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One More Day

Jerry Maguire was a brash sports agent representing a player for the Arizona Cardinals, wide receiver Rod Tidwell, who demanded a lavish contract. The player demanded a $10 million compensation “for his family to live on."

In this iconic 1996 movie, Tom Cruise (Jerry) focused all of his time and energy on Rod (Cuba Gooding Jr.) to navigate the byzantine world of sports salaries. The agent and the player had a bitter, contentious relationship, and negotiations with the front office did not go smoothly.

In a moment of total desperation Rod tells Jerry, “Show me the money” or we will part ways. To paraphrase Rod: No more mister nice guy, no platitudes, I want results I want to see the check.

But is life all about money?

Diamond Rio is an iconic American country music band founded in 1982. Everything changed for the group when their song “One More Day” reached the top of the music charts. The song was initially written as a love song, but the significance dramatically changed with the crash of Oklahoma State's basketball team, the loss of Dale Earnhardt, the race car driver in 2001, and then the tragedy of 9/11.

The poignant lyrics focused on dealing with loss and life and healing and hope. I cannot reprint any lyrics here without permission. But I think we all know them.

Unlike Jerry Maguire, the theme from the song was not about money but about having additional time with people who mean something to us. And as a medical oncologist and hospice and palliative medicine physician, I can relate to the anguish of loved ones hoping for one more day with their spouse, partner, companion, beloved pet, or loved one.

How can we get one more day?

We can take ownership, we can become engaged, we can use information to prolong our lives. We now know from a Harvard study that 8 out of 10 of cardiovascular events in women such as strokes and heart attacks could be prevented if women followed these life-saving measures:

  • Do not smoke.

  • Eat a healthy diet.

  • Exercise more than 30 minutes a day.

  • Maintain an ideal body weight.

  • Use alcohol moderately, if at all.

Yet we know that more than 95% of women do not follow these measures, and I suspect the figures would be similar for men.

And what can we learn from this study? We can learn our ABCs and this comes from a long-term study of Harvard graduates.

[By the way on a personal note, I applied to Harvard. I was rejected in 72 hours! I was outraged. My high school adviser told me, “You are not that smart anyway. Deal with it and move on.” So I did and achieved some measure of success anyway.]

Bottom line, the take-home message is this:

A. Be ACTIVE. This means walking approximately 30 minutes a day for most days of the week. If the weather is not cooperative, find a friend and go to a mall.

B. BE engaged, be curious. Sign up for that course at the senior citizen center; see what the community college offers. Learn a new skill that might be on a computer, photography, history. Write a book.

C. CONNECT with COMMUNITY. We survived on the blistering plains of Africa by living in clans and families. Pick up that phone, send that email and connect. Invite someone to lunch (or for that walk).

No need to hope for one more day because you will buy yourself plenty of days.

Photo from Unsplash.

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