Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Toastmasters Ice Breaker Speech: "I Can"

By Alvin Abrantes

Henry Ford, once said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right!”

Good evening, everyone! I’m Alvin Abrantes, and, I’m here to share with you the incident that changed my life.

The year was 2005; I was at the peak of my career as the youngest regional manager for a financial company, and at the same time, a candidate for a position of Assistant Vice-President. Personally and professionally, everything was so smooth for me. I have a pretty, loving, & supportive wife and two wonderful kids, plus a very stable and financially rewarding career.

Until the unimaginable happened. I experienced the unexpected.

At first, I thought it was just a simple case of stress due to over-work, I felt so weak for several days until, I got paralyzed from neck down. Because of my condition, I wasn't able to walk alone, stand alone, and eat alone. I can’t even hold a pen to write some notes. In short, I was a good for nothing individual.

I was confined at a very good hospital. The medical specialists who attended to my condition are the best in the industry. However, even if they are the best, it took them several days and several medical examinations to confirm what happened to me.

I was diagnosed of a rare disease called Guillain Barre Syndrome. Guillain-Barré syndrome is a non-communicable disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.

In simple terms, my own system tried to kill “itself” slowly.

The syndrome is rare and with no known cure, but therapies can lessen the severity of the illness and accelerate the recovery in most patients.
My doctors told me that, we have to take this as patiently as possible, and recovery usually takes weeks, even months or sometimes years.

After hearing the doctor’s prognosis. I tried to accept my condition as calmly as possible, but deep inside I felt it was the end for me.

It was during these very trying times that I felt the love of my family, relatives, & friends. They were there to cheer me up, they motivated me and told me that it was not the end of the world for me; some even went out of their way just to check my condition.

With my health condition, I resigned from my job to focus on my therapy and recovery.

My wife, who worked as human resources specialists at that time, took a leave of absence from her work to take good care of me.

The High cost of medicines and hospital bills ate my savings. Just to save money, my wife and I cancelled the 3rd birthday celebration of our son, and some other activities.

My therapy went well, but I felt that it was not enough; I know doctors can only do so much and I have to help myself, after realising the immeasurable love I have for my wife and kids. I decided to disobey my doctor’s orders.

With lots prayers and so much faith, I did the unexpected.

With the help of my wife, I tried to walk little by little until I can jog and run, then, I tried lifting lightweights until I can lift heavier weights.

Little by little, I recovered; little by little, I started to gain weight, but now, as you can see I am over-weight.

Like an eagle soaring in the sky, I have overcome this test in my life.

Now I believe. Now I know. I can!

With the blessings of our LORD, I can overcome pain, failure, rejection, humiliation and any uncertainties ahead of me.

The decisions and actions I took before when I was down, and, those that I will take today will definitely affect my future. I am fully aware that the future is an unraveling mystery, constantly revealed by how we live our lives in the present. It is my prayer that my decisions and actions will be a living testimony to strength & beauty of my character.

I can!

How about you?

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