Joe McCue is a healthy, happy man.
He has a great job, and he loves his work. He has many friends and acquaintances within the Lake Bluff community, and he's well-liked by just about everyone he meets.
McCue is unquestionably a happy, healthy, well-adjusted man. But his life hasn't been easy. He's gone through plenty to find the happiness he enjoys today, including two diagnoses of testicular cancer twice before he turned 40.
McCue will lead a team at Saturday's Relay For Life of Lake Forest/Lake Bluff at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital. The 12-hour event starts at 6 p.m. and runs until 6 a.m. Sunday. For more information, check out the Relay For Life website here.
McCue first was diagnosed with cancer in February 1998. At the time, he was 30 and working as a mechanical engineer for a company based in Boston, Mass. He liked his job well enough, and he believed that his life was, more or less, in order.
But all that changed after his diagnosis. "In a single day," McCue explained, "the course of my entire life was changed. Everything I believed to be important suddenly felt so insignificant."
"When I began to recover, I decided to completely turn my life around," McCue continued.
He left Boston, and enrolled in a health and wellness program at the Heartwood Institute, near Los Angeles, Calif.
McCue took to Heartwood's curriculum almost immediately, and he excelled in most of his classes. He managed to do so well, in fact, that when he graduated, he was able to set up a massage therapy practice nearby — the first of its kind in Pacific Palisades — and he continued to further his education whenever he got the chance.
"I loved the work I did as a massage therapist," McCue said. "And if you had asked me five years ago what I was going to be doing with my life today, I would have told you that I would still be working as a therapist. I moved to Chicago in 2006, and I had every intention of rebuilding my practice in the city."
But then the unthinkable happened. Only a few months after moving to Chicago, McCue was diagnosed with testicular cancer for a second time. And the prognosis was much worse this time too — McCue was forced to undergo a series of aggressive chemotherapy treatments.
"It was a brutal experience," McCue said of the chemotherapy, "but I found the strength to keep going somehow, and once I was better, I felt like my life had been dramatically changed for the second time."
Joe chose to give up his private practice after recovering from that second bout of cancer. But he didn't give up on his interest in health and wellness, or his interest in holistic medicine.
Instead, he chose to apply what he had learned at the various schools and institutions he had studied at over the years, and he began to pursue a career as a teacher of health and wellness.
"I realized," McCue said, "that I could continue to help people improve their health and well-being. And I realized that I could also teach others to follow in my footsteps, to become practitioners of health and wellness in their own right."
And so he took a teaching position as an adjunct faculty member at the College of Lake County in its health and wellness department, a position he continues to hold today.
McCue has accumulated more than 1,200 hours of professional training, and he has studied dozens of massage therapy, health and wellness, and holistic healing techniques. He also has received his certification as a life coach and a personal fitness coach, and he is pursuing a master's degree in health and wellness at DePaul University.
McCue believes that he owes many of those accomplishments and much of his happiness, at least in part, to his battles with cancer.
"Facing your own mortality helps you appreciate all of the little things in life so much more," he says. "I don't take anything for granted the way I used to, and I'm a better person because of it.
"I wouldn't wish cancer on my worst enemy." McCue said, solemnly. "But that doesn't mean that being diagnosed with cancer wasn't the best thing that ever happened to me. And if I had to go back and do it all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat."
For more information about McCue's career and the services he provides, check out his website, Another Glorious Day.