February 10, 2014 12:00 PM

Brain cancer stole his ability to teach, so David Menasche hit the road to visit former students and learn from them

How did you decide to do this?

Even with six years of treatment, I still went [partly] blind and lost the left side of my body; I can walk but with a cane. When I lost my classroom, I lost my sense of purpose. I decided to return to the last place I had been where I felt love … in the hearts of my students.

What were you hoping to discover?

My initial question was, Did I make a difference and if so, What was that difference?

What did you find?

I had this assignment in my class: a list of 26 abstract words such as love, honor, wealth that I had my kids put in order of personal importance. It gave me insight on what they were really hoping for. I found out on my trip that the list had been revelatory for a lot of them.

Did your travels change you?

Everything I learned was unexpected. Even though I could have died on the road, I ended up really living while I was out there. I want people to realize that no matter what their own difficulty is, there is still a way to live a life of purpose, fulfillment, happiness and adventure.

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