to be popular in each state regardless of the reason. Now think about what a CEO of a premier company that makes great products sees when he or she looks at a world map. They see places where their products can be made and sold. Michael Dell is always reminding people that 96 percent of his potential new customers live outside theUS– the rest of the world. He points out that it is helpful to make at least some parts of the products he wants to sell in the countries where he wants to sell them. Many companies consider themselves to be global companies and citizens of the world. They have offices and factories and design teams located all over the place. The do not view things in terms of exports and imports. Tom Friedman writes that these CEOs rarely talk about outsourcing. The topic of Outsourcing is so 10 years ago. Their world is integrated. There is not an out or an in anymore. Many of their products might be designed/ imagined in theUS, manufactured in theChina, marketed inFranceand orchestrated by people here in theUS. So the old phrase Made inAmericaor Made inJapanare outdated. Most things are Made in the World. So our political leaders need to recognize this fact and quit acting like this is the 1970’s. They need to lead us in making policies that won’t attempt to fight the trend like the Horseless Carriage Committee but to take advantage of the trend.


Now let’s talk realistically about jobs. In the past here in our country people with average skills, doing an average job, could earn an average lifestyle. But as Friedman says – average is over. Adam Davidson writes in The Atlantic magazine that in the 10 years ending in 2009USfactories shed workers so fast that they erased almost all the job gains of the previous 70 years. Companies now have access to technology, software and automation not to mention access to cheaper labor in other parts of the world. These companies are not going to look the other way and pay US workers for jobs they don’t need to fill. Now our political leaders of the day blame the loss of jobs on political policies – taxes being too high or too low or greed or some other reason that is an easy scapegoat. Or they change the subject entirely i.e. birth control. But one of the main reasons we have lost jobs and are seeing higher unemployment is that the world economic paradigm has changed. Of course this is a hard pill for the American worker to swallow. I’m sure all the horse owners and horseshoe makers, not to mention the horses, got pretty upset too when the car starting putting them out of business. The point is to adapt to the trend. Instead of placing blame our political leaders need to be leading the charge in empowering our people to adapt and thrive in this new world.


The last point I want to make is that this is not bad news. Think about it. What country has historically welcomed talented people / immigrants from all over the world more than theUS? What country has the best capital markets that are safe and credible? Our currency is strong and our stock exchanges are stable. TheUSis a great place to register for patents. And in our country .we have benefited by government funding of research and innovation that has led to huge gains in space research, bioscience and clean energy. There will be plenty of jobs for our citizens to design and market products and to manufacture and retail high end products. And of course all aspects of these products need to be shipped places and that shipping will continue to be a growing industry.


So our political leaders need to learn a lesson from the Horseless Carriage Committee. They need to change the political conversation and focus on today’s global realities and help lead our citizens to compete in a global interconnected economy where products are Made in the World, where average skills can no longer support an average life. Our political leaders should not fall back on petty placing of blame for the changes we are experiencing but instead embrace the changes and help to empower us to thrive. So to get to the point – our political leaders need to Wake Up!

Welcome to Frank Schwall’s Blog.