“ Pray. Tackle it head on and take control of your health. Don’t just listen to the doctors, because they may be great or they may be biased. To some of them it’s just a business and you are their next yacht payment. I know this for a fact. Sad but true. Celebrate something every day, even if it’s a small thing – like waking up!
AJ Ali is a non-survivor “featured mAss Kicker”, but a mAss Kicker none the less. Loved ones play a crucial role in “mAss Kicking”. AJ is leading a very interesting life! After playing on the US Air Force Soccer Team, he became an accomplished writer, musician, and entrepreneur. AJ and his wife Jane created the non-profit Marathon of Miracles, a Christian cancer outreach and wellness organization offering hope for the mind, body and spirit. They teamed up again to create Survivor Celebration, a social media site geared towards all cancer patients. AJ also recently authored the book, The True Champion’s 30-Day Challenge. We were fortunate to track AJ down and ask him a few questions.
mK: Why did you start survivor celebration?
AA: I started it as a way of fighting back in a positive way. I think attitude plays a big part in one’s ability to fight cancer or any other challenge. So, to survive is one thing, but to celebrate takes it to a different level. Celebrate life, celebrate friendships, celebrate every day that we’re given.
mK: What/ when was Jane’s diagnosis? How did she find out about her diagnosis?
AA: Jane was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. She was working out and felt a lump. It was April 2nd, 2005. When I came into the house and she told me I said “Come on, April Fools was yesterday.” Our world changed at that moment. I’ll never forget it.
mK: What were her symptoms?
AA: Nothing, really. She was lucky to have found the lump so early.
mK: Wow! Detecting things early is so important! We need people to look up to. Who is your hero or heroes?
AA: I have many heroes. Some of them include Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Hancock (the messed up guy Will Smith played in the movie) and Jesus, not necessarily in that order. My brother Abbey, who died in 1998 of Hodgkins Lymphoma, was my biggest hero of all. He was a brave warrior. He fought a good fight.
mK: What motivates you?
AA: I love to win. Losing sucks. I’ve played sports all my life and was a pretty good soccer player. I was able to travel around the world because of my soccer skills. Now I’m hoping my golf game can improve because I’m nowhere near as good a golfer as I was a soccer player. But I digress. I love the feeling of winning. I view cancer as the opponent I must defeat. In sports, I’d find the opponent’s weakness and I’d mentally find a way to beat him before I even took the field. I went in knowing I would win. With cancer, my goal is to see it defeated. I mean totally wiped out. To me, that means killing it even before it has a chance to kill us. That means environmental cleanup, healthier organic and natural foods (none of this chemical crap), fitness and many other things that will eliminate the risk and strengthen our immune systems so we can win the battle every time.
mK: You are so right! When we unite together against a common opponent, it will feel more satisfying when “WE” defeat this thing. On a smaller scale, when an individual has support, it makes everything SO much easier. We think the loved ones of patients play a HUGE role in “mAss Kicking”! When was the first time you felt like thing were going to be alright?
AA: Well, I’ve not been through it personally, so I’ll speak about my wife. I felt like she was going to be alright after she had gone through all of her treatments for the lump in the left breast (lumpectomy, chemo and radiation) and then there was a lump in the right breast that turned out to be nothing. When those results came back I just broke down crying from the release of all the stress and tension. After that I knew that we were mAss kickers and she was going to be alright.
mK: What makes you laugh, cry, angry?
AA: I laugh at almost anything. I’m pretty silly at times. I cry at movies. I really get into them. I get angry when people do things to intentionally hurt other people.
mK: Word of advice… don’t watch “Marley and Me”. We “heard” that one is a tear jerker… Anyways, you’ve accomplished so much, what would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve done?
AA: Wow, that’s a tough one. I’ve done some fun things. I’ve owned two pro soccer teams, authored a book (The True Champion’s 30-Day Challenge), driven across country in a 38-ft. pink RV to promote a music CD I produced and the SurvivorCelebration.com site when it launched. I’ve also lived in Sicily for a couple of years, which was very interesting. Probably the most fulfilling thing professionally so far is a toss up between helping to save an inner city soccer program 10 years ago (they are still going strong today) and the work I’m doing now with my Marathon of Miracles nonprofit.
mK: What was your toughest challenge as a loved one of someone with a difficult diagnosis? How did you guys overcome it?
AA: The possibility of her death. We overcame it through our faith in God. Once we gave that stress to God, everything else was manageable.
mK: What is your guilty pleasure?
AA: I enjoy a lot of pleasures, but none of them bring me guilt. I’m guilt free.
mK: OK. We don’t feel bad for wasting time on facebook then. HAHA! Let’s ask you this… if you could relive any moment in time what would it be and why?
AA: Marrying my first wife. Boy was that a mistake. Maybe that’s why I love golf because if you really screw up, your friends can give you a mulligan. Mulligans are a lot less painful than a divorce.
mK: “DO-OVERS” are great! If you mess up, big deal. As long as you learn something solid from the experience then you really haven’t failed… we like to call those things “experiments”… What do you like to do in your spare time?
AA: Um, golf.
mK: What are you doing now?
AA: Setting up speaking engagements on the subject of becoming a true champion – based on my book. If you know any groups of 50 people or more who can use some motivation and a plan to improve their mind, body and spirit, I’m there!
mK: Advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
AA: Pray. Tackle it head on and take control of your health. Don’t just listen to the doctors, because they may be great or they may be biased. To some of them it’s just a business and you are their next yacht payment. I know this for a fact. Sad but true. Celebrate something every day, even if it’s a small thing – like waking up!
mK: Tell us something people probably didn’t know… anything.
AA: One of my favorite movies is Adam Sandler’s “50 First Dates.” Yes, and I cry at the end every time I see it. Another favorite is “300,” just to balance things out.
mK: Any parting words for all the mAss Kickers?
AA: Get out there and kick some mass!
AJ Ali, a very intense and successful man, avid golfer, movie aficionado, and busybody who celebrates life. Thanks for spending time with us, AJ! Just interviewing him makes us want go out and celebrate life!