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14 MAR

5 Alive

5 Alive

Grateful. Blessed. Honored. Humbled.  These are the four cornerstones it seems of every social media influencer, people needing attention or someone selling some product. Try scrolling down on any platform and these words show up more than the-a-or-are-on-and-it and even the humble period.

I scrolled down three or four posts on Facebook. POOF, here is the perfect example of a random person… “I am humbled and honored to announce my international Presidents Circle Award for excellence. I am beyond grateful to all and am truly blessed by all of your support.”

Not only were all four cornerstones used but they were enhanced. Beyond Grateful. Truly Blessed. Only humbled and honored were left in the lurch by their lonesome without a colorful adjective. Influencers and posters in general – it’s a bit much! As they say in the Academy….Thanks for the award and on with the show.

But now, I’m going to be a bit of a hypocrite! First, our Brokerage, Echo Fine Properties was nominated for Best Brokerage of the year for 2024 (5 consecutive years) by readers of the Palm Beach Post this week. Woo Hoo! I’ll say I’m beyond thankful to our agents and team at ECHO and beyond thankful to our clients and the community for their business and referrals. We have seriously wicked smart talented agents and staff, enjoy what we do, love working together, have fun, and it’s very satisfying to help other human beings with such an emotionally important life decision. Their home.

With 5’s on my mind, I’ll save grateful and blessed for something else that happened to me for 5 consecutive years. Two years ago, I celebrated my 5th consecutive year of being CANCER FREE. My wife reminded me that this week is Kidney Cancer Awareness month. Kidney Cancer is among the ten most common cancers in both men and women with the rate rising over the past 30 years for some reasons I’ll discuss later. I was diagnosed at 47 years of age. I also didn’t share it publicly until I was 5 years cancer free. Our brokerage is still only 5 years old and at the time our business was fragile, and I was afraid customers would shy away from doing business with us. Lot of people who are independent contractors go through this dilemma. It was the right decision, but it also weighed on me as people who are going through these things need to talk to others.  Once I was out of the woods, I started to openly talk about it to be a resource. My treatment took place at MD Anderson CANCER Center in Houston. My Mom had been there right before me and survived Esophageal Cancer.  If you care to read on, I’ll share my post from two years ago when I got to ring the bell. Florida has an older population and cancer is more common here. Making decisions to stay local or go out of state is hard. If it helps someone you might know going through something similar, then it would not only make my March, but I’d be honored to help. I never got into the Grateful Dead, but I am Grateful Alive….

Read on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/share/2mvAZ6Y2WFNwC4Xs/?mibextid=WC7FNe

C̶A̶N̶C̶E̶R̶ FREE 🔔 😀!

I’ve felt bad that I’ve kept this quite other than family, a few old grammar school friends and a few colleagues. I know I can be a resource for others with cancer (mine was kidney) and other independent contractors where it can be very detrimental for work to have it out in the open. It’s also good news and might be hopeful to someone so I want to share.

A little background…. As a Realtor, our business, 5 years ago was still dependent on me being in the field and unfortunately it absolutely is on the mind when people make a selection who represents them. Independent contractors in lots of fields have no fixed income, no tenure, pay our own health insurance and work oddball hours without assistance.

Fortunately for us, we’ve built a strong empowered team and use a collaborative approach where we don’t miss a beat and pay as a company for everything. I’m very thankful for our team and help provided while I was less than 100%.

A bit about my cancer…. I discovered my cancer the day before we had this big 6 a.m. photo shoot and breakfast at Coral Cove Park. I had blood 🩸 in my urine the evening before after a sushi meal. My mind went to the raw tuna as the source of red, but Google results showed bad things if not kidney stones. I decided to enjoy my morning (For all my bad traits I’m good at compartmentalizing) which was a celebration of us really on our way to becoming a successful brokerage and then to Jade’s volleyball 🏐 game. Then went to the health center. Thought they were stones, but they sent me to Jupiter Med to get scanned as a precaution. The technician then sent me back to the health center which I knew meant bad news. They found a mass. 50% chance it was malignant. A few days later the news was bad.

I frantically worked to get my affairs in order and contingency plans in place in case I died on the table. I learned from my folks to treat medical situations like a hypochondriac and move fast. My Mom went to MD Anderson C̶A̶N̶C̶E̶R̶ Center for successful esophageal cancer 6 years before and I visited twice. It’s all they do. 11 days after diagnosis they removed my kidney.

The first year was rough. I didn’t have energy and would just get exhausted in the early afternoon. I leaned on Veronica and our team a lot in that year.

Checkups back to Houston were at the 3- and 6-month marks and then yearly. CT scan with contrast, take blood, chest X-ray. Fly in on Saturday. Testing on Sunday and then into a little white room to hear your fate on Monday morning.

I never thought 💭 about it much until coming to Houston and more specifically, into that little room.

For me, life was good, and I was never fearful of death. Our children were formed and people of good character.  I love my wife and felt accomplished in my career. If our kids were 10 years younger than probably a different state of mind.

I think everyone feels the way they do, has different circumstances and you can’t judge anyone for how they feel or react to cancer. Some can compartmentalize like me, some scared, some sad, some mad. Everyone is different.

I had an easier post cancer as there isn’t a good treatment other than to remove it. The plus is no chemo or radiation or meds.

MD Anderson is an incredibly caring place. It’s 20,000 specialists in the cancer med field collaborating. Cancer is the only thing they do. Positive energy. Ask anyone around there for directions whether a surgeon or custodian and they stop and help with a smile. You leave the trivialities of the world 🌎 behind. Positive messages everywhere. Everyone there is going through something. Little kids with brain cancer and older people in pain and everything in between. You feel more for others than yourself when you are there.

If you ever get cancer, don’t fuck around and waste time or not consider a place because it’s far away. Some cancers can be treated well here locally and others you need to do your research and go outside of your comfort zone. MDA is a wonderful place and has the best treatment you can imagine.

 

 

Some random thoughts…

That sappy George H Bush slogan, a kinder and gentler nation actually rings true at MD Anderson.

My Cancer song 🎶 was “The End of the Line”, 🚂 by the Traveling Willburys. George Harrison, Petty, Bob Dylan and Orbison. Simple tune about life and death and doing the best you can. I found it very positive and must have listened to it 100 times. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UMVjToYOjbM

Genes, smoking 🚬, alcohol 🥃 are major causes. My surgeon said that they are seeing more cancers developing and cells splitting and doing odd things from weight issues.

We have a serious medical professional shortage coming. Lots are older, stress high and endless boomers who are going to need their care. We need immigrants in these fields to fill the void. In the video I hugged Nurse Nikky who assisted Dr. Matin and was present from day 1. She has this soft light voice she represented a thank you to everyone at MD Anderson C̶A̶N̶C̶E̶R̶ Center who helped me.

My Mom had a great attitude and a tougher recovery. She was super positive but allowed herself to feel bad once a week.

The one gift 💝 of cancer is understanding mortality, others that are sick, and older people better. It helps putting yourself in other shoes even more.

I think we all judge others too fast when we don’t know really what is going on in that person’s world. I think it’s good to give that person the benefit of the doubt that something difficult may have just occurred.

Larry David on this seasons Curb said Stage 3 Cancer gets only 25% wisdom so take my jumbled thoughts with that grain of salt 🧂. 🙃

In all seriousness, I was lucky. I moved on it quickly. Went to the right place. Love from Veronica, my parents, our kids, close friends, family, Craig, Blake and Sara at work, stress down and positive attitude play a role. All that is critical but luck of where the cancer spreads plays the biggest part.

If you or someone you know ever needs to talk or listen, please reach out at [email protected] or 561-346-8383. I’d love to help.

 

 

 

Jeff Lichtenstein, originally from Chicago, got his start in the home furnishings textile business where he traveled over 35 weeks a year selling fabrics. After the family business was sold, Jeff moved to Florida and became a real estate agent. Today he is the owner and broker of Echo Fine Properties, a luxury residential brokerage voted best brokerage of the year. Jeff manages a non-traditional model of real estate that mimics a traditional business model. Echo has 80 agents, an average of one million dollars per transaction and over 500 million in annual sales. Between traveling for work and annual family trips to national parks with his wife and 2 now adult children, Jeff has visited 49 states. He is also one of the few Chicago White Sox fans you’ll ever meet.  Some publications he has been quoted in.

Author of business & leadership book How Making a Sandwich Can Change Your World –  The Amazing Success of the PB&J Strategy – Available to Buy Now!

Feel free to ask him a question directly at [email protected] including a complementary  valuation of your home.

 

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Posted in Open House Blog on March 14, 2024 at 12:06 pm.

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