Ryan Berman talks to thought leaders from around the globe in business, sports and entertainment to uncover what it means to be courageous in today's world.
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EP110 Robert Duran

A Courageous Conversation with Robert Duran

A few months back, you may remember my podcast with Robert Duran who had been fighting Pancreatic Cancer. In late March, Robert entered hospice. Last week, Robert (as he would put it) left this world for “2.0”. Robert was an anomaly in more ways than one. He defied the odds and battled the king of cancers for just under a decade. Along the way, he raised heaps of awareness and money for PAN CAN.

Episode Notes

I was able to spend an hour with Robert at the end of March when he arrived home to start hospice. It covers a coherent soul having the conversations he needed to have as well as a look back at his life. His spirit and passion for making a dent lives on in a lot of us — including me. Please consider listening to our conversation and making a donation on Robert’s behalf at

The Courageous Podcast w/Robert Duran
March 23, 2023
Ryan Berman: All right, let's do this properly. It's March 23rd, 9:15 in the morning. Tell the tail of
the tape, when was the last time you ate?
Robert Duran: It's been over 30 days. Probably 40. For sure, I was getting a little bit of nutrition
before that. Some of it was coming down, but definitely over 30 days.
Ryan Berman: You look good, man. Your mind is super sharp still. Is that part of the pickle?
Robert Duran: Yup, yup, yup. Sooner or later, my body's gonna chew up all my muscles that I
have left. I can still walk, by the way.
Ryan Berman: That's good.
Robert Duran: Dead man walking.
Ryan Berman: (laughs)
Robert Duran: Uh, and I won't be able to walk, and then it'll start eating other stuff up, and then
at that point, the process of dying is pretty much science.
Ryan Berman: I was thinking about you, obviously, on the way over and, one of the things I
admire about you is how strong your mind is. I think strong mind equates to strong body. For
most of our lives it's strong mind equates strong body. But now your body is fighting a different
battle than your mind. Your mind can only do so much, I imagine, now. It's like the body's taking
over and doing what the body's supposed to do. Is that how you feel?
Robert Duran: It's true, but it's still discipline and it's still hard work, and a lot of that comes from
the mindset. A lot of my friends are like, "Robert, I don't know how you do it. How do you keep
doing these things when, you know, we're perfectly healthy - and you're sick, you're getting
chemo, and you ride your bike, or you do a workout session, and you're just out of the hospital?"
And I say, "You know what, I get motivated because of the discipline. For me, the discipline
keeps me doing the hard work, and so I always get motivation to, uh, live my life and do what I
do." And that's the difference. That discipline, that workout, that mental mindset is almost robotic
in a way, because that keeps me online.
Ryan Berman: How long do you think it took you to get there?
Robert Duran: I don't know. I think my genetics. Uh, how much someone can do that
without that? I think they can learn...because I learned. I've learned a lot of things that I never
thought that I would ever, ever be good at. I think that's how I'm wired, particularly, is to see the

absolute truth. And, uh, that's what keeps me on my path. I’ve just refuse to be that someone
that just goes along with something just because it is, and that's why I've been such a patient
advocate for myself to fight this cancer for so long.
Ryan Berman: I love that concept of ‘absolute truth’, and it's almost sad that you have to put
those two words together, you know. It should just be truth.
Robert Duran: Yeah.
Ryan Berman: Uh, I'm all for it. Even with the journey I've been on, like, I feel like the first half
of my life, of my business life, I was spinning the truth as an ad guy, you know?
Robert Duran: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's like, check the boxes.
Ryan Berman: Yeah.
Robert Duran: We're checking them. And that doesn't work for me, and I told my bosses. It's
like, you know what, do you want me to do... just check the box? 'Cause if you want me to
check that box, I can't do what really needs to happen. And so take that with you – and they
never came back to me. You give it to someone else.
Ryan Berman: Yeah.
Robert Duran: ... or rethink it. Sorry, I interrupted.
Ryan Berman: No, all good. My job now...I get paid to tell the truth, the absolute truth, right?
And have a direct conversation with somebody. In the spirit of that, you sent me a text yesterday
that the docs say you've got like a week to live. In the spirit of absolute truth, I'm curious, how
did that land with you? What conversations are you having with your family, with your friends,
and with yourself?
Robert Duran: Mm-hmm.
Ryan Berman: Can you share a little bit of that?
Robert Duran: Sure. Uh, I have faith. I live the word as much as I understand it. I'm an
individual. I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. So this is how I understand it. I have accepted my
fate. I've always said, when I was diagnosed with this disease in 2014... The symptoms arrived
in 2013, by the way, but I was diagnosed in 2014.
Ryan Berman: Mm-hmm.
Robert Duran: It's now 2023. So it's literally, like, what?

Ryan Berman: A decade.
Robert Duran: ... that I've been living with this cancer. Uh, it was a 94% mortality, five year
mortality rate, with about roughly the majority of the people who get diagnosed with pancreatic
cancer. And at that time, it was, like, 38,000 people per year in the United States. They die
within, three to six months. The majority of people who survive it, there's only a 15% chance that
they can actually, uh, get surgery.
Ryan Berman: Mm-hmm.
Robert Duran: And then even when they do get surgery, the cancer almost always comes back.
It metastasizes, and at that point there's no hope. Um, there's no cure. So when I got that
diagnosis, I realized it is what it is. It wasn't benign, it was malignant. It was actually there to
destroy me and kill me. So, uh, when I got that diagnosis, I said, okay. How am I gonna plan my
way around this? How am I gonna fight this? And what do I have to do? So I started
preparations for everything at that time in 2014 with my wife. I had all my doors open, all the
options open. I knew at that time what I was going to do, and as the plan developed, I was
gonna change and be dynamic as research and time brought out new options and treatments.
And my wife was like, "You already have this mapped out?" I said, "Yeah. Like, I have it already
mapped out so you don't have to worry. But I also want to talk to you because this is something
that you- we're gonna have to go through as a family and the kids," at the time. 'Cause they
were only, like, six and four.
Ryan Berman: Mm-hmm.
Robert Duran: So this has been a process that I started way back early. It's been refined as
we've moved on, and now we've refined it even further. So I'm at peace. I've accepted my
existence here. Since I believe that I'm on this Earth to help others, 'cause it's not all about me.
And I share my experience and I continue to do that. Even as we speak right now, I- I still have
my team together to raise more funds and awareness for the nonprofit of my
choice, which I'm an ambassador for, called PanCAN, and that's still going strong, and I'm still
sharing my story for others that will get cancer behind me or pancreatic cancer, or they'll be able
to at least learn, you know, what I did to survive, and maybe get a piece of what took for me to
live my life to the fullest. And I always said at that time that I would accept my life 150%. I’d live
life to the fullest for 10 years or 15 years or whatever, rather than live my life 60% for 20, 30, 40,
50 years.
Ryan Berman: That's beautiful.
Robert Duran: And I got it. Specifically, the last two years during COVID, I lived with it. Since it
had metastasized multiple times since 2014, I lived my life with a 1% chance of surviving, in
modern science terms, when many shut their lives down and they were perfectly healthy. So I
got it all. I'm happy. I've had conversations with my family of the things that were accelerated
because of my condition. So I've had those talks. I've had some friends come in that were close

in my circle come around to visit, and other friends, and kinda told them the same story. But of
course, they're emotional because they think of me. But I tell them, "Don't worry about me.
Worry about my family. Worry about the people that are gonna be hurt that I won't be around."
And those are perfectly natural human emotions of accepting life. But you know what, you know,
you either create or destroy energy, right? It... It just transfers. So there will be a Robert 2.0.
Ryan Berman: (laughs)
Robert Duran: That's what I truly believe in, and I'll continue to help others. I'll continue to repay
back all the nurses, all the doctors, all the community members, my family, everybody that has
supported me and my family. And I don't really mean pay back like I got to give them money or
anything like that, 'cause no amount of money is gonna pay them back. The only way I can do
that is to pay it forward, and that's why I continue to help others even though I'm in the situation
that I'm in and I have my own issues right now, as I die. 'Cause that's what gives me hope.
Ryan Berman: You had said that you've had talks with your son?
Robert Duran: I have.
Ryan Berman: ... I'm assuming your daughter as well...that conversations have been
expedited. Can you share a little about what you shared? Or do you want to say something here
that I can hold for you to share with him or her later?
Robert Duran: My son has only known me as having cancer and as a dad that's Superman, he
Ryan Berman: Mm-hmm.
Robert Duran: So he tries to be Superman. But I told him that, you know what, you don't have
to be strong. There are others that can help you be strong. And he also tries to be...well, I have
observed...I have thought and I could be wrong, very, uh... Emotions were just hidden. And I go,
you know what, it takes a strong man to show emotions. A stronger man to show emotions.
Humans tend to cover them up and shy away. They don't want to show their weakness. But if
you show your emotions, be transparent, you can deal with the absolute truth of what's
happening, And the decisions you make because of that will be a lot more clear than the ones
that are just rash and brash and irrational. And I want you to have a balance of both of them.
So, yeah, I have been scared many times going into surgery, but with my faith, it helps me.
What happens, happens. What doesn't, doesn't. But you don't have to be the strong guy.
There's others that can help. So, um...Be okay to talk to others and show your emotions. It's not
a sign of weakness. It'll actually make you stronger and you won't deny things because you put
it in the closet in the back of your brain. So I had that talk with him and I told him just live your
life, don't always follow the crowd, 'cause that's the easy way out. Do things the hard way. Learn
why you do it and always question.

Ryan Berman: He's how old now?
Robert Duran: He's 14.
Ryan Berman: I'm sure he feels like he's grown up a lot faster than he probably wanted to.
Robert Duran: I told him that this morning. I said, "I'm sorry, Tyler." I go, "You're gonna have to
accept growing up faster than you thought. And you are now the only man here in the house. I
only say that because you're gonna have to help your mom with the physical things, and just be
aware of that. Things are gonna get more difficult with your mom having to do more things now.
I'm not gonna be here to help. I'll always be with you, but..." So I just kinda was able to talk to
him about that and, you know, come to closure on that... And we've been really, really, really
close the last three months, and he understands as much as a 14 year-old can understand.
Ryan Berman: Yeah.
Robert Duran: Yeah, he goes, "Dad, I want to drive your '69 Porsche."
Ryan Berman: (laughs)
Robert Duran: So it's ready to go.
Ryan Berman: Oh, yeah.
Robert Duran: Oh, that car is solid. And I go, "But you can't buy coolness. Can't buy coolness.
You’ve got to have it in you. But be humble about it. Know why you're driving it, know why you're
doing it. It's just a machine. It's just something that's there. You know, it's a materialistic thing
that doesn't matter.” So we've had a lot of talks about a lot of things and, uh, I'm happy that
we've had that, 'cause some of those talks I probably never would have had with him 'cause I
would have been around.
Ryan Berman: What about your daughter?
Robert Duran: She's 10. Mentally, she's 21. She's growing fast. She also understands, as much
as she can process it. And, uh, it's great because I get to see them every day. They see me. We
can watch TV or- as a family. We watched Forrest Gump last night, finished that.
Ryan Berman: Such a good movie.
Robert Duran: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Ryan Berman: It's a good rite of passage movie, too.

Robert Duran: Yeah, we watched that and, uh...she's gonna be good. She takes after my wife.
Dots all the Is, crosses all the Ts. It's like, very, very, very, very meticulous. But she also stands
up for herself. And again, I tell everybody, you know, there's the right thing to do and there's
what people do. And people are people. But you know, treat everybody with respect and be
humble about it, you know. And that's all you got to do. Uh, my wife's got a good head on her
shoulders. She's processing this pretty well. She's learned a lot of skills along the way, and I'm
just amazed by her ability to keep track of things and systematically go down the list. And...
Ryan Berman: I mean, 10 years, you guys have been battling and navigating this together, and
I'm sure a range of emotions from exhaustion to, like you said, keeping tabs of the list.
Robert Duran: Yeah, it's crazy. She needs a lot of sleep. A lot of my friends, they need a lot of
sleep. My sisters and brother-in-law needed a lot of sleep. And here I am. I'm at the end stage.
I'm like, you're sleeping? You're sleeping? I guess I better go sleep. But you know, I'm more
tired than normal now, I guess. I guess I'm back to normal status.
Ryan Berman: I loved your text to me about your time here on 1.0. (laughs) It was almost, uh,
you're moving into 2.0. Um, okay, if you could be reincarnated as anything, what would you
come back as?
Robert Duran: A mosquito.
Ryan Berman: Come on.
Robert Duran: (laughs)
Ryan Berman: (laughs)
Robert Duran: Just be a nag to everybody.
Ryan Berman: Oh, come on.
Robert Duran: No, no, no. I wouldn't want to be a mosquito. We had that conversation last
night with a friend of mine, actually. And, uh... That was an interesting conversation. But if I were
to come back, a miracle happens, I just want to be in my right spot, at the right time...right with
my family again. And that'll be the miracle. Reincarnated as myself back into the same
Ryan Berman: I've always felt you and I were simpatico. There was life before cancer, and then
cancer happens. For me, life before cancer was life before courage came into my world. And
most of my time now is talking to brave people like you. That’s where the joy is... I feel like I
really found my purpose when I had the courage to leave my last life, and I love that I get to
spend time like this with guys like you that have such a deep purpose. There's clarity in that

purpose. You didn't ask for cancer, but it shows up. Do you feel like part of that was, like, a
negative blessing for you in a crazy way?
Robert Duran: It was a gift that I received that was something that I just needed to handle
along the way. Just like a bump in the road. Did I wish it never happened? Sure. But the fact that
it happened is the absolute truth, and it allowed me to actually focus on things that really, really
mattered in life. But before that, I had similar qualities. I think it had to do with my upbringing.
This goes back to my dad and him being the first generation here, born in the Philippines,
having to escape the island when another country invaded it. He always wanted the best for me.
And so I lived in a very strict, strict household where I could not make mistakes born of a
ethnicity that was different, you know. Part of me, my creative juices were kept from- were...
How do you say? Were not allowed.
Ryan Berman: Suppressed.
Robert Duran: Were suppressed. I was supposed to go to school, supposed to be an engineer,
supposed to be something, and then, because we didn't have many chances in life, to be better.
And, uh, so finally I think when I had, quote, unquote, made it, so to speak, I decided to just say,
you know what, I'm gonna live my life. I'm gonna live an analog life, even though my life as a
cybersecurity solutions architect, whatever you want to call it, customer solutions architect, is
where my professional life is. I spent most of my life escaping that digital world. I mean, it's
good and it's bad, but it got me centered and it got me to the point where, hey, slow down, relax,
enjoy the ride, because you only have one chance at life. Don't be afraid to live it. Live it, do it,
and that's where my 100% rule comes in. You know?
Ryan Berman: Any regrets? Anything you would do different?
Robert Duran: ... regrets come into my life, but you know what, it would have changed where I
am today. I'd be lying to you if I said no, because that would assume that I'm perfect. And, uh,
there are things that I've done in the past that I'm sorry for and I could have done better things to
support my wife. We work those through, and sometimes you take life for granted. Don't forget
those who are around you that are close to you, as well as the ones that are outside your
bubble. They're all equally as important. There's no do-overs, so to speak, really. It just keeps
living and processing. Sorry's a very, very strong word. And, always, always be willing to listen
and lend an ear. But having regrets, the way it turned out? And the general answer to that is no,
because, um, we're fine here. I've a great wife, great kids, great schools, beach community. Um,
we lived in this house since 2004. I mean, everything's set from a financial perspective. You
know, life insurance policies. There's gonna be intense work that my wife is gonna have to do
on her own, but she'll get help with paperwork. Just things like that. But that's... You can't avoid
that. But it's gonna get hard for them and hard for her, but that's just the way life is. But I think
I've got the kids set, and that's what I wanted. I wanted a boy, I wanted a girl. Got that.
Ryan Berman: The universe.

Robert Duran: Yeah. So I don't have any regrets. None. I mean, I lived it.
Ryan Berman: Um...I just wanted to come see you and...
Robert Duran: Yeah.
Ryan Berman: ... tell you I loved you and, you know...
Robert Duran: Yeah.
Ryan Berman: ... do it- do it the right way.
Robert Duran: Yeah, thanks, man.
Ryan Berman: I think we- we see eye to eye on what's possible for people, and you want more.
I always want more for people. Like you said, it's not about... I never saw it as about me.
Robert Duran: Yeah.
Ryan Berman: If I can be a vessel that moves others.
Robert Duran: Yeah, yeah.
Ryan Berman: Let's say someone's listening to this...they're all ears, what do you want to let
them know?
Robert Duran: Well, you know...I do say I have one regret. I'm gonna back up really quick
before I answer that question, 'cause there's a tie-in to that last question. I do regret coming out
of my shell a little bit late.
Ryan Berman: Mm.
Robert Duran: I never knew that I had a talent or a gift to explain things in ways that people can
understand. I had a work call yesterday and I had no idea how people saw me from the outside
in. I'm like, I had that much of an effect on others, and here I am just kinda just going along
doing what I'm doing. I never did it to make myself feel better. I never did it to, like, improve
them on purpose. It's just, that's what they felt from what...even the CEO of my last company,
uh, Paul Vixie, who is in the Internet Hall of Fame, father of DNS, said that when I had worked
for him, that the company came up ahead because of me being there. And I thought that I
wasn't good enough.
Ryan Berman: Mm-hmm.

Robert Duran: That's probably my upbringing, that I was never good enough as a person to do
anything. So I wish I would have come out of my shell early. I wish I would have shared my story
with a wider audience. I wish I would have been more proactive with what I've got. And that's
probably the only regret, because I would have probably been able to reach more people, tell
my story and give them hope. But I still continue to do it now, even though I sit on this bed here
as I wait for things to happen.
Ryan Berman: I think a lot of us feel like we're not enough.
Robert Duran: Uh-huh.
Ryan Berman: I'm supposed to do this or supposed to do that.
Robert Duran: Mm-hmm.
Ryan Berman: I'm curious if you have anything you want to share with that audience about how
they should go for it.
Robert Duran: You know, I could answer that in five hours.
Ryan Berman: (laughs)
Robert Duran: But we won't...Sometimes you have to zig when everybody zags, but don't zig
too much, because when you zig too much then it's almost like, and in my opinion, you could
lose sight of why you're zigging while people zag.
Ryan Berman: Mm-hmm.
Robert Duran: What I have learned is, uh, always listen. Be truthful and be transparent, right?
And always work for something that's gonna make a difference, not just something to check off
a box. That's my message.
Ryan Berman: I will continue to support and listen and be here for your squad, if they need me.
Robert Duran: Thanks, Ryan. Appreciate it.
Ryan Berman: I'll see you in the 2.0.
Robert Duran: Yeah. Oh, you will.

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