Larry Hogan is governor of Maryland.
When I became governor of Maryland, I knew I would be faced with a number of serious challenges. But I never imagined that riots and cancer would be among them.
Just 90 days after I became governor, Maryland grappled with rioting in Baltimore, the worst violence in the state in 47 years. Sixty days later, I was hit with the devastating news that I had an advanced and aggressive cancer.
I went from being focused on how to turn our economy around and put people back to work to hearing doctors describe how non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma had spread throughout my body. Nothing could prepare me for how the next few months would unfold.
But since that scary diagnosis, my family and I have received a truly amazing outpouring of encouragement from our fellow Marylanders, as well as from people around the country and around the world.
I have read every single note. I have teared up over the “get well” artwork that schoolchildren tucked into bursting envelopes. I met with Pope Francis and received his blessing on behalf of cancer patients around the world. Country star Tim McGraw even dedicated a performance of his song “Live Like You Were Dying” to me.
Such acts of kindness have kept me strong and my spirits high, and they’re undoubtedly among the reasons I’m on the road to recovery. Having a support system while undergoing cancer treatment is necessary. I am eternally grateful.
This experience has been one of the most difficult challenges I have faced in my life. The pain, anxiety and exhaustion that cancer causes — for patients and loved ones alike — are indescribable.
But every time my wife, Yumi, and I have stepped inside the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore for my treatments, we have been reminded that we are not alone in this fight. In the faces of the children and families we visited in the oncology ward of the children’s hospital, I saw so much courage, perseverance and hope.
And when they saw me (and my newly bald head), well, they just saw another guy with cancer: a fellow dad, son, brother, uncle, grandfather or friend — not a governor.
Young or old, black or white, rich or poor — cancer does not discriminate, and it certainly doesn’t care what you do for a living or whether you have a state to run.
All of us in the cancer ward were in it together, balancing our everyday lives and responsibilities with new and unexpected challenges: fatigue, searing pain, bouts of nausea and the loss of our hair, down to our eyelashes. The strength of my fellow patients was a continuous source of inspiration, as were the incredibly hard-working doctors and nurses who took such wonderful care of me and who are literally saving lives every day.
I don’t know what the future holds, but one thing is certain: In spite of this challenge, I will never give up and will never stop working hard to change Maryland for the better.
Yumi and I fully recognize how blessed we are to have the support of not only our family and friends but also an entire state. And in recognizing this, we can’t help but think of the thousands of other families fighting this same battle who may not have the benefit of the prayers and encouragement that we have received.
I humbly ask that those who support me also remember the thousands of others facing seemingly insurmountable odds. They are just as deserving of your prayers, love and support.
And please don’t forget those who are fighting battles of other kinds: of disability, addiction, loneliness or whatever it may be. Do what you can, whether it’s volunteering your time to help patients, making a donation to a worthy charity, preparing meals for a family in need or simply saying a prayer. No act of kindness is too small. It really does make a difference.