KENNEDY TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — What does it take to change your life? To really change it. To get you to quit dreaming about doing what you really want to do – and start doing it?
For some people, it’s confronting something we all know, but probably don’t dwell on.
They serve food all day at Bob’s Diner, but breakfast is the owner Bob Marshall’s favorite time. There’s the smell of coffee brewing and bacon frying. And the way his customers seem happier in the morning – indulging in letting someone else cook the eggs and wash the dishes.
But chances are you won’t find anyone happier at Bob’s Diner than Bob himself.
“You know, I’m 60 years old now and I’m having a ball,” he says. “I’m having the time of my life.”
And he says it’s all because of cancer. Prostate cancer. Bob Marshall of Crafton got the diagnosis seven years ago, when he was in his early 50s.
“And I thought, well, this is interesting. Now what?” he said.
It was the kind of turning point the late Apple founder Steve Jobs famously talked about a few years earlier, after his own cancer diagnosis. He told Stanford graduates that confronting his mortality was empowering.
“Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important,” said Jobs.
Bob Marshall had a similar experience.
“I remember lying there in the hospital thinking, when I get out of here, I going to do what I really like to do. And that’s be in the diner business,” he said.
He had long loved diners and had tried it a couple of other times, but as a side gig. This time, he resolved to up and quit his career in sales – give up the company benefits – and go all-in. Within a year, he opened a diner in Kennedy. Today, there are three more – in Carnegie, Upper St. Clair and Castle Shannon.
With his full-time attention, business is good. And Bob is well. You might say Bob’s Diner is Bob’s salvation.
“You get the diagnosis and you can either crawl into a hole and die or you move forward and follow your dream and follow your heart… and I think it’s been healthy for me, too,” he says.
Cancer didn’t show Bob Marshall how to die. It showed him how to live.
“Once it’s in your face and once you see it, you have a whole different outlook on life because you know that we’re not here forever. Somebody told me years ago, life’s not a rehearsal. You know, do what you want to do – now,” he says. “So that’s what I did.”