The challenge is deciding which story line of my life to write about. For all the great things that have happened, there’s been an almost equal number of bad things. I guess that’s true for most people. All in all, I’m very fortunate.
Beginning when I was 34, I dealt with the reality of Stage 4 colon cancer (it spread to my liver); went through two major surgeries and had two separate chemo treatments over 3 years. This was 18 years ago and my case has been mentioned in a book, I’ve spoken nationally and appeared on TV programs telling my story. Currently, I’m on the board of the Colon Cancer Coalition and was a spokesperson with Olympian Dara Torres for the Colon Cancer Alliance as well as in an ad campaign for MD Anderson.
I’m a marketing guy. Some of my previous roles include the VP of Marketing for Buca di Beppo restaurants and VP Marketing for Del Taco among other restaurants and brands. Later, as an ad agency executive, I helped develop campaigns for brands such as Red Robin, Toshiba Imaging, and others. Now I build brands, brainstorm and create marketing strategies for new and existing restaurant concepts and other small businesses.
It’s a fun life. Having cancer allowed me to become a better person. Yes, it sucked and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone but the support and love from my wife (who is the ultimate reason why I’m still alive) my kids, family and friends is something I’ll never be able to repay.
Here’s another story line.
I helped launch a professional, non-profit theater company 4 years ago in Claremont, CA, my home. It’s a beautiful college town in Southern California known for the various Claremont Colleges. My wife, who is a director and has a Masters in Theater, always wanted to bring quality theater to this part of LA County. We’ve been involved with other theaters in the area but had the dream to present challenging works that “get audiences talking.” If not now, when? So we built Ophelia’s Jump (thanks, Cancer). Our first production was August: Osage County and since then we’ve built a strong reputation with plays such as Clybourne Park, David Mamet’s Boston Marriage, a Summer Shakespeare Festival and others. We bring professional actors, and technicians together and offer internships and opportunities for new playwrights and directors. We were voted best theater company in our first year by a local magazine and have received numerous awards and the support of the community and audiences from Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
If I never had cancer, I don't think we would have taken this leap with Ophelia’s Jump. It’s been a labor of love and our lives are full because of the people we surround ourselves with. Currently we are growing this group and hope to build our own home - a blackbox theater in the future where we can house the arts full time. If you find yourself in our area, I hope you contact me and joins us at Ophelia’s Jump.
If the cancer came back tomorrow and it was all over. I’d be fine. I’m having a great time for as long as it lasts.
All the best to all of you and drop me a line at [email protected] or on Twitter @randylopez.