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See how a simple business card changed conversations from fear and uncertainty to one of laughter, optimism and healing.  This is video is both a wonderful example and a sad reminder. It is the story of our good friend Bill Ferrence.  Bill was the manager of the Boulder Dam Credit Union. when he contracted bladder cancer which would be terrifying for anyone but Bill also had an absolute phobia of hospitals. This story tells how Bill, despite his dire diagnosis continued to love life and laugh every day.

Despite his virtual terror of hospital equipment and all things medical, he has survived chemotherapy with laughter, optimism and lots of Xanax.    His first doctor treated Bill as a patient and not as a person.  From his condescending perch of professional superiority he announced Bill would be admitted for surgery the following Saturday, to which Bill responded ” Saturday?  Saturday won’t work for me; that is the Notre Dame/Michigan game.”  Somewhat befuddled but still in charge, the doctor relented to Bill’s rescheduling request and asked if he could check his prostate, to which Bill politely responded NO.  Undeterred the doctor announced that he would be checking the prostate while Bill was under anesthesia, to which Bill responded “you can repair my ACL while I’m under”.

Every conversation we have had since then has been filled with laughter despite his overwhelming fear of the hospital environment.  At one point years ago Bill sat waiting while one of his kids was in the hospital.  Sweat rolled down his pale cheeks as he stared across the lobby.  How can they leave that medical equipment out in plain sight?  That’s just not right.  I’m going to pass out, throw up or both.  Moments later a young man approached this horrifying piece of equipment, plugged it in and began buffing the floor!

Feelings don’t care about right or wrong, realistic or unrealistic.  They just are, and they are far more powerful than our thinking minds.  It is important to remember “we are not thinking beings that have feelings; we are feeling beings that have thoughts”.

Fortunately Bill has found those feeling beings in his new healthcare team, and the one I would like to share with you is Angel, a young man in his early thirties.  His mother and grandmother had both been nurses and he was born for the role.  Sensitive to Bill’s aversion to “all things hospital”, each of Bill’s tests is conducted in one room.  Rather than being forced to move from one room to the next for the hospital’s convenience, in every way possible Bill’s needs were put first.  Just before Thanksgiving, Bill needed to have an injection in his stomach.  Other patients may have been able to do this themselves or with the help of a spouse, but Angel knew this was not even a possibility for Bill.  Angel said he was going to drive 40 minutes from Las Vegas to give Bill his shot before from driving to Southern California for the holiday.  Instead Bill and Cheryl drove to Las Vegas, and Angel was able to give Bill his shot between continuing education classes at the hospital.  When they returned home, Bill asked Cheryl to find a thank you card in which he placed $500 that was to be used for Angel’s children for Christmas.

Bill had only a few rules at the credit union.  He has the “one to eleven rule”.  (It used to be the one to ten rule, but now that he has grandchildren it is one to eleven).  When people come to him in whatever crisis that has grabbed them at the moment, he always asks “with 11 being the death of a grandchild, how important is this?”

We miss him terribly but hope by sharing his stories that his life-lifting approach will encourage others to appreciate the moments we have and the people we meet. You can learn many more actionable ideas by simply searching his name using the search button at the top right hand corner of this site.

Bill was the ultimate Peer Power Leader.   Even after 30 years Bill refused to elevate himself to the title of CEO. He always saw himself as a servant to both his members and staff.

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