Red Sox John Farrell Has New Outlook After Cancer


Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell has been cleared to work after successful cancer treatments. Yet, lymphoma has changed how he will approach everything from now on.

Ian Browne of covered the broadcast of Farrell’s interview with Tim McMaster, discussing baseball and non-baseball parts of Farrell’s life. Sometimes, it can be difficult discussing serious matters such as cancer, especially with the former patients; however, Farrell was stoic and understood how Red Sox Nation would want to know how he’s doing from a professional as well as personal level.

It was October 22nd that Farrell got the news that his Stage 1 lymphoma was in remission. Even though that gave him clearance to go back to work, Farrell said, “I can’t say that there was a major shift once the scan came back clean […] I had been doing things even as I was receiving treatment. Year-end meetings with individual players, I was present in those. The shift was a sense of relief from being having it be determined I was in remission. Since then, it’s just been gaining stamina and strength.”

With friends and family supporting him, Farrell’s journey would have been quite similar to every other patient who had good news to tell. Yet, there was a significant twist in the narrative that Farrell was very appreciative for coming into his life at the time. Browne explains:

"“Farrell made new friends during the process, including the late Flip Saunders. On the day Farrell announced he had lymphoma, Saunders asked a Minnesota sportswriter if he could track down Farrell’s phone number through a Boston sportswriter. Saunders had revealed his own lymphoma diagnosis just three days earlier, though his was more advanced by the time it was detected. Saunders got in touch with Farrell immediately and checked in often.”"

Saunders, the head coach of the NBA basketball team the Minnesota Timberwolves, died three days after Farrell was told his good news. Farrell said that it was a sign for him about how close he came to his own mortality and how Saunders putting his own problem aside to help Farrell was going to change everything.

Farrell said, “So many people reached out to me, now it’s my repaying of what I received.”

How many of us get up in the morning with a groan, instead of a smile? How many of us think to kiss our significant others before going to work but rush out of the door because we are consumed by how much work we’ve put on our own plates? The distractions, the obstacles, the annoying guy in the office who can’t stop telling you about his weekend while you’re trying to crunch out some semblance of productivity: it can get to you. It feels like life is just getting in the way of your goals everywhere you turn.

Then, you go to the doctor and she tells you that you’ve got cancer and that you need treatment right away. How does your workday look now?

You could go into the fetal position and just give up, angrily blaming the world for all of the pain and anguish that you feel that you don’t deserve. Or you could look around and see how others get through it, not by isolation but by looking outside of yourself.

Saunders didn’t look at his own diagnosis and shut himself up in a cone of seclusion; he looked for how he could help someone else, like Farrell, in a similar position while he still had the time. He made choices that made his life worth living, even if it was to be cut down too short for his own liking. He found the strength to care more about his family and friends than any form of self-pity. That decision helped Farrell through his own issue with cancer and brought him to the end of the tunnel successfully.

Farrell may have made it out from under the black mask of death without Saunders, but it was the basketball coach’s action that showed Farrell what is important: the little things in life. Farrell’s excitement for the new season in the interview stems from that awareness. Besides being happy to still be with his family, of course, he must also be thinking of all the things he overlooked while stressing over being the manager of one of the most historic franchises in all of sports. Think of all the issues that he could have helped with by just supporting and involving himself in the lives of his players and coaching staff when they needed him.

The pressures of Fenway Park, guiding the Red Sox and the city of Boston through the 2016 MLB campaign, will seem like a cakewalk compared to what he has just gone through. The point to remember is how that will be accomplished. Farrell could go back to work like nothing happened, as the cancer problem seems to be gone. However, the way that Saunders helped him through it will always remain with him.

Now, Farrell understands how the little ways that you conduct yourself impact others greatly and he will look to repay Saunders by doing the same for his players, his friends, his family, and the fans.

Now, they all have Farrell to look up to when they feel stressed with the problems that life dishes out. The support that he gave, going to games and watching the team play through a miserable 2015 season, should carry some weight. Farrell could have stayed home and isolated himself from the team until he was cancer-free, but he wanted to help the club any way that he could. How can a player give up on trying to fix his swing at the plate or his mechanics on the mound when Farrell was there supporting them while fighting off cancer?

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So, the next time you find yourself rushing out of the door, just stop for a minute and kiss your significant other like it’s your last day on the planet. Hug your kids as if you are going on an extended work-related venture and won’t see them for a very long time. Give that annoying co-worker a chance to tell you about his weekend (at least for five minutes). You never know if it will be the last time you ever get to see them or hear from them again. You also never know how much that love, kindness, and attention means to them and their own plaguing issues.

We’re all dealing with something in our lives. It’s much easier, though, if we deal with those issues together.