Rocked But Never Defeated In The Fight To End Cancer | Featuring Bobby Umar
“Cancer affects us all. Admittedly it was more removed from me because it was not a common South Asian (i.e. brown guy) thing growing up. We mostly dealt with Diabetes and Heart Disease. But there have been significant moments where Cancer has literally rocked me.”
Everyone has a story, purpose, and a legacy. Here’s Bobby’s cancer story…
Vincent Fazari was a student of mine at Shad Valley. He was 16. He got testicular cancer at 19 and shared his journey with us. Over a one year period he joked about being our ‘half-nuts pal’ but I couldn’t believe how much he shared vulnerability, authenticity and more. It was one of the first times I experienced that aspect of it. When he sent a courier text email that he had beat cancer, yelling “V is for Victory, V is for Vince”, I started crying at my desk. But the story didn’t end. His cancer spread and after another 18 months, he died. At his funeral, all the Shad students from his program (there were 54 in total from across Canada and Scotland), over 30 showed up. We decided to do something and I led a group to form a bursary in his name, which still runs today.
Dan Stolfi was my performance colleague from Fade to Brown my sketch comedy troupe. Two weeks after we shot our TV pilot for Omni he was diagnosed with cancer. Six months later at his birthday party he was so weak, but so full of gratitude. He shared that, but felt like he was going to die, and we were all helpless and terrified that someone would lose his fight at 25. Against the odds he made it. He beat it. He started a one-man show called “Cancer Can’t Dance Like This” and it won rave awards. He taught about expressing love and gratitude at all times
The Omar Family. Growing up my parent’s best friends were the Omar family. Amreen was one year younger than me and Aslam was two years younger. We grew up together like siblings. We all went to McGill together. Aslam lived in downtown Toronto, got married and had 3 young kids. He actually had cancer as a child but beat this. This time, the cancer invaded really fast. He was going to meet me for lunch when he said he had to postpone to go to the hospital. Six weeks later I got the awful call. I went straight to the hospital. I saw his three little kids, aged 2, 5 and 8 and sat down by his bed and just sobbed uncontrollably. I just lost the closest person I had to a little brother besides my own. I wrote about it in a tribute on Facebook (view tribute)
My Family: While both my parent in-laws had dealt with and beat cancer, that was before I knew them. However, Cancer is now seeping into my own extended family, some of them are dealing with it, and a part of us are freaking out about it. We feel more vulnerable and mortal than ever before.
About Bobby Umar
Bobby Umar is one of the most prolific, heart-based leaders in North America. Inc Magazine named him one of the Top 100 Leadership Speakers, alongside such noteworthy giants as Richard Branson, Brene Brown, John Maxwell and Robin Sharma. Bobby is a 4x TEDx speaker, and one of the top tweeters in the world, with over 450,000 social media followers. He has been named the 2nd best business coach to follow on Twitter and the 4th best leadership influencer according to Kred. Bobby is an international author of three books, including a #1 best seller, and is a Huffington Post contributor. He hosts a weekly tweetchat called “The Power of Connection” that has reached over 65 million impressions weekly. To date, his social media influence has garnered over 1 billion impressions. Bobby was also named a “2015 Speaker to Watch” by the National Speakers Bureau and Global Speakers Agency. Most recently, he was named a Top 7 Networking Guru to follow.
A social media advocate, who champions authentic connection and heart-based leadership, Bobby has appeared on dozens of podcasts, TV & radio shows. He has a background in brand marketing (Kraft & Unilever), engineering (Bombardier) and the performing arts (Second City). Bobby has led Raeallan for over a decade and is now a recognized thought leader in Networking, Social Media and Personal Branding. He founded the DYPB – Discover Your Personal Brand conference, the largest event in North America dedicated solely to personal branding, featuring 60 experts and over 300 delegates. 100,000+ people from across the world have experienced Bobby’s high-energy keynotes, interactive teambuilding activities, and engaging workshops.
Bobby continues the Fight To End Cancer in honour of his friends and family affected by the disease. We want to thank him once again for taking the time to share her story with us.