This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
When the doctors issue you the sentence of imminent death, Would you sit in a corner and Wait for the Grim reaper to come and claim you, or Would you throW caution to the Winds and Go skiinG instead? 19year-old Jothy rosenberg opted for the latter. the loss of a leg and a part of his lung to cancer did not come in the way of his Journey to utah, where he skied for hundred days straight, and returned more alive than ever before. Jothy rosenberg relates to anu gulmohar the amazing tale of how he went on to defy the verdict of doctors and now 36 years later, has been married for 28 years, is father to three children, started six tech companies, participated in seven bike-a-thons and swum across san francisco bay 16 times. his ordeal and courage will now seek to inspire through his book “who says i can’t?”
environment philosophy heroes science travel paranormal sports
Beating life at its
l i f e
w h o s ays i c a n ' t !
think i was a fairly normal, if perhaps a bit of a wilful, kid. nothing spectacular but there were perhaps a few signs that i had some toughness… When i had to face a real and personal crisis, i actually surprised myself at how i handled it. at the age of 19, when the doctor told me no one had survived what had just happened to me, part of me did not accept that because someone of 19 years typically thinks they are immortal. But embedded in my brain from then on was a worry, and it mostly resulted in me living pretty hard and fast and in me taking risks. i figured that if i really was going to die, like they said, i should live it up while i could. i had always had the attitude that i would prove everyone wrong on any limitations they placed on me – whether it was how many days i would have to stay in the hospital, or that i would never ski as well as two-leggers. But i was not trying to prove them wrong about me dying; i was just trying to live better and faster while i could. i lost my leg at 16 in January of that year. in March, before the snow was gone, i insisted my parents take me to a local ski hill. i was not even yet fully healed and my
stump was still sore and swollen. Regardless, i was determined to find out if skiing was going to be off-limits for me. i used regular ski poles as that is all i knew about (later, i would learn that something called outriggers, which are ski poles with little skis on the ends, was the way to go). When i tried to ski a little and take a turn, i would immediately fall to the snow and it would hurt. Then i would get up and try a turn the other way. One turn direction was much harder because it was unnatural to turn to the left with just a left leg. still, while my parents were cringing and trying to get me to stop, i began to see that this really was going to be possible. skiing was the sport i was best at, and i loved it. i really wanted to be able to do it and this early attempt, instead of depressing me, made me elated. no one could see why. But i saw that with super hard work and maniacal focus i could learn this and be good at skiing again. and yes, that gave me a huge lease on life. i was a good swimmer as a kid. My parents got all the kids swimming lessons early on. in junior high, i tried out and made the swimming team and got fairly good at that sport. after the amputation and the loss of a lung i
realised that swimming would be a great sport to keep me fit. it’s really a wonderful sport for someone with any kind of diminished lung capacity because you have to breath slowly (when you turn your head) and deeply. But it was when we lived in California that i got hooked on open water ocean swimming. People were doing triathlons and some friends asked me to be a part of a 3-person triathlon team doing the swim portion. That was a challenge – it was in-
“the mind is stronGer than any disease”
- Dr. sanjay cHugH, senior consultant psycHiatrist
Exercise (of any form) increases the levels of what I would call 'happiness chemical' in the system, leads to weight loss and feeling of fitness. Sports have this incredible power to make anyone feel 'alive'. It is something that I recommend to everyone who comes to me!"
othy's case is not an exception but is evidence to the fact that the power of the mind is stronger than any disease. Sports are a brilliant form of therapy. It enables a person to get distracted from his problem, enhances the concentration levels, increases self-confidence.
timidating at first for someone who had only really swum in a pool with lane markers – i just forced myself to do it, and eventually got to like it more and more. it was many years, when i was in my early 40s that i started biking. i was the CeO of my company and one of my young employees asked me to sponsor her in a fundraising bike ride she planned to do from Boston to new York City. That is a distance of almost 380 miles they would ride in four days to raise money for aiDs research. i liked the cause, and i was amazed it was even possible to ride 85 or more miles per day. i was bragging about what she was doing to one of my staffs and he said to me, “i can see you are excited so it’s really sad that someone with only one leg could never do something like that.” He stunned me with that comment, and i
“individuals can surprise medicine”
es, it is an amazing case. What we normally believe about cancer is that when it spreads, cure is not very easy at all. It is possible in many patients that when there is lung surgery, or sometimes other surgeries, if there are only one or two lesions in these areas, then patients can sometimes be cured. So, maybe because he was a young
- Dr.HarsH Dua, senior oncologist, apollo Hospital
man – he had good overall strength – and because he had good exercise in skiing, it may have helped him indirectly by improving his immune system. He was told that he wouldn’t live long, but most of such prognostics are given on the basis of generalisation. Individuals, sometimes, can beat the odds, and surprise medicine.”
Jothy Rosenberg: (Left) Skiing in France; (Centre) With his wife Carole and dog Gambit; (Above) On his wedding day
looked at him and said, ‘Who says i can’t’ and at that moment i decided no matter what, i would figure out how to do the same ride the next year. i got a bike and started training. first i went 4 miles then 11 then 25 and pretty soon i was ok doing 45 miles in a training ride. By then i was hooked and ten years later i have done the Boston to nYC ride three times, and the 192-mile Pan-Massachusetts Challenge ride across the state of Massachusetts six times. after i had focused on a
sport and worked hard to figure out how to be good at it, i found it very satisfying to be better than some two-leggers. in skiing i would ski down the hill fast and loved to pass people standing around knowing that they would do a double-take when they figured out that i only had one leg. That was a huge confidence builder. for once it meant i did not mind people staring at me. same thing when i got out of the water at the annual alcatraz swim across san francisco Bay: the
roar from the crowd at the fact that i had beaten an awful lot of two-legged swimmers was so gratifying that it almost became a drug for me. i highly recommend this to anyone trying to bounce back from a physical or mental setback. The main issue is a loss of self-confidence that comes from such a setback. and as we all know, you just cannot live a healthy and happy life without strong self-confidence and self-esteem. for me and for many others, sports are a great way to get that self-
confidence back. for someone who was told he had zero chance of survival, being the father of two fantastic kids (and the adopted father of a third) is by far the accomplishment i could never have anticipated and, now that it has happened, is the most precious. i know that when we humans are tested and we fight back, we end up stronger than before. That is natural and is true of everyone. What i went through changed me and made me stronger and more willing to take risks. Many of those risks have turned out well for me, so in that respect i think i can say that what happened to me – cancer, amputation, loss of lung, living with a death threat – made me better.”
the sunday indian 48 28 march 2010
the sunday indian 49 28 march 2010
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?