What is Winning? To different people that question means different things. To me, at one time that meant winning an Olympic Gold Medal someday. About 28 years ago I was faced with a greater challenge in my life. This may be a little long but trust me it will be well worth your reading.
My name is Anthony Parish. Lanny Bassham’s wife, Helen, is my first cousin. Lanny and I became close while I was in high school, before he competed in his first Olympics. Later, when I went in the Army I was assigned to the Army Marksmanship Unit on the Running Target Team. From the time I was in high school I looked at Lanny (and I still do) as the brother that I never had. I can never say enough good things about Helen either. If my sister had lived I would have wanted her to have been just like Helen.
After being assigned to the Marksmanship Unit for a period of time I starting having very bad headaches. I would go on sick call but was told I only had an infection. Shortly before Lanny won his Gold Medal in the Olympics he developed this Mental Management program to teach other people. Guess who was one of the first people to sign up for his class? Little did I know I would not be using it for my shooting but to save my life.
I got out of the Army in August of 1976. The headaches were getting worse. I started to college and started pushing myself to the point no one should. I told myself the headaches were just because of the stress of going to college fulltime, working fulltime and I had just started the police academy. It was a couple hours of sleep her and an hour there, etc. In July 1978 my world came to a stop! I truly believe God puts people in our life to help you through the bad times and I was going to embark on upon a time that would change my life. This testimony is not to take away from the blessings of God or from the skills of the doctors, I want to make that clear. This article is just about Mental Management and how I believe it helped me save my life.
In July 1978, I was involved in a car accident. I was taken to the hospital and they x-rayed my head. I was then sent to another hospital and had a C-T scan and several doctors came in the room. The main doctor told me I had a brain tumor about the size of a golf ball and they needed to do surgery to take it out. I asked how long I had to live. I was told they could give me 6 months but no more than 2 years.
Looking back, that was the second most scared I have ever been in my life. Most of my life’s career has been going toward danger. What most people run from, I run to. That is what I got paid to do and I am no stranger to fear. But terror, the kind that scares you all over, the kind you have no control over is what I was feeling. It’s one thing for a doctor to tell you that you have a tumor in another part of your body but when they tell you that you have one in your brain time stops and fear sets in. I remember trying to kid with myself thinking “When they are in there I hope I don’t hear whoops”. You might wonder how I could even think such a thing. When you are hit by a Mack truck you start looking for anyway to get out of the road. I had to get control of myself. I could not afford to fall apart.
I remembered one principle of Mental Management that came to me in a question form “Are you going to let the environment control your thoughts or are you going to take control?”. At that moment I chose that as my battle cry for this war. For this battle was not only over my body but also my life and my way of life. Dr. Porto told me to leave the hospital, get my affairs in order and make plans to be back in 2 weeks for surgery. The doctors would not speculate on my chances. I started running my mental program I learned from Lanny. In fact, I remember when I got home I called Lanny first. Lanny holds nothing back from his students. There is nothing hidden for some special student. Lanny had pay value in this, not only because I looked at him as an older brother. See cancer, plagued our family and Helen’s mother died from cancer she need not lose a cousin too. Everyone thought I was going to die, cancer was going to take another family members life. Oh yes, Lanny had pay value in my ability to use the program. He gives each student everything he has and I was no different. Before I went back to the hospital I talked with Lanny several times and I was running the plan.
I check into the hospital with nothing but a positive attitude. I checked in several days before surgery for test to be conducted. I made a point that no one was coming into my room unless they were positive and upbeat. My life depended on my mental state. The night before surgery I had a room full of visitors including Lanny and Helen. The nurse walked in with a sleeping pill for me to take. I informed her I was doing just fine without it. I do not think anyone else caught onto what I told the nurse but Lanny did. After everyone had left for the evening I started working my mental plan. I went right to sleep.
It was the day of brain surgery, the nurses were wondering how someone like me could be so upbeat. Just prior to surgery I started getting scared again so I really had to work hard on my mental plan. I was in a room with loved ones but I closed my eyes and tried to imagine a positive outcome. I could hear people talking but I could not hear what they were saying. I was taken to a cold dark room just outside the operating room. At this moment in time I was the most scared I have ever been in my life. I must have been there for 15 minutes alone thinking there is nothing I can do. They are going into my brain and I may die today. I was scared. Then I said out loud “Are you going to let your environment control you or are you going to take control?” It helped control my fear. And each time I would ask myself that question and answer with a strong “I will take control” a little bit more fear left. In what seemed like days they finally came to take me to the operating room. I looked at Dr. Proto and said a few words to him. Next thing I knew I was out.
I remember starting to wake up during the surgery and trying to scream but my head and chin were secured. And I asked myself again “Are you going to let the environment control you or are you going to take control?” Before I could answer myself I was out again. The next thing I remember is waking up in I.C.U. Dr. Porto told everyone that the surgery would take at least 4 hours. I was out in less than 2. He also said that I would be in I.C.U. for at least 3 days. I was out of I.C.U. in less than 24 hours. Lanny asked Dr. Porto why the surgery went so well. Some of the reasons Dr. Porto gave was because of the good night’s sleep the night before and the positive attitude I had.
There is some damage to my brain because of the tumor. Years later my medical condition because of the residuals are so bad that some days I cannot even get out of bed. But I am able to use the Mental Management program Lanny taught me to help lessen the chronic pain. There are some things a person cannot change. But you can improve what you cannot change. I cannot change the fact that damage was done to my brain but I can improve my quality of life by controlling my thoughts. I may not have an Olympic Gold Medal but I am living proof that Lanny’s program works. I am honored to be the first person to apply the Mental Management program prior to, during and after my surgery. I use it everyday to control or lessen the chronic pain that I suffer from. My dreams of Olympic Gold are gone. But when confronted with learning something that will win you a medal or help save your life I will take what is behind the door that will help save my life every time. The nice thing is Lanny’s course does both.
Reaching the level of Master Peace Officer in Texas I was able to adapt his course to all types of situations. But for now I use it to control my chronic pain. I still enjoy shooting even though my mind and body don’t want to work together some days, still I can get a barrel down range and maybe even put a few down range too. So if you see me on the range, stop by and say hello. Just getting up and down the range is viewed as a very, very good day for me. I hope my insight has helped you understand something about Lanny’s program. It is not only for shooters and business professionals. It can be used when people are confronted with the worst things that life can throw at them, when your whole world comes falling down on you. If you can make it through that – you can be a WINNER too!
Thank you Lanny and Helen!
Anthony T. Parish