When Adam Robart’s son Haydn was diagnosed with cancer, his family’s world was turned upside down. They went from being a happy family to facing the reality that their child would die. It was a difficult and frightening time, but Haydn’s life and battle with cancer teach us a lot about life, death, and what really matters.

Adam Robarts shares his family's story of Haydn's battle with cancer and new perspectives on life and death.

Perspectives on Life and Death

Haydn’s battle with cancer shows that life is precious and should be lived to the fullest. We also learn that death is a natural part of life and that it’s okay to grieve. Most importantly, we learn that love is the most important thing in this world.

Haydn’s story has inspired Adam Robarts and his family to share their experiences of cancer with others. Adam’s hope is that by sharing their story, they can help other families facing similar challenges.

It is also the hope of this podcast to honor Haydn’s memory by encouraging us to live our lives in a way that you would be proud of.

Life is Too Short to Live Stuck in a Rut

Haydn’s story reminds us that life is short and we should make the most of it. Haydn was only 19 years old when he died, but he lived his life to the fullest. He was an inspiration to everyone who knew him, and his story continues to inspire us today.

We can all learn from Haydn’s example and make sure that we are living our lives in a way that makes us happy. We should also remember to cherish our loved ones, because they are the most important thing in this world.

Adam Robarts and his family have made it their mission to share Haydn’s story with as many people as possible. They want people to know that life is precious and should be lived to the fullest.

You can learn more about Haydn’s story by listening to this episode of Beyond the Rut.

Create a Vision for Your Life Today

If you don’t have a written vision for your life, now is the time to create one. Measure It to Make It can help you create a roadmap to achieve your goals and live your best life.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Download Measure It to Make It right now and create a written vision for your life. You’ll be glad you did.

Adam Robarts

Adam Robarts is the author of Nineteen – 19 Insights Learned from a 19-year-old with Cancer, written in collaboration with Karen Malmqvist and Lou Aronica. Nineteen is a book of nineteen lessons learned from Adam’s son, Haydn Robarts, whose short life profoundly changed all around him.

Adam and his wife Karyn have four children who were born and raised in China. They currently live in Bali, Indonesia, with their youngest son.

Resources and Links

Nineteen Book Cover
Buy your copy of Nineteen: 19 Insights Learned from a 19-Year Old with Cancer.

Related Past Episodes of Beyond the Rut

Andy Storch’s Moving Story of Fighting Cancer and Staying Positive – BtR 322

Ron Worley Intentional Living from Ditches to Riches – BtR 264

Insights from Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture – BtR 111

If You Only Have Five Years to Live – BtR 045

Episode Credits

Host, Editing, and Production: Jerry Dugan


Adam Robarts  00:00

If you’re reading this, it means I’ve probably passed away. Despite everyone’s best efforts to keep me in good health, I want you to know that that’s okay. We all gave it our best shot. And ultimately whatever happens is as God wills it, please don’t feel sad on my behalf, for I’m in a better place, a place where evil doesn’t exist, a place of pure love and joy of this, I am certain.

Jerry Dugan  00:28

Hey, Raider Nation, welcome to another episode of beyond the rut, the podcast that shares encouraging stories and practical tools to help pull you out of your rut into a life worth living. I’m your host, Jerry Dugan. And in just a moment, we’re going to have a conversation with Adam robots. He’s going to be sharing with us insights from his book 19, which showcases 19 insights he gained from his son Hayden, who passed away from cancer at the age of 19. The reason why we had this conversation is one to honor Hayden’s memory. But to those insights that Hayden shares with his father and his family, and those around him, really do help us think about what does it mean to live like we’re dying? And if we had just a limited amount of time, if we knew how much time we had left, what would we do with it? And so how can we take the insights from a dying teenager, apply it to our own lives, so that we’re living our best life today? That is the point of the show, sit back, have a listen. Let’s find out what we can learn from somebody who was in his final years of life and just interacting with those he loved and cared about most. Here we go. All right. Hey, Adam. Thanks for calling in from Indonesia. How are you doing on this fine day?

Adam Robarts  01:42

I’m good. Jerry, thank you for offering to host me on this podcast.

Jerry Dugan  01:46

Oh, yeah. Oh, my pleasure. And I was up early anyway. So having our first recording session at 7am, Central Standard Time and Texas. A Okay. I’ve actually been up since five.

Adam Robarts  01:59

And 8pm. Here

Jerry Dugan  02:00

in Bali. I was gonna ask you like, what is it? Yeah, yeah, we’re opposite sides of the world. So I’m getting my day started, you’re wanting and you’re just down and we got a beyond the runt talk in here in the process. Now, we have you on the show, because you’ve got you’re on a book tour right now for a book called 19. It’s 19 lessons that you learned from a 19 year old with cancer. And you know, that the tragic part and the sad part of that is that we’re talking about your son, Hayden, who is the subject in the center of that 90 lessons you drew from his life. Now, I didn’t share this with you before we started recording. But you know, for my wife and I, this, this does hit home because our son, we got two kids, our son is about the same age as Hayden and, and so when we were putting we were doing the math, and it was like, live this is this is somebody Jacob could have run into and known if they were in the same part of the world at the same time. And, and she was like, I’m not going to read that. Nope, don’t show me that book. And so she saw me reading it and just saying this is powerful. And so she took the extra copy you gave me and she’ll give it back. But now, you know, the house. I got to listen to the episode you did with Rainn Wilson and Reza Aslan. So folks listening, after you listen to this episode, go check out that one. Because you get you’ll get more of hidden story and the lessons from that. We’re going to go similar route, but we’re not going to repeat what they talked about. Because the we want to add to this body of conversation, not just repeat the same one over and over. But my first question for you, Adam, is if we were to, if we were able to meet Hayden today. Who would we be meeting? What kind of person would we be impacted by who?

Adam Robarts  03:48

Jerry, thank you for asking that. You know, Hayden is one of four children. And he initially was number two. He then became number number three. It’s an interesting mathematics. We had a five year old son, Tallis, and a three year old son Hayden. And we had the blessing of being able to adopt a Chinese daughter who was four years old. And so she came right in the middle of the two boys. All of a sudden Hayden from being the second born was the third. And, you know, it was fascinating, because here he was a three year old boy, so excited at the prospect of having a sister. And he immediately said, If it helps, I’d like her to have my room. Because she’s a girl, she should have her own room. And he punked in with Tallis. So Hayden made it possible physically for our home to accept cyan and she joined us. We subsequently had another boy. And Hayden had from the earliest earliest of those years, this gentle, kind, selflessness about him. He was an ordinary human being, I don’t want to make him into a saint. But he was very gentle and kind, and he had a big heart. And he loved he, he loved to make others happy, you know, to take care of others. So when his younger brother was in utero, it was always Hayden who rushed home from school to make ginger tea for Karen or to rub her feet. And then, you know, fast forwarding from those early childhood years, growing up in China being bilingual, born to a Canadian mum, a British dad, well, here he is, he’s 19 years old, and he has done very well at school. He’s a sportsman and an athlete, an academic, a good friend to many, sometimes made the terrible mistake of calling him our textbook child. And I think I tend to, don’t ever Don’t ever do that do. And lo and behold, this gentle giant, this wonderful young man, about to start university to become an architect suddenly has headaches and is feeling a little bit nauseous and a little bit dizzy, lets us know that he’s not feeling too good. And his uncle, my brother, says, Look, why don’t you jump on a train from Ottawa, the end of the summer holidays, you still got a few more days before you go back to London to start your university, jump on a train, and we’ll do an MRI. And he went to Toronto, he did an MRI just to be safe. And it revealed a four centimeter tumor on his pituitary gland. And that in required immediate surgery, and began a nine and a half month period where Hayden went through two brain surgeries and chemotherapy, and then radiation therapy. And then that didn’t solve the problem, the cancer was beginning to spread, and seemed resistant to those treatments. So we then had the opportunity to go on a clinical trial in New York. So we flew to New York, and sort of Hail Mary, last attempt, you know, to see whether we could finally you know, get this cancer under control. And that didn’t work. So Hayden, as a young man was told, we can’t subject we don’t want to subject your body to any more punishment. You know, chemo and radiation is brutal, as you know. And so we think you should just enjoy whatever time you can in these remaining weeks of palliative care. So we then went back to Canada, to replace where Karen grew up, we have a little cottage near Ottawa. And that’s where Hayden spent his last eight weeks of life, surrounded by family, in our cottage by a very simple Lake, north of Ottawa. And he passed away, you know, age 19, one week before his 20th birthday, his approach to death inspired me to write this book, you know, here’s a young man with everything ahead of him. And with not a.of fear, not an ounce of trepidation or anxiety, or fear of dying, he just, he knew that this was his lot. For whatever reason, we never know where the cancer came from. He never asked, you know, why me? If I say in the book, at one point, at one point, he probably might have said, Why not me? You know, I mean, statistically, he was just one of those people who did get cancer. And he approached his death with grace, and gratitude, gentleness, some of those same qualities we talked about in his early childhood. And so this is a book not about Hayden, but about what we learned from this journey through suffering. And what we learned from a very special young man.

Jerry Dugan  08:54

Yeah, yeah, I think the biggest lesson that stood out for me reading through the book is II embraced life, especially when it was you know, I mean, not just in when he was in his final years, but just all throughout, he knew who mattered most to him. And that people in general mattered and and just that servant heart of his and meeting the needs of others, you know, giving updates to the the extended family through those letters and giving encouraging words. And then there’s even a letter that he wrote to if I say it correctly, Kin is his baby brother, towards the end. And I mean, I read that and I was like that, that is, that’s powerful. I mean, that’s, that’s something that Keynes is probably going to keep with him the rest of his life inspire him and it’s so selfless, like you can you can wallow in your misery and wallow in your fear and he instead embrace it and say, let’s, let’s tackle this, let’s go head on. And that’s, I think about that parallel to those who follow the show and those who maybe feel stuck in a rut. You know, they they’ve kind of trapped themselves and you know, we’ve got that choice, you know, We can go after life and live it. Or we can live in fear of losing that life. And you have come across other guests on the show who faced life or face death, I should say, and I’ve overcome it. One is an episode that comes out around the same time as this one and he storge, who took on cancer as well. And, and, you know, he was just living his life during the treatment. And, you know, we’re fortunate, he, you know, is in remission right now. And then another guy who had I guess they call it the Widowmaker of heart attacks. And he’s, he was told he had five years left to live statistically, he’s in year seven right now, and just checking off everything on his bucket list. Things like I want to be a public speaker, I want to write a book, I want to be in a movie. And so he was a voice actor for an animated film that was like, straight to streaming, but he’s like, but my name is in the credits. So it’s like, there’s those kinds of things. There’s segwaying into one of the things that really caught me was the chapter on fear where Karen, your wife, is, is just really upset about, you know, the process, Hayden is going through and, you know, Hayden’s response to her ultimately ends with the phrase, you know, the danger is real. But fear is a choice. And it’s so true, like, addressing accepting the fear and then moving forward is a choice. It doesn’t say that the danger is not there. It’s not some Pollyanna, everything’s great. Everything’s perfect. You know, got the whole world in the palm of my hand, you know, Muppets song, jumped in my head. Tell us about that, like the danger is real. But fear is a choice. And how did that inspire other folks as he was just embracing that?

Adam Robarts  11:45

Well, Jerry, you’ve just picked? I don’t know whether you’re, I mean, we haven’t talked before. So if somehow you’ve picked the two parts of the book, that for me, the most precious one is Hayden’s letter to his younger brother Qian. And to me that exemplifies faith. I think maybe we’ll talk about that later. But, and the other one is Karen’s note about fear. Karen was gripped by fear. Here is a mother, looking at a 19 year old son who she adores with all her heart, and she’s paralyzed by fear. And in that chapter on fear, I share Karen’s notes about her feelings. Can I read some of that? I think he’s so special. I wonder whether it will because Karen’s obviously not with us today in this interview, but maybe I can read it, and it’ll bring the mother’s voice to our podcast interview. So here is Karen’s voice as quoted in the chapter on fear. From the moment the call came in that Singapore hotel room, I was ravaged by fear. So paralyzed, I don’t remember how I packed my things, so stunned that I have no recollection now of even boarding the plane. For the next two weeks after our arrival in Canada, I feigned calm for Hayden’s sake, I maintained the outward appearance of control. While that fear raged within, ravaging my body, choking my breath, I eventually realized that it was depleting me completely, robbing me of the very love and joy I so desperately wanted to give my son. That realisation was a turning point for me. And I remember just when it took place, I was in Toronto, in another hotel room. At the end of a very long day at the hospital, I found myself sitting on the edge of the bed at that moment, unable, even to swallow a few leaves of salad fear was consuming me and I simply broke down, I wept uncontrollably choked out prayers through my tears. And as I was literally gasping for air, I suddenly realized something very simple. If I claimed to have faith, then now must surely be the time to show it. If I believed in God, then now is the moment to accept his will, whatever it might be, I understood my fear was a test, and I was being challenged by it to become detached. Hayden had been given to me, not as a possession, not as a rite, but as a trust from God. He belonged ultimately to God, not to me. At that moment, I saw what trusting God actually looked like in my situation. It meant that whatever the outcome, Hayden would be fine, this realization opened a space for me and allowed me to be with Him fully, to accompany him fearlessly. And with faith from then on. In one of the behind prayers, we asked God to protect us from violent tests. To me, this doesn’t mean that we won’t be tested. We need tests to grow, and I was surely tested as a mother through the awful ordeal of Hayden’s illness. But during those two weeks when I lived in a state of fear, rather than faith, I experienced the full impact of those violent tests. As long as I had not taken a conscious step into faith, I was not protected, all love and joy were depleted, and I could not truly be with Hayden, I’ve come to understand that fear and faith cannot coexist in the same heart, or the same mind, knowing that we are in God’s hands. And believing that he knows what is best for us, enables us to accept the severe trials in life without fear, and helps us face the worst that might happen, confident that we will never be tested beyond our capacity. After that, my faith became my constant companion, and solace. And Hayden became even more to me than he already was. I don’t know, I just find that so beautiful. And, you know, in so many of us live in fear, fear of losing our jobs, fear of losing our children fear of losing our lives. And I think especially with the pandemic, you know, we are seeing a pandemic of fear. And here is an example of a mother gripped by fear of losing her child. And it was in faith that she found her companion and her solace. I have read that so many times and lent into it myself, you know, I’m so grateful to Karen.

Jerry Dugan  16:36

Yeah, it’s such a powerful phrase that she put in there, the fear was holding her back from loving Hayden the way he needed it. And, in what you’re saying is spot on, you know, fear holds us back from everything in life, you know, being plugged in with our spouse, our our own families at home, maybe, you know, holding us back from taking that leap of faith into the next career level, or going back to school, whatever it is, we often use fear to justify not doing the thing. We’re really called to go and do and,

Adam Robarts  17:09

and Jerry, when you when you have a podcast called Beyond the rut, isn’t it interesting that it’s fear that so often keeps us in the rut? You know, we’re afraid to get out of the rat, because we might even, I mean, of course, the rat might be awful. For some people, you know, they might be experiencing something they don’t know how to get out of. But for some people, for some people, the right is comfort, you know, and we might be stuck in a rut, where actually fear prevents us from having the courage to get out and experience something new to grow to be alive, and to explore our faith and what he can really do for us.

Jerry Dugan  17:46

Exactly. It’s like that movie. Yeah. Pleasantville, there’s nothing outside of Pleasantville. Silly. It’s like, no, there’s a lot out there. And so, you know, I love also what Karen says in her letter that, you know, fear and faith cannot coexist, they really can’t, because faith in a big way cancels out that fear, or at least comfort you while you go through it. And it’s like that, like going warp speed, it forms a bubble around your spaceship, and it sends you through protecting you from the forces of when geeky there sorry. So where I want to lay my plane, though, is, you know, what would you say is faith? Like? How would you define faith? Because you talk about it in a whole chapter in the book, even compare it with hope, like the difference between faith and hope. Tell us a little bit more about that. And then we’ll take a dive deeper dive into faith and Hayden again.

Adam Robarts  18:42

So, you know, faith is the chapter that I found the most difficult to write. I think it’s the most substantial chapter in the book. It’s the most robust chapter in the book. I did a lot of reading and praying, deep thinking about that chapter because I knew that in a book, inspired by what we learned from Hayden faith had to be one of the chapters, you know, he, the hero is a young lad, whose faith was remarkable, it was obvious. And I think that’s what allowed him to approach death without fear. It was He was an example of somebody who applied his faith to conquer fear. And he knew, I think in one of the chapters I refer to the Jesuit priest, Pierre Terra to shut down who says that we are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings, having a human experience. And I think Hayden exemplified that he he knew his his reality as a human soul as a divine creation, who happens to going to spend some time on this planet in this material existence, but he was so sure that this is only a very small part of our eternal reality are at tunnelled journey towards God. And so if at some point, you know, we lose the vehicle, that’s okay, you know, the soul is untouched by that, you know a little bit like, you know the bird in the cage, you can destroy the cage, but the bird is not harmed, the bird is free to actually fly. And Hayden had this understanding of his being his purpose was to make that eternal journey to God. So, as we talk about faith, I wanted to write a chapter on faith. But I also wanted to make sure that it was different from an understanding of faith being belief. And so actually, that chapter could have been titled, science and religion. At one point, I thought of that, because actually, Hayden was a scientist, you know, as well as a man who had his own beliefs and his own faith in spirituality and the path to God. But he loved science. Those were his major a level subjects. And he had science books by his bedside, and he had scripture by his bedside. And for him, there was no competition, there was no conflict between those because they were both uncovering aspects of truth. And I define in that chapter on faith, a definition of faith that I took from Abdul Baha, in which our Baha says faith is first, conscious knowledge, and second, the practice of good deeds. And I think that’s very interesting, because that’s not the kind of way that we’re often told about faith, you know, too many people faith as some sort of big leap into the world of the unbelievable of superstition, of things that are hard to get your head around. And actually, I’m not sure that is faith, I think that might be superstition. And therefore, rightly, we struggle with it. But faith is actually grounded. Faith is real, it’s as real as science. You know, it says real as the mountain itself. And so what I actually describe in this chapter, first of all, we explore a little bit, you know, some expressions of faith. And I say, you know, when we believe in gravity, that faith in gravity is not something that is whimsical, it’s based on fact, it’s based on real experience. But when you jump out of an aeroplane, you know, you are practicing that faith, you are putting all the laws of science into effect, and you are practicing faith in that science. And similarly, when you believe in love, and kindness, justice, compassion, generosity, truthfulness, trustworthiness, you know, the fruits of the Spirit, that is, that’s as real as the mountain. There’s no fiction about that. And so I think faith embraces both the world of science and the world of religion. And so in that chapter, we look at these two, and look at how they help us to discover truth, whether from, from religion or from science, there is a coherent reality, there are not two realities, you know, that Divine Creation is one. And science, science is created by God, you know, the laws of science come from God. So Hayden had this understanding that he loved logic, he loved reason. And actually, he approached his study of Scripture, with the method of science, you know, he would read and reflect and think, and put into practice and learn, and then reflect again and read again. And I thought that was very powerful, especially to young people in his peer group, you know, that he was somebody applying the method of science, to the practice of their life, and certainly the practice of his religion of his faith. You know, I think this is the so it’s a really beautiful chapter, and I look at some scientists, you know, who we think of as hardcore scientists, and actually notice that many of them actually believed and practiced faith, you know, I don’t think it’s possible to be a scientist, unless you practice faith, you have to practice faith in that method. That is your that is your tool.

Jerry Dugan  24:06

That was a Galileo who had said, and you mentioned this in the in your book, that’s how I know this. It was Galileo who said something to the effect of, you know, if God didn’t want me to use science to explore the world around me, then he probably wouldn’t have given me this brain to think in the senses to take in this information. And so he’s acknowledging that I have this ability to be analytical of the world around me. And I don’t think that’s, you know, by accident. I think that’s because God created us that way. And so I’m using this method to learn about the world around me and I think people are often shocked that you know, when they hear because I’m a Christian, I’ve only been a Christian since 2005. But people think I’ve grown up with it my whole life. But I was a pre med major in college. Not a good one, but I was a pre med major. So I’m not a doctor now. And you You know, so I approached my own faith, you know, asking tons of questions and, you know, just balancing out, well, why do we act like this and like this, and then started to really distinguish between, you know, what was the message in the bible verses? What are traditions that people added on, that may or may not be a proper or appropriate interpretation of what they read. And, and so it, you know, that scientific method also allows you to kind of go in there and, you know, get to the core of what is, you know, you know, for me, you know, my Christian faith, and then, you know, was it for other people, what is their faith, that thing that they believe in and, and then adding, like doing something with it, though, you know, the works part of it that you quoted Abdul Bihar as saying, and, you know, there’s even a scripture, it’s faith and works that are a part of our worship, not just faith gifts, we run into people who just want to study, study, study, and they never do anything with it, they never serve others, they never encourage others. And you have people who are the opposite, and are like, well just be a good person to others, but they don’t really believe anything bigger than themselves. And so it’s when you put the two together, that you really are starting to connect your soul with something bigger than you and the world is takes a different. I know the world for me took a different view, or vantage point, the moment I put those two together.

Adam Robarts  26:17

Beautiful, I think the essence of faith is fewness of words, and abundance of deeds, you know, those those actions are the way we live our faith, the way we actually also test our faith, you know, unless we have the actions, how does our faith get tested? How does it grow? So we have nothing to fear by stepping out and practicing that faith. Faith is robust. Faith is strong. In the book, I describe faith as the mountain and hope as what can stand on that mountain. Oh, yeah. You know, hope. So you asked earlier about hope. And you know, I think, again, hope sometimes is portrayed as wishful thinking. I don’t think it is a tool, I think hope is something that is grounded on that mountain. If you have a strong faith, then your hope is powerful. It’s positive. You know, it’s that journey towards the summit of the mountain, and then the next Summit and the next summit because the mountain keeps going. Yes. And I think that sort of joy of making the journey, that hope that carries us on even when times are difficult, has to have a strong footing. Otherwise, it’s just in the clouds. Yes. Hope that’s in the clouds isn’t really going to help us get up those steep slopes.

Jerry Dugan  27:38

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Because when the going gets tough, you know, you won’t be the tough that gets going. Yeah, it’s without that faith. Yeah, it’s not like you said, it’s, I believe that, you know, as I pursue what I have hoped for, that I really will happen, I’ll make it happen. I’ll work with others to make it happen, it will create it and and that a little all come together, you know that what we do wind up with is the thing that we need to have. And it sounds like that’s something that came out of Hayden’s faith journey as well. And we talked about, you know, just how his character had been developed through that. And his life choices. Yeah. Oh, man. I’m just, I’m just

Adam Robarts  28:22

curious. I wonder, I wonder whether for the listeners to this podcast, we give them a treat, which is to read a little bit from a Hayden’s letter to his younger brother Qian, because to me, I don’t know what degree Hayden had faith before his illness. I think he had a remarkable faith. But who cares? It’s not, we shouldn’t be comparing this faith. This person’s faith is stronger than that person Exactly. But I do know that during the journey through suffering with cancer, Hayden’s faith grew, that’s what’s important not to compare it to other people, but to see what he did through this journey. And the letter that he wrote to his brother in his closing weeks of life with us here, I think exemplifies something very precious. I wonder, can I read it? Is that a

Jerry Dugan  29:11

yes? Yeah. In fact, I was going to ask you whether we brought it up or not, like, if I could read it as an add on to the episode, but I think it’d be better coming from you.

Adam Robarts  29:19

So here it is. And you can certainly read it too. I think. It’s, um, this is a letter that for listeners, was written by Hayden, a few weeks before he passed away. He gave it to his mother, Karen, and he said, Mum, if I die, please give this letter to Qian. How did Hayden know that he was offering a lifeline to his younger brother age 15 At the time, because actually what happened is after Hayden passed away, he on plunged into a horrendous grief, really awful, a very, very dark place because he lost his closest his closest friend is his brother, and I’m so grateful Hayden wrote this letter. So here’s, here’s how it goes. If you’re reading this, it means I’ve probably passed away. Despite everyone’s best efforts to keep me in good health, I want you to know that that’s okay. We all gave it our best shot. And ultimately, whatever happens is as God wills it, please don’t feel sad on my behalf, for I am in a better place, a place where evil doesn’t exist, a place of pure love and joy of this, I am certain picture a beautiful garden with life flourishing everywhere, with streaming water and radiant light, the sound of laughter in the air, the smell of fresh flowers. This is an image I’ve been using to keep me happy in the last few days. Whenever you feel sad or depressed, or confused, close your eyes, take a deep breath, hear the water. And imagine us in that setting in a world where there are no troubles. Alternatively, if you’re ever feeling down or sad, because of my passing, turn to God, say some prayers. Remember, I will always be around you watching over you, and so is God. It may not make much sense why there is suffering in the world. And why things like this happen. I often wondered the same thing and never quite understood it. Until these past few weeks suffering brings us closer to God and can make us realize things that we have never understood before. I truly don’t think I’ve ever felt as much deep joy and happiness. As I have. Over the past few weeks, I’ve felt closer to God, closer to our family. And I’ve had hope for a better world. One that is united, joyous, beautiful and flourishing. I may never have felt this, if not for my cancer and coming so close to death. So even though it may seem like a terrible thing from the outside, it has also brought about many positives. I hope you can also see this or come to understand it in time. And I hope you will always remember the joyous memories we’ve had. Whether traveling to Laos and Cambodia, or saying prayers together in that little room in Toronto. I love you so much, Aiden. And that’s extraordinary that he said he felt he had more hope for the world. In those last weeks when his body was basically being eaten up by cancer. When he was at his physical weakest. He says I felt the happiest. Yeah, yeah, really, if that isn’t a testimony to the power of the Spirit, you know that the spirit is what is alive, despite whatever troubles, whatever fears, whatever cancer, whatever, burglar in the house, whatever loss of jobs, whatever loss of family, the human spirit, that divine creation that can carry us that is the spiritual guide rope up the steepest mountain. So yeah, I read that letter. And I think, ooh, from a 19 year old, what a lot I have to learn.

Jerry Dugan  33:17

He grew up a lot in such a short period of time. And I know men in their 50s, who haven’t gained this sense of awareness yet, and they should, and hopefully this kind of wakes them up and says, Oh, yeah, wow, and get the best of their lives and start pouring into their kids and their grandkids and leaving those legacies, because that that letter is a legacy that he left for kin, and then we’re key and goes from here, it’s just going to be amazing. It’s gonna be all kin, but I think part of him is always going to have that letter to boost him and bring him through and, and give credit to you know, it’s, it’s the kind of letter that, you know, soldiers would write in before going off to war, you know, in case something happens here, buddy, send this to my family if something happens to me, and I share with my friends that, you know, I’d written a letter similar before we invaded Iraq in 2003. Except I didn’t, I didn’t want to hand it off to anybody because I knew that would burden them with two things. One, Sergeant Dugan might die. And the other thing is, we might die. And so to preserve their sense of bravado and not scare them, I sent it home and I had to do that though. I had to disguise it and just write it in a way that didn’t make my wife fearful either, but encouraged her and, but, and she to this day still can’t tell which letter it was. I almost can’t tell except by looking at the date. I’m like, okay, that’s that’s when I wrote that. But chances are it never actually arrived now that I think about it, but it just told her how much I loved her and what my hope was for our children what kind of people they grew up to be. It was like words of love you Even though my son wouldn’t have remembered me, and my daughter wasn’t born yet, you know, like stuff like that, and I’m bringing all this up, because my encouragement to you listening into this conversation is write a letter to somebody that is encouraging, as if it’s your last letter. But also don’t make it the last letter Do you ever write you know, write another one and another one. But for now sit down, write a letter of encouragement to somebody, it can be an email, it can be a text message, just make it thoughtful, and, you know, plant that seed of hope and faith into somebody, and then do it today. So

Adam Robarts  35:34

Jerry, that is so beautiful, I love it. You know, and I think one of the messages of the book 19 Is that if we lived every day of our lives, as if it was our last, you know, writing that last letter, you know, doing that last good deed for a friend who we might otherwise just put off that good deed for someone who needs help visiting a sick person, you know, visiting somebody who’s lonely, smiling across the table at somebody who’s maybe doesn’t have a lot of friends, you know, live as if today was our last. And I think in that way, we look at a story like Hayden’s, which is a story of approaching death. But the real message is that it enables us to live our lives more purposefully, with more passion, and greater intent. I think if we live in the consciousness of death, we can actually live better lives. Alright. So there’s nothing nothing to fear death is a great teacher, you know, a great teacher, and there you are in the army, you know, looking at death in the face, you know, conscious that this might happen? I think it probably raises your consciousness as a human being, you know, as a soul, you know, more prepared, you know, more elevated in your thoughts?

Jerry Dugan  36:54

Oh, definitely did, I was 27 at the time, just thinking, Yeah, I got a career in this, I’m going to retire, I’m going to move up the ranks pretty quickly. But then I realized, I’m in the job that has the highest number of posthumously awarded medals than any other job in the US Army. And we’re expecting 20% casualties. When we hit Baghdad, Oh, I’m dead. I’m not going to make it home. And that was the thing that made me say right home and tell them how you feel. Tell them what you look forward to tell them what you hope to see in the future. As if you are coming home. But, you know, plant those seeds, let them know, don’t let there be any doubt of what you feel. And yeah, July came around, and I got sent back home and I thought wow, I I did not die. Well, let’s pretend I am. And and so just every day since then, it’s it’s always been a you know, I gotta get up and experience something new, I gotta read something new, I got to do something new. And it is just been a life change for me. And and so my hope with the show even is it encourages those listening in to do the same thing, you know, live like you’re dying, you know? And, you know, what is the thing you would do? If you have today were your last day? Who would you talk to? What would you let them know? What would matter most for you in that memory. And I see a lot of that in how you know hate and wrote to people and encourage them in those final months and years. Now I know the book you can you can get it on Amazon and other places where books are sold and you know there’s a website 19 dot life. So the word 19 and i n e t e n dot life. And you’re on Instagram 19 DocBook is the username and is Is it a Facebook group or a Facebook page?

Adam Robarts  38:49

It’s a Facebook page. Okay, so 19 dot book, there you

Jerry Dugan  38:53

go. So you need to get out there, check out the website, bookmark it in your browser, go to Facebook, if you’re on Facebook and Instagram and go follow this book, be a part of that journey, get the word out there, get a copy for yourself, and also get a copy to pay it forward. Give it to somebody else and in and encourage their lives as well. Adam, are there any final words of wisdom you want to share with folks before we sign off?

Adam Robarts  39:18

You know, Hayden was 19 when he passed away, but interestingly, I don’t know many 19 year olds who write a will Hayden had had a start at a well I don’t think he finished it. But the book finishes with this couple of sentences from Hayden and I thought let’s give him the last word. This is what Hayden would wish for us. He says, live a life filled with joy and try to consciously consider how to bring joy to the lives of those around you as well. I often think about the word consciously in that that he says think how to consciously bring joy to others. That I think is the message that I treasure in my heart. And for whatever days I have left here, I will do that in Hayden’s name, always inspired by his journey with grace and gratitude, despite his suffering. So thank you. Thank you, Jerry, for this privilege to be on your podcast. And to share a little bit about my book 19.

Jerry Dugan  40:21

Adam, it was an honor and a pleasure. And just what a way to start Saturday for me deep conversation to kick it all off. Thank you. Thank you. Now, be sure to check out the show notes at beyond the rut.com/three to three, there, you’ll find links to Adam’s website, how to buy the book 19, as well as other episodes that really talk about live like you’re dying. And so I’ll have some past guests linked to this episode as well. Now, if you haven’t yet just created your own vision and your set of goals of what you want to accomplish in life, and given it a timeframe and a deadline. Then I also invite you to go to download my free book, measure it to make it it’s a workbook that walks you through the process of identifying what are your values? What means most to you in life, what is your bucket list? And then what are the milestones and goals to get you there. So go check it out. It’s at beyond the rut.com/goals. I’ll also have it linked in the show notes at beyond the rut.com/three to three. So again, if you have not put your life vision and your purpose and your goals into writing and given it a deadline, that is just a dream. And so that is the conversion. I’m challenging you to make live with a sense of urgency guys live like you’re dying, and go download that workbook and get cracking on it. So there you have it. I’m glad you joined me this week. I hope to join you again next week. But until next time, go live life beyond the rut. Take care

How Haydn’s Battle with Cancer Changes Our Perspectives on Life and Death – BtR 323