A 35-year-old Google employee with Stage 4 cancer has a sobering message about not taking life for granted (GOOG)

scott riddle google colon cancer

  • Scott Riddle’s life was suddenly upended after being being diagnosed with metastatic cancer.
  • The 35-year-old Google employee is coming to terms with the fact that he may never see his three children grow up.
  • He’s now urging people not to take their lives for granted, or to assume they still have decades ahead of them.

A few days ago, Scott Riddle sat down at his computer and began to write.

Just three weeks before, the 35-year-old Google employee had received life-changing news. He had been diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, and was coming to terms with the fact that he may well never see his three children, aged five, three, and a few months old, grow up.

As he grappled with the news, he wrote a 1,200-word piece on blogging platform Medium, titled: “I’m 35 and I may suddenly have lost the rest of my life. I’m panicking, just a bit.”

“I don’t even know why I did that Medium post, I had that urge to just sit down and just write about it,” Riddle told Business Insider in an interview over Skype from his family’s home in Australia.

The hastily written post detailed the discovery of his disease, his cloudy prognosis, and life lessons it had brought sharply into focus. He expected just a few people to see it — but more than 70,000 people have already read the post, and he has been shocked by an outpouring of support from strangers around the world.

At the heart of the post sits a very simple message: “Stop just assuming you have a full lifetime to do whatever it is you dream of doing.”

‘Life was good’

“Just three weeks ago,” Riddle wrote, “life was good. The newest edition to our family had arrived on Christmas Eve, joining his two sisters aged 5 and 3. A month later we were on a plane home to Sydney, having spent four great years working for Google in California.”

He had a new job lined up with Google, after working in strategy and operations for six and a half years in the US, while his wife had found a job with a logistics startup.

Then on July 19 he went for a visit to the doctor’s. Riddle had “noticed a bit of unusual bleeding … and very recently a change in bowel habit.”

The GP “didn’t even say he thought it could be cancer,” he told me, just that “you need to go for a colonoscopy.” But Riddle had been doing some research about the symptoms and possible causes beforehand — among them, cancer. “Suddenly all these images passed through my head.”

And then he fainted.

google office sydney

His chances are no better than ’50/50′

The following Monday, he went for the colonoscopy, where a doctor identified what appeared to be a cancerous lesion. It was subsequently confirmed as Stage 4 metastatic colon cancer — indicating it had spread to elsewhere in his body.

“It kind of feels like this wave coming up,” he said of receiving the news. “At first you take it in a very matter-of-fact way and you’re just digesting the information like another piece of data. Like ‘okay, I get that, I see what you’re saying.’

“And then you kinda find yourself tuning out as [the doctor] keeps talking, because suddenly the other part of your mind is racing to think of the implications. The risks. What it means for your family, what it means for your job, and what it means for your life.”

And just like that, his life changed forever.

Riddle is currently on a treatment of chemotherapy and radiation, with plans for surgery, and currently doesn’t even feel ill — just a little tired, he said. But his condition in the months ahead may change.

“Stage 4 however is not too good at all. Doctors use ‘survival curves’  —  survival statistics for people with your cancer and your stage of progression  —  to provide some kind of prognosis. In my case, most published survival curves suggest that only 10% of people are still alive 5 years post diagnosis,” he wrote in his blog post.

“Now, I’ve since learned that there are many reasons not to focus too much on these statistics. My prognosis is likely better (none of my doctors will venture a guess) but it is no better than 50/50. And even if I live beyond 5 years, my life expectancy as a survivor of metastatic cancer will almost certainly be much curtailed.”

‘Stop just assuming you have a full lifetime ‘

“I’ve noticed so many times in the last few weeks, I’m sitting on a train going back to the hospital and I overhear the kind of commuter conversations that you always overhear on a train,” Riddle told Business Insider. “You know, people getting ready for a meeting or someone’s dialed into a teleconference early from the train or something and I just think, ‘my gosh’ …”

He trailed off, temporarily lost for words.

“Some of the conversations I’m hearing seem so insignificant. Are you going to live, are you not, are you gonna be able to spend another year with your kids, are you going to see your wife, are you going to be able to help your parents as they get older? All of these really, really deep things that you don’t think about day-to-day, and suddenly when they’re threatened they’re the things you’re most scared of losing.”

It’s this message that Riddle felt compelled to share, and sits at the heart of his blog post: You can’t take for granted that you’ve got your full life ahead of you.

And there’s a more down-to-earth side of it too: Get tested. “On the very pragmatic level … take this stuff seriously, no matter what age you are whether it’s a lump on your balls, or something in your boobs, or whatever, not necessarily colon cancer, but just take that stuff seriously.”

Here’s an excerpt from what he wrote (emphasis ours):

“One of the things I’m struggling most with is this concept of legacy. I’m a planner. Before this diagnosis I’d been thinking of my 1st 35 years — aside from being a ton of fun and travel — as preparation. I felt like I was building a platform (savings, networks, skills, experience) that I could then use in my second act to make a real contribution, to ‘make my mark’, to build a real legacy for my kids. Perhaps that was a mistake on my part, because I may have no time to do that now. I guess I’m panicking a little.

“I feel like I have so many messages to deliver to the blissful masses from my now precarious vantage point, from the importance of early precautionary doctor visits to the merits of life insurance. But putting pragmatism aside, there is one thing I’d urge everyone to do. Stop just assuming you have a full lifetime to do whatever it is you dream of doing. I know it sounds ridiculously cliched, and of course you never think it will happen to you, but let me assure you that life really can be taken from you at any time, so live it with that reality in mind.”

sydney

The Riddle family plans have been thrown into doubt

One of the main reasons the Riddle family moved back to Australia was that they planned to buy land and set up their own farm. A question mark now sits over that plan, as Scott Riddle wrestles with the best cause of action. Should he create the farm, so it can act as a legacy for his family if he doesn’t make it — or would it risk unnecessarily burdening them?

The father-of-three also hoped to start his own business one day, but now has no idea if he’ll be able to.

He described a strange duality to his life: Carrying on, expecting to live — while also preparing for if the worst should happen. He has taken time off work (“Google’s been awesome,” he said, praising the company’s benefits package) as he sorts out his priorities and works out next steps.

“As I understand it, when you have metastatic cancer, even if I get to the end and they say ‘okay you’re all clear,’ you’re kind of never really clear if you’ve had metastatic cancer … lets say I get to the other end in January, I pop out the other side of two surgeries and chemo and radiation and they say all clear,” then he still needs to come back for frequent check-ups for the rest of his life.

“It’s going to be really interesting: How do you manage time and priorities in a situation where you can never really plan beyond 6 months or beyond a year? … I’m totally going to have to change my way of thinking, because I’ve always been a 30-year kind of guy. I was always like, ‘by the time I get here I’m going to have done x, y, and z, whereas now it’s going to be like: ‘Okay I should be good for another year, or good for another two years.”

There has been a huge wave of support from across the web

The 35-year-old said he wrote the blog post in about 15 minutes, barely even proof-reading it before he posted it online — only going back to edit it later. But it clearly resonated, with tens of thousands of people reading it and commenting on Medium, Facebook, LinkedIn, and across the web.

“Scott, I’m not connected to you nor have we met but this story has moved me completely. I am literally sitting here in tears,” one message Riddle received said. “Your words have had a profound impact and from this day forward I’ll be getting regular health checks, abusing my body less (shitty foods and booze), getting fitter and seizing the day with a pep in my step from dawn to dusk. I’ll cuddle my kids just that little bit longer and tighter, I’ll whine less and I’ll love that little bit more. Thank you for wearing your heart on your sleeve and sharing the story with the world.”

The Australian never expected this outpouring of support, but hopes people will take it as a lesson.

“In your day-to-day [life] it’s a fact that you end up not focusing on the things that are most important, and every now and then a little reminder that things can turn out in very unexpected ways, it’s good. Most of the people who saw that Medium post and added a comment and were affected by it on that day … they’ve probably forgotten about it by the end of the week,” he said.

“But it’s sitting somewhere in their minds, yeah. If I can help people with that, even momentarily, or if it plants a seed in their mind to make a different decision or something, then at least some good comes of it.”

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    The 32 apps that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has on his iPhone 7

    Zlatan Legends

    There’s no denying the apps that people have on their phone reveal a lot about them and footballers are no exception.

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the third richest footballer in the world, told Business Insider that he has 32 apps on his iPhone 7 — excluding the standard Apple apps that come preinstalled such as Mail, Calendar, and Apple Music.

    The selection of apps on the Swedish star’s iPhone highlights his love for games, social media, news, and of course, football.

    One of the most recent apps to make its way onto Ibrahimovic’s iPhone is “Zlatan Legends,” a game he made with Swedish studio ISBIT Games that officially went live on the App Store on Thursday. Ibrahimovic is himself the star of the new arcade sports game, which is available to download for free.

    In an interview with Business Insider ahead of the launch, Ibrahimovic said: “I’ve spent a lot of hours, a lot of years on games and now I have the opportunity to make my own. For me, this is a small dream come true.”

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    19. Warp Shift
    20. Hitman Sniper
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    23. Omni (Swedish News App)
    24. BBC News
    25. BBC Sports
    26. Bleacher Report
    27. Premier League
    28. ESPNFC
    29. UFC
    30. MMA Underground
    31. Moves
    32. Zlatan Legends

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      Mercedes-Maybach just unveiled a stunning convertible concept car to rival Tesla

      Mercedes Maybach Vision 6 cabriolet

      On Friday, Mercedes-Maybach unveiled its new Vision 6 Cabriolet concept at the 2017 Monterey Car Week in Monterey, California.

      The stunning drop top is the ultimate embodiment of the Mercedes’ Sensual Purity design philosophy. The concept melds classic automotive design element with a sleek futuristic aesthetic.

      “The Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet takes modern luxury into the realms of the ultimate in luxury and is the perfect embodiment of our design strategy. Breathtaking proportions combined with a luxurious “haute couture” interior help to create the ultimate experience,” Gorden Wagener, Daimler AG chief design officer, said in a statement. 

      The all-electric drop top continues Mercedes’ push towards alternative propulsion. The Maybach was introduced shortly after the company’s AMG division unveiled its new hypercar’s 1,000 horsepower Formula One-derived hybrid drivetrain. 

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      With its long hood, the Vision evokes imagery of the splendid luxury cabriolets of the 30s, 40s, and 50s.

      The boat tail harkens back to the looks of classic luxury yachts.

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        Apple fans prepare yourselves: One of the original Apple I computers is going up for auction in September

        steve wozniak

        Apple fanatics around the world will soon have a chance to bid on one of the original Apple computers.

        The Apple I is being put up for sale by David Larson, a former Virginia Tech professor who bought the computer from Adam Schoolsky in 1994 for $3500. Schoolsky was a friend of Apple cofounders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who gave him the computer as a gift.

        The computer, built by Wozniak in 1976, will be auctioned off by online auction house Charitybuzz starting on September 12. All proceeds will go to FAIRS, a Virginia-based non-profit that helps groups in developing countries put together emergency radio systems. 

        The computer’s auction lot will also include the original letter Larson received from Schoolsky in 1994; a promotional brochure for the Apple I and Apple II computers; and the first issue of the “Silicon Gulch Gazette,” an early PC industry publication, that was published in 1977.

        The lot also includes a drawing by Ron Wayne, Apple’s little-known third cofounder. Wayne designed the original Apple logo, wrote the Apple I manual, and drew the Apple I schematic diagrams.

        And it includes something that’s rarer than even the computer itself, an Apple I cassette interface card. Early PC’s often stored programs and data on cassette tapes; the card allowed an owner to connect a cassette recorder to the Apple I. The majority of original Apple owners never purchased the card, and many of the remaining Apple I in existence lack one. 

        Apple-I  computer.JPGLast but not least, the lot comes with a copy of a flyer from what’s known as the Zaltair hoax. The flyer dates back to the 1977 West Coast Computer Faire, where Wozniak, who loved pranks, and Schoolsky printed up a couple thousand brochures advertising a non-existent “Zaltair” computer that was supposed to be cheaper and better than any other on the market. No one could figure out who was behind the brochure, and the duo made quite the commotion among all of the computer enthusiasts at the event. 

        Dubbed the Schoolsky Apple-I, the computer that’s up for auction still technically works, but it needs a serious computer fiend just to turn it on. Like most of the earliest computers, it requires an external power source and a separate keyboard.

        Apple made about 175 Apple I computers before discontinuing the model in 1977 in favor of its successor, the Apple II. Only a few dozen Apple I’s are known to be in existence and only a handful remain in working condition. 

        The computers go up for auction from time-to-time and frequently sell for premium prices. One sold at a German auction in May for $130,000.

         

        SEE ALSO: One Of The First Apple Computers Has Sold For $905,000

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