Ironman Alex – a Solemn, Yet Substantial Teacher

You could tell by how the doctors and nurses responded that the prognosis wasn’t good.

I have never seen a team move so fast to discharge a patient. But the team at Tampa General Hospital understood how valuable time was for my mother. They did their best to soften the blow of the words “brain cancer” but their reaction made it clear her time was limited. Very limited.

Doctors called the cancer Glioblastoma Multiforme, or GBM for short.

Until about a month prior, Sandy J. Andes had been an-outgoing bubbly woman who was incredibly fit for 72.  Then she started to become reclusive and her speech slurred. Seizures were the next signs.  The seizures started small; at first, they seemed to be nothing more than a vein throbbing on her face. Odd maybe, but seemingly harmless.

These trivial indicators quickly escalated.

That is why I was so touched to hear about Ironman Alex.

He is a young man who looks to be about 10, who has a smile that is undoubtedly more powerful than his slender frame.  Just before America was hit with COVID-19, Alex was hit with brain cancer.

Most of us would respond to the news by doing everything we ever wanted. We also might prepare things for our loved ones after we are gone. Then there are those, like my mother who choose to fight like hell. Alex was the same. he was going to give every ounce he had to fighting cancer. I am guessing that’s where the name “Ironman Alex” came from.

But it’s what he did next that literally took my breath away.

He began collecting toys. Not for himself (though who could blame him if wanted to try out new toys in short order.) He was collecting toys for children who don’t have any; specifically, children in hospitals fighting COVID who are forced to be alone in their fight.

The significance of that can be put another way: Ironman Alex was giving his last weeks and months looking out for others. He was helping those less fortunate.

My breath shuttered as I tried to take in air.  And almost just as quick a tear came rolling down my face. I have always wanted to live a life that matters. Who doesn’t, right? But here, this young man was doing it.

He was accomplishing in life what many of us hope we could achieve.

I realized that at the age of 49, I had a lot of catching up to do.

Thank you, Alex for reminding me of the lesson that is more important than anything I could ever write.

If you wish to help Ironman Alex in his quest here is a link to his Go Fund Me page and his Facebook page.