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NEWS | March 12, 2009

A self-fulfilling prophecy

By Master Sgt. Daniel R. Beverly 316th Force Support Squadron first sergeant

"Shootin' at the walls of heartache, bang bang, I am the warrior ... and heart to heart you'll win, if you survive."

I was listening to this song, "The Warrior" by Scandal, featuring Patti Smyth, on my MP3 player the other day as I was working out. This helped motivate me, because I got to thinking about what I have been through for the past several months and how I made it through.

As many of you know, I have been in and out of Walter Reed Medical Center since November 2008 for cancer treatment; specifically for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. First, I had a mass in my spinal column, which compressed my spinal cord and removed sensation from my legs. Although the physicians and nursing staff said it would take me a long time to be able to walk and would require three doses of chemotherapy, I refused to believe it would take that long.

Since I was at least five-years-old, I have been a fighter in some fashion or another. I convinced myself it would not take as long as I had been told. I left the hospital after three weeks, having received only two chemo doses (since those were the two that completely dissolved the mass), and I used a cane to walk only two weeks after my discharge.

After my release, I went back to receive a stem cell transplant. Instead of feeling "out of it" after the procedure - as the physicians explained - I believed I would be up and around afterward, since I had already spent plenty of time sleeping. I wandered the hallway immediately afterwards. I was also told it would take me two to three weeks to start manufacturing my own white blood cells before I could be discharged. I told the docs it would take me seven days. I was wrong - it took me eight. I was discharged two days later.

Here is my point: many of us have, intentionally or not, a self-fulfilling prophecy. The majority of the time it is used in the negative context, whether it has to do with a personal relationship: "I don't think it's going to work out because (fill in the blank)," or even a professional relationship/goal: "I'm not going to be able to accomplish my goals because (fill in the blank)." Human nature is such that it is easier to focus on the negative than it is the positive.

I am convinced that a self-fulfilling prophecy can be developed in the positive context. As soon as it was explained to me that this stem cell transplant could not only put me into complete remission, but could also cure me from lymphoma, I decided I would do what needed to be done and believed I would be cured. I have spent a lifetime taking proper care of myself, why wouldn't I believe it? I have received some scans, been to a doctor's appointment since I received the transplant and been told the scans and my blood tests suggest I am cancer free so far. I have another appointment at which I fully expect I will be officially told this. I completely believe this prophecy will come true.

The positive self-fulfilling prophecy can come true if you believe you can accomplish your own goals. It does indeed require a lot of work on your part in order to accomplish them, much like I had to go through a lot to get through what I just did, but if you convince yourself you will accomplish these goals - trust me when I tell you ... you will accomplish them! This applies at both personal and professional levels.

I would like to thank everyone for helping me accomplish my goal and making my self-fulfilling prophecy come true. From the 779th Medical Group ambulance crew who came to get me in November to the patient liaison, 316th Wing leadership and everyone else who came to visit me and prayed for me over the three-month period I was away from work - thank you. It is because of your thoughts and prayers I am back at work being my normal self.

When I hear that song again on my MP3 player, I will now hear, "... and heart to heart you'll win, when you survive."