I just finished reading Every Day I Fight by Stuart Scott with Larry Platt. Scott finished his 290 page auto-biography shortly before he passed away of appendiceal cancer on January 4th of last year. I saw this book over the summer and just got around to reading it. I’m so happy I did. It is an extravagant, wonderfully created piece that makes you happy at one page and cry the very next. The co-author Larry Platt calls the book ‘a love letter to life itself’. It is exactly that. Stuart Scott showed grace and tenacity with such a horrible disease, which is what amazes me; he was so thankful for what he had, and never let cancer get in the way of his life. Stuart Scott was an anchor for Sportscenter, and also a commentator for the NBA on ESPN and ABC. After being diagnosed with Cancer in 2007, Scott fought with such vigor and heart, constantly going to the gym and doing P90X day after day to not only keep himself physically fit, but to do what he promised his two daughters: no never become ‘nothing but a cancer patient’. He wanted to be there for his girls Taelor and Sydni, and to be a model of perseverance and courage to them. Time after time, it seems that Stuart Scott continued to defy all odds his entire life; going from making $200 at a small news station down south to being a living legend at ESPN; to enduring 30+ surgeries (not to mention 4 in one week) and kidney failure, including 18 other surgeries to his eyes. Simply put: this guy was tough. Yet at the same time he was so out-going. Him and his girlfriend Kristen had a saying: Life consists of two dates with a dash in between. Make the most of that dash. Boy, did he. I think the most amazing thing about him was all the things he did while diagnosed with cancer. Vacations, golf tournaments, this guy even attended a New York Jets Training Camp (the coaches ranked him 6th out of the 8 wide receivers there, which was the position he played as a kid.) Stuart won the ESPY’s Jimmy V Perseverance award, a most high honor which he greatly deserved.
I love the way the author wrote this piece. Stuart Scott could have easily portrayed a career as an author if he had wished. He writes with such a tone that I think reflected his own life; even in times of despair and calamity, the book never feels ‘sad’ or ‘sorrowful’. Scott has a message throughout the book that backs this up, and will most likely forever stick with me. He says that he never ever asked ‘why me?’ when it came to the bad things in life, because if he did that then he would have to ask the same question about the good things. If there was an overall theme to this book, I would sum it up with one word: fight. Scott even said it at his speech after winning the Jimmy V Perseverance award: “Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, lay down and let somebody else fight for you.” Even when things got bad for this guy, when his cancer came back for a second and then third time, he fought. I noticed how this book’s structure was different from others. Usual books are composed of chapters, some are broken up in 2 or 3 parts; this was a compromise of the two. It had many sections that were too long to be chapters, but not long enough to be parts. It suited the piece well, and I didn’t mind it.
Here’s a passage from the book I really liked:
“On the football field or TV set, the only way I knew how to succeed was to push myself, to be stronger than my opponent, to work harder. But now there I was, forty-two years old, and the opponent before me was a freakin’ assassin. How do you work harder than cancer? I didn’t know. But when I want to work hard, I go to the gym. After my first four-hour chemo treatment, I was hooked up to a two-day chemo drip in a little bag that attached a port to my stomach- and thirty minutes later, I was in the gym. On the elliptical machine, I looked down and noticed the name of the medicine dripping into my body: I was called fluorouracil, or 5-FU for short.
I smiled, said a little prayer, and then stuck that pack into the pocket of my gym shorts and said to myself: FU, Cancer. The athlete in me realized: This thing growing inside me was trying to kick my ass. Well, I’ve gotta hit first and kick it’s ass. So I attacked the elliptical and make a promise to myself: from then on, I’d be working out within thirty minutes of each chemo treatment. Later, I’d skip the gym- there were too many inquiries about my health; they were well-meaning, but we members of the alternative universe that is CancerWorld chuckle at the overly earnest, stage-whispered “how you feeling” queries meant to convey deep concern- and instead I started doing P90X or mixed martial arts in the living room of my house. From day one, working out was my own private “FU” to cancer.
Because cancer is trying to rob the most precious thing in the world to me: time with my daughters, Sydni, fifteen, and Taelor, nineteen. They’re why I say “FU” to cancer every day. When I have those moments- when I say to myself, This is too hard, I’m too tired to go on- I remind myself that cancer forced me to reconsider my life’s goal and that I haven’t reached it yet: I want to walk Taelor and Sydni down the aisle. I don’t want them with an uncle or some father figure; that’s my place.
I hate that a group of abnormal cells in my body has such control over my life. At the same time, I can’t deny that cancer has actually given me something. Because it gives every moment meaning. Because I’m on a time clock and I don’t know what the time clock says. And no moments are deeper than those with my knucklehead daughters, whom I fight for everyday.” (p. 4 and 5)
There were multiple passages I considered choosing but I went with this one. Why? Because it is so deep and meaningful. Scott’s way with words is so glorious and heart spoken. And like I said before, he makes good come from bad. He hates cancer, but it’s given every moment he’s had meaning. I also really like the comparison of such small cancer cells to his entire life. It shows how bad this illness really is, and paints a good picture in your head.
I loved this book. It sent me on a journey, and now I’ve reached the end. I would rate it a 10 out of 10. It shows that determination and hard work pays off. So when things get bad, do what Stuart would of done. Fight. Fight like hell. These three words turned his life from what could’ve been forlorn sad to one full of joy, life, and above all, love.