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Believing in the Day After Tomorrow

A male breast cancer survivor discovers that looking ahead may be good for our health.
PUBLISHED September 30, 2019
Khevin Barnes is a Male Breast Cancer survivor, magician and speaker. He is currently writing, composing and producing a comedy stage musical about Male Breast Cancer Awareness. He travels wherever he is invited to speak to (and do a little magic for) men and women about breast cancer.

Cancer found a way to challenge my future in more ways than I could have imagined. When I was diagnosed with male breast cancer at the age of 64, I had mostly decided to end the long years of travel and performances as a professional stage magician that had been my full time work for several decades. It wasn't my choice to stop, but the concerns and daily challenges that came with my disease were a disruption that arrested the momentum of life as I knew it. Cancer has a way of misdirecting our enthusiasm from so many of those things we hold dear; those things we identify as being what we think of as "us".

I've often refuted the notion that I was somehow a victim of this cancer disease, but in retrospect I can see how breast cancer sort of took the magic out of my life - at least, until now. I recently got a call from an agent that I had worked with almost 10 years ago. He had no idea, of course, of my cancer history, and wanted to know if I was available for a series of shows for a festival in Arizona?

I was startled by the doubt and apprehension that I felt, but equally intrigued by the possibility of finding a long-lost connection with something that had great significance in my life. My vocation may be a bit different from many of the people I know, but the ability to be sidetracked by this disease we share no matter what we see as our calling in life is something that any of us might relate to.

How has cancer sidetracked you? How has cancer limited your view and your options to experience more of the things you love? Where have you been restricted by the daily, incessant demands of living with your life-threatening disease?

I'm writing this now because tomorrow morning I will be on the road, traveling to a far away city with a car-load of magic apparatus and an eye toward the future. I have no idea of how this will look when it's all over. I'm a little slower, a little grayer and a little older than I was the last time I did this. But the way I see it is, if you have a love, a passion, an interest, a longing, a calling or an item on your bucket list that seems too distant to be attainable, look again. Many of us with cancer in our bodies learn to live one day at a time and I don't plan on changing that, but having an ambition that pulls us forward and adds vigor to our lives seems like good medicine to me.

There is something, both out there and within our true selves, that is inviting all of us with cancer to not only imagine and strive for a fulfilling future, but to truly believe that there is, in fact, a day after tomorrow.

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