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Jun 29, 2017

Harvey recently took a position as a part time baseball coach at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN. On their first day of meetings Harvey humbly stood there taking notes, staying alert and observant. After introducing himself and saying a few words to the team a fellow assistant coach leaned over to Harvey, looked him in the eyes coldly and said, “We don’t F@#$ around here.” Oh Boy. Ol’ Marty may or may not have made a little oopsies in his baseball pants after hearing that. Harv chewed on this for a while nervously wondering what he had gotten himself into. As the meeting ended the assistant coach walked back over to Harvey with a stern look on his face. He leaned in, smiled, and said, “I’m just messing with you.”

Ladies and Gentleman meet Troy Deden. This blunt, dry, non-filtered delivery is a big  part of Troy’s make-up and as you will see and hear, plays a huge role in his approach to not only coaching, but life’s ups and downs as well.

Troy is currently an assistant baseball coach at Augsburg College where he has been for the past 11 years. Beyond that Troy is a Special Education Assistant at one of Minneapolis’s ‘rougher’ schools where he works with students experiencing emotional and behavioral issues.

As a 22 year old Troy was enjoying the summer of a lifetime. Living with his buddies, playing baseball, responsibilities were somewhat minimal, possibilities of summertime folly were endless. A weird cold had been lingering for months and then came a trivial yearly trip to the dentist. Ready to get his teeth cleaned Troy’s dentist informed him that she could not work on his teeth. His gums would just not stop bleeding. Happens right? Don’t even bother asking Mart the last time he flossed.

This led Troy to the doctor’s office where they took some blood tests. They had to send him to another clinic with the parting words of, “Well it’s either Mono or Leukemia.” Huh? After some further tests at a different clinic a doctor walked in and calmly told Troy, “Mr. Deden you have acute myelogenous leukemia, and we’re going to start chemotherapy today.” Whoa. At this point there could be a great variety of reactions to this news; crying, shock, terror, fainting, anger, confusion. All of these reactions are certainly warranted. Our man Troy elected to respond with, “Ok, what’s next?” This term is going to become a very common theme as Troy makes his way through this chapter in his journey.

“Mr. Deden you have a 40% chance of survival.” “Ok, sweet, those numbers mean absolutely nothing to me, what’s next, let’s move on, let’s move on.” Numbers and percentages fell on deaf ears to Troy. “I can’t control what’s happening right now. If I could control it I wouldn’t have gotten cancer, but you can’t actually control those things. So for me it became, ok, I can control how I feel about this.”

Never once in Troy’s story was there any sort of wallowing or self pity. Never once was there any sort of doubt. Never once did he play out what-if scenarios in his mind.Through two separate bouts with cancer, both of which coming with intense and nasty chemotherapy, radiation sessions, a bone marrow biopsy (think biting two popsicle sticks while a doctor screws an auger into your back), and a bone marrow transplant, his ‘Ok, what’s next’ mentality allowed Troy to keep his feet planted firmly on the ground and his mind firmly focused on the next step; not one month down the road, not a year down the road, but the next day.

Troy’s story is more atypical than what the listeners may be used to but it is certainly more powerful, and though we are all living by the stories we are currently writing we do not have to be defined by a certain chapter. Valuable lessons can be learned from these chapters though and so Troy humbly and graciously waded his way into the FishBowl to share one of his. We are most thankful that he did.