Life Lessons Learned Amid Chaos

By , Chris ''SparkGuy'' Downie
A message from Chris "SparkGuy" Downie: When I posted the story about my brain surgery (which you can read here) on LinkedIn, a longtime friend reached out and shared a story with me about his health issue. As it turns out, there are similarities in our stories, so I asked him if I could share his story with you to further inspire others to overcome adversity and succeed.

The most important similarity is that Dick and I both had good health and fitness habits prior to coming face-to-face with our individual health issues. Pursuing and maintaining good health and fitness habits is an investment in yourself and puts you in a position where you are more able and ready to fight any potential life or death situation. The lesson here is to be ready to fight! 

My name is Dick Bruder and I love both my work and my workouts equally—they feel more like fun than work! I am a strong believer that being physically fit not only provides the energy needed to be a good husband, father and grandfather, but is also crucial in achieving career aspirations. 
The day I retired from Procter & Gamble in early 1999,  I started a consulting company with many other P&G executives who were great consultants. While I devoted long hours to building this business, I also made it a priority to carve out about two hours each day for cardio and weight training. In between exercise and completing 5K and 10K races, my great team and I built the consulting company into a multi-national firm with many great Fortune 50 companies as clients.
In April 2012, on Good Friday, I felt very fatigued during a workout. I took a shower, came home and called my son, who is a physician. He came over, looked at me and said the words I'll never forget: "Dad, we are going to the emergency room."

I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. After starting some chemo treatments, my son arranged a "second opinion" with the head of the Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) practice at The James Cancer Center at Ohio State University. He said that while they did not usually consider patients over the age of 70 for BMTs, I was so physically fit that he agreed I was a candidate. In late July, The James Cancer Center found a perfect match and I received a BMT on August 6, 2012.

After the transplant, I found myself with no energy and began the process of finding a buyer for my company while simultaneously trying to recover and get some strength back. I sold the company in March 2013 with a five-year non-compete clause. More importantly, I set a goal to get my energy and strength back. Slowly but surely, my fitness (and my hair!) returned and, one year from the date of my BMT, I ran in a 5K in Cincinnati. Thanks to an active training program, I had regained most all of my energy and strength and was finally starting to feel like myself again.
After completing one goal, I also wanted to re-start my business career. When my non-compete came to an end midway through 2018, I started recruiting senior level executives who had started at P&G, many of whom went on to successful careers at other great companies after leaving P&G. In July 2018, I launched C-Suite Consulting-Partners Group with 30 partners and consultants in all key functional areas. Since many had great success after P&G, we use the tag line, "P&G Plus."

Today, I continue my six to seven days per week workout schedule, and I thank God, my family and friends every day for my good fortune. For me, fitness helped propel me through hard times and helped me achieve the goals I needed to set for myself. Health is a powerful thing, and I wish you all health and, most importantly, happiness. 

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