Terry Tucker, among many things, is an author, motivational speaker, former police officer, former SWAT hostage negotiator, and a cancer warrior. Over the course of his life, Terry has worked and succeeded in many areas of life and across multiple vocations. Terry played Division I NCAA college basketball, worked in the corporate world (in marketing, administration, and customer service), became a Cincinnati police officer at the age of 37, worked as a security consultant, basketball coach, and recently as a motivational speaker after having been diagnosed and treated for cancer for the past 9 years.
In this episode, Terry and I discuss how and why he wrote the book, what it was like for him to become a police officer and SWAT hostage negotiator at the age of 37, how he dealt with his brutal cancer treatment, and what it all means for him now.
Throughout his professional life, Terry has found himself having to relearn and remaster new skills and attitudes for dealing with the unique demands and challenges of each career. Throughout all of this, though, Terry has found that excellence in any field of endeavour is possible if one has the right mindset, support system, and willingness to learn. From this, he has recently written a book called Sustainable Excellence, Ten Principles to Leading Your Uncommon and Extraordinary Life where he outlines his findings to help people achieve greatness in their lives.
In many ways, I believe I am just like any of the billions of people existing on this planet.
I have reinvented myself frequently over my professional career. After I graduated from college at The Citadel (where I played NCAA Division I basketball), I was employed in the Marketing Department at the corporate headquarters of Wendy’s International in Dublin, Ohio. From there, I worked in hospital administration for Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. After getting married and moving to California for my wife’s job, I became the Customer Service Manager for an academic publishing company in Santa Barbara. After our daughter was born and we moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, I became a police officer with the Cincinnati Police Department, where I was a SWAT Hostage Negotiator. Following a family relocation to Texas, I started a school security consulting business and coached high school girls basketball in Houston. Each time I took on a new job, I had to develop new skills and faced different challenges. There was always a significant learning curve with every new position.
But my greatest challenge began in early 2012 when I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Acral Lentiginous Melanoma, which presented on the bottom of my foot. By the time the melanoma was detected, it had metastasized to a lymph node in my groin. Because my cancer is so rare (only about 6,500 people are diagnosed with this form of malignancy in the U.S. each year), I was treated at the world-renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center. I had two surgeries to remove the tumors, and after I healed, I was put on a weekly injection of the drug, Interferon, to help keep the disease from coming back.
I took those weekly injections for four years and seven months before the Interferon became so toxic to my body that I ended up in the Intensive Care Unit with a fever of 108 degrees. Fortunately, expert medical care saved my life.
The Interferon gave me severe flu-like symptoms for two to three days after each injection. I lost fifty pounds during my therapy, was constantly nauseous, fatigued, and chilled, my ability to taste food significantly diminished, and my body constantly ached. This misery went on for over 1,660 days!
One thing I learned during all my pain and suffering is that you have two choices. You can succumb to the debilitating discomfort and misery, or you can learn to embrace it and use it to make you a stronger and better human being. I chose the latter.
There were times I felt so poorly and was in so much agony that I prayed to die. Each day was a struggle to use my mind to override my body’s apathy and distress.
I realize pain and discomfort can beat you to your knees and keep you there if you let it. But I also came to appreciate that I could use my hurting and anguish to make me stronger and more resolute.
I was no better at dealing with pain and discomfort than the next person. But every day, I found a way to survive, with the knowledge that I would need to do it again the following morning.
I recently wrote a book, entitled Sustainable Excellence, Ten Principles to Leading Your Uncommon and Extraordinary Life, to help people find and live their uncommon and extraordinary life. The ten principles outlined in the book will provide the bedrock necessary to form the foundation of unshakable beliefs and dedicated behaviors to reinforce your attitude, no matter how much pain you must endure or how many obstacles you must overcome. My hope is that people who read the book will lead a life of significance, as well as a life of success.
I understand what it is like to fight for your life and one thing I’ve learned is that as long as you don’t quit, you can never be defeated.