In 2013, my wife left me and I was devastated. Since then, I’ve had a lot of stress. We have two sons, Shalom, who’s 24 and is a pilot, and my 14-year-old, Elad, who lives with his mom. I see them a lot, but they live four hours away and it’s been difficult. I’m originally from Kenya, and we were living in the UK and moved to America in 2007. I’m 54 now. I live on my own and I was lonely. I’ve been feeling emotionally drained, which drove me into bad habits. I was eating junk food and chocolate. I weighed 250 pounds, I had high cholesterol, and my energy levels were at zero.

In January, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. 

While I was in the hospital having tests, I started thinking about death. My father died when I was 18 which was very hard. I prayed and asked God to give me more time to be with my children so I can help them through their major life decisions. My doctor said I needed to exercise and lose weight, which has been a big struggle for me in the past. I heard about the Thrive Challenge and decided to get started.

First I bought a treadmill and started using it every day.

I also started walking on the very nice trail near my house. Being in nature, watching the ducks on the lake, and enjoying the fresh air is calming. I feel lighter and rejuvenated when I get home. 

I changed the way I eat.

I stopped eating red meat. I’m eating vegetables, beans, fruit, and nuts, and I’m cooking for myself. I like to make chicken stew and rice with a vegetable medley. I use green beans, carrots, onions, and tomatoes.

In September I had a biopsy and I found out that my tumor is benign.

My doctors say I’m not at risk and they’re happy with my lifestyle changes. I’ve lost 30 pounds so far and feel much better.

I started going to church and getting involved in the community. 

I joined a Bible study men’s group which has given me fellowship and has helped with the healing process. It’s very supportive. Every other Wednesday, we have breakfast together, talk, catch up, and pray together. Sometimes after church, we’ll have a meal together. Five people in our group and their wives came to my house and I cooked Kenyan food: rogan josh — a lamb stew — and chapati, a bread I make with wheat flour and oil.

I play drums for a gospel group at church.

I didn’t have the motivation to drum before doing the Thrive Challenge and it’s fun. It’s inspiring, it gives me focus, and it takes my mind off anything stressful or negative. 

My relationship with my sons has improved tremendously.

We love each other’s company. My older son Shalom and I will have a meal, watch a movie, and spend time talking. He asked me for advice about dating and I gave him an article I’ve written about relationships. He told me he thought it was very deep. My younger son comes to stay with me. We play games and work out together. We challenge each other doing pushups. He wants to beat me and he always does, of course! 

By cooking at home, I’m saving money.

I’m putting away at least $100 from each paycheck. When I’m thinking of buying something, I have also started asking myself whether I really need it, or whether it can wait. 

I have two degrees in marketing, but I’m going back to school. 

I’m planning to study project management through Sam’s Club. I’m motivated in my career now and I feel like I have an open door to do anything I want to do. 

My co-workers come to me for advice because I am a good listener.. 

One woman felt she was under a lot of pressure and told me she wanted to spend more time with her family. We talked about it and she cut her hours and now she’s so happy being at home with her kids and spending time with her family.

I’ll be there when my sons get married and hopefully I’ll be a grandfather someday.

I’m more optimistic about life. I feel lighter, more energetic, and happier.

— Sam Kibisu, Sam’s Club #6342, Tulsa, OK; $5K Winner

The Thrive Challenge is all about making small, better choices in your everyday life using the Thrive platform (on web or mobile) in whatever area you want to prioritize. Join the Thrive Challenge here and submit your story for a chance to win part of a $1,000,000 prize pool.