Marine On FIRE

Planning to be FIREd from the military

I Challenge You

BLUF:  The FI/RE community is amazing but we are often focused on the long game.  I challenge you to take a look at your life and ask if you are getting everything you want out of it, because things can change quickly.  Habits overtime become who you are, solidifying your character, and ultimately what you are remembered by.

Opening Up

As many have been tracking on Twitter and on my blog, I have been going though a rough time (actually all of 2017 has been a nightmare).  I have kept my personal issues separate from my personal finance blog because I did not think it was relevant or a big deal.  Everyone is fighting their own battles, I am no different.

However, this little battle has grown to a full scale war.

A year ago I was exceptionally healthy.

  • Easily passed the Marine Corps’ Physical Fitness Test (3 mile run, pull-ups, sit-ups) and the Combat Fitness Test (.5 mile sprint in utilities, ammo can lifts, and a series of other speed strength exercises)
  • Hiked with full gear (+100 lbs.); body armor, weapon(s), and pack for 10-15 miles, no problem
  • Ran numerous adventure / mud runs
  • Ran marathons
  • Going through a second master program as well

Then overnight, everything changed.

I am very much still in the fight, actively trying to kill this disease.

So much chemotherapy (poison) has been pumped through my body that the likelihood for future “issues” has significantly increased.  I am permanently deaf in my right ear.  I am hypersensitive to any bump, rash, or ache on my body.  Is it more cancer?  

My life will never be the same after this.  Deploying to combat is tough, but battling something within your own body takes it to another level.  At least for me it is.

So Why Would The FI/RE, Personal Finance Community Care?

As a community, we are usually focused on the long game.  That is part of makes us so effective / successful.  We generally have a low discount rate; we would much rather invest ~$1,000 now and have it return continuous profit in the future vice go buy a new TV.

With that said, like it or not, we are all going to face a major life challenges. 

There was a post on Reddit that really hit me a while ago (I was unable to find the specific post).  It went something like;

“What is your biggest fear while planning for financial independence.”

One of the highest voted comments was: Cancer.

This was near the time I was diagnosed.  It was hard to read, but it is true.

I have done “everything right” and here I am dealing with the big C.

The diagnoses absolutely forced me to look at my future different, but I would be lying it has significantly changed any of my short-term or long-term plans.

  • I am living the exact life I want.
  • We have been living a life of frugality, simplicity, and aggressive saving / investing for so long, it is who we are.
  • My family is amazing, I see and talk with them often.
  • I love my job and feel like I make a positive impact.
  • I have done well to every person I met and live without a single regret.
  • I am honored to have my life and am thankful for everything in it.
  • Also, I realized I had more support from friends and family that I ever imagined.

I Challenge You

Put yourself in my position, would you change anything?

Ask these questions now and review them every so often.  It makes dealing with challenges so much easier when they do happen.

“Your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, and your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Habits overtime become who you are, solidifying your character, and ultimately what you are remembered by.

The FI/RE community is amazing

I have learned a lot from everyone here and the different backgrounds of everyone make this community even more unique.  The support from people I have never met is amazing, thank you for everything, it means a lot.

Big picture wise, I am still alive and feeling good.  I am going through some hard treatment right now and I hope to be on the back side of it soon; however, I am ready for anything that comes my way.

This disease is not taking me down like this.

I will not let anyone down, I know nothing else.


  1. What an insightful post. I’ve been thinking a lot since you announced your diagnosis and praying for you. It is really good to know that this does not change how you would live your life. I think it’s so important to live your life today in a way that you truly enjoy living, not just wishing and working for “someday.” We might all get 100 years, or we might not get another 100 minutes. Gotta do your best to live like both are your future.

  2. Hang in there brother! Keep up the good fight and be proud in the fact that you’ve controlled the things in life you can, and met the uncontrollable with full force and a positive attitude. Keeping you and yours in my thoughts.

  3. You have such a positive attitude and so much strength, not just physically but mentally and your character. I believe if anyone can bring this to its knees you can. We’re all rooting for you!
    And this is a definite reminder to always plan like you’ll live forever, but live like you don’t have any time, because you might not. We’re currently dealing with a grandmother’s diagnosis and outlook is grim (2-4 months), but she’s so cheerful and positive and has lived a great life with no regrets.

  4. Oh $hit – You’ve got my attention! Way to put all this out there like this, wow.

    • MoF

      2017-12-16 at 23:09

      It has been a rough year, nothing has gotten easier yet. Hope to be out of the hospital before Christmas. Staying strong and positive! Appreciate the comment!

      • First time here as I found you through RF, but I’ll add your hope to my Christmas prayer list. I hope you make it home soon.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story. I can’t imagine what you and your family are going through right now. If I were in your shoes, I would probably do the same things that you’re doing. Stay the course that you set for yourself with regards to your finances, spend time with loved ones, and try to stay positive and focused on the good in your life. I have had a frustrating year of doctor’s visits (not cancer, though) and sometimes it’s hard to not let the what ifs take over my thoughts. Stay strong. We’re all rooting for you!

    • MoF

      2017-12-20 at 11:51

      Thank you very much! Completely agree with your “what-ifs” statement! Wish you the best as well.

  6. Hang in there. The storm shall pass and you will persevere. Life is such a fragile thing and making it what we want is so important. This is where the FIRE community is quite good at reflecting and moving forward in a deliberate way.

    You are in our thoughts.

  7. Thanks for sharing about your diagnosis. We can plan the plan, but not the outcome. We can play the percentages and the odds will be in our favor. In spite of that, life happens and it is not always easy. Sometimes life is just rotten. We can save and invest for the future, but we have to live for today. Take care of yourself.

  8. Geez that last quote you posted was powerful. It immediately made me cry because from the tone of your post I really do think you are the storm. Thank you for giving me much-needed perspective today. Keeping you in my thoughts!

  9. Thanks for sharing! It’s a lot easier to imagine what I’d do if life threw me for a loop than to see actually do it. It’s inspiring to see you living your best life despite the challenges.

    On the question of if I’d change anything if I were in your shoes – it’s so hard without knowing how something like chemo would impact energy levels. That said, having those habits down hard beforehand sounds like a great way to prepare. Were there any habits you think helped you the most?

    • MoF

      2017-12-22 at 00:53

      Thanks for the comment. I took a moment to reply because you asked an interesting question. It can be interpreted different ways; financial habits, fitness habits, lifestyle habits, or ‘some other’ habit.
      Not sure if I have a simple answer, but here are some main things that have helped me.
      Finances: Most of my finances are set up for automatic deposits (rent income), automatic payments (all bills), and automatic investments (Roth IRAs, 401ks, index funds, equities). Primarily because I deploy or / and move so often, it is one less thing I have to worry about. As a result, when I suddenly got sick and started to spend a lot more time at the hospital, not a single bill was missed and all our investments continued to grow automatically. Finances has never been a concern.
      Fitness. I (was) a gym and running guy, like two hours a day before I got sick. Being fit before being blasted with chemo has been huge. Many other patients that I have met have had many side complications because of poor health. Basically, if you have cancer, doctors will keep hitting you with as much poison as they can to try and kill what is in you. Your body’s limits is what limits a lot of treatments. By being fit at the start has enabled me to continue being very active while getting chemo.
      Lifestyle. Stay active, keep your mind active. I was going to school overseas When I was diagnosed. The US military was ready to send me back home to the US, then I would simply be a patient while getting chemo (work would be put on hold). After some discussions, I was able to stay overseas and continue with school while getting my first rounds of chemo. It was very difficult but even with chemo, I never missed a day (other than chemo days) or an assignment. After graduating, I returned to the US and started a new job. The next two rounds of chemo and recent stem cell transplant were a lot rougher, but I cannot just sit at home. I go to work everyday I do not have some other medical appointment.
      I know these thoughts could be tightened up, but these were basic habits that have enabled me to get through this last year.

  10. I love that quote at the end. You’re seriously an inspiration and I hope you know you have a boatload of people in the FI/RE community rooting for you and here to support you. Keep the updates coming and stay strong!

  11. Surely sharing your story so beautifully and bravely will bring you emotional and physical healing. I salute you and wish you strength. A close friend of mine faced a similar battle and unlike how I thought he would want to spend his time (travelling, living it up), all he wanted was to enjoy the simple things: time with family and friends, and the opportunity to go back to work. His message to treasure “normalcy” with all its innate ups and downs stays with me. All the best and happy holidays!

  12. I’ve recently found your blog and reading through it has changed my perspective on life.

    I’m not as brave and strong as you are, so I don’t know what I would do in your position. But I had a few scary health related events of my own starting Dec 2016 and 2017 has been full of doctor visits and tests.

    Over the course of the year, I’ve completely changed my diet and lifestyle. I got on a plant based diet and started exercising every day and not worrying too much about things that I don’t have any control over and instead focusing more on life, health, and family. It’s a work in progress for me, but I need to get hope and strength from someone strong like you.

    So, you better beat this thing, I know you can and you will. Because if you don’t, there is absolutely no chance for someone like me to survive a disease like cancer. You are my hope.

    • MoF

      2017-12-22 at 00:08

      Thank you so much! You sound very brave and strong my friend, keep up the hard work. We can always keep improving, never settle for mediocre, we are meant for so much more! Like I said in my post, it is going to take a lot more than this to take me down. I still have a lot of fight left.

  13. First time reader from Rockstar Finance. Just wanted to comment to share my support for what you are going through. Stay strong and positive!
    This was a very brave post and an amazing wake-up call.
    I sincerely thank you for sharing.

  14. Very generous of you to provide this post for the benefit of your readers during this trial. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

    Merry Christmas!

  15. Wow, love that quote at the end and this entire post. Thanks for sharing your story, and keep fighting! You’ve got the whole community behind you.

  16. My post on Rockstar today was meant to be entertaining and hopefully a bit thought provoking, yours…….yours left me with goosebumps. Your life of service and your strength today in the eye of the storm are pure inspiration. Good luck in your toughest battle and Godspeed MoF.

    • MoF

      2017-12-22 at 00:10

      Thank you for the comment. Congrats on being selected as well, I liked your post too.

  17. Keep up the fight, man! You seem like a very resilient person with a positive attitude!

  18. Good to see you are now home from the hospital…I hope you have a great Christmas and wish you a wonderful new year!

  19. What a journey! I too am ready to put 2017 behind me. I created it, it’s mine, and I am learning a lot from my journey. Check out THE WAR OF ART- a book. You can get it on audible too.
    May the blessings be

  20. I’ve blogging for a while and but haven’t joined the community. I plan to do that in 2017. I’m a USAF officer passionate about personal finances and blog about it.

    It takes great courage to post about your cancer and my family will pray for you. Good luck!

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