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How I Killed Time While Killing Cancer

I was diagnosed with cancer, quit my job, put college on hold, started chemo, didn't get a role in "Saving Private Ryan" and started digging in the dirt.
PUBLISHED September 22, 2017
Ryan Hamner is a four-time survivor of Hodgkin lymphoma, a musician, and an award-winning author. In 2011, he wrote and recorded, "Where Hope Lives" for the American Cancer Society and the song for survivors, "Survivors Survive" used in 2015 for #WorldCancerDay. Recently, he published his book, This is Remission: A Four-Time Cancer Survivor's Memories of Treatment, Struggle, and Life, available on Amazon. His website is
When people are diagnosed with cancer, life changes dramatically, needless to say. Many have to deal with things like loss of income, a heap of medical bills, lower energy levels and are forced to cut back on a once active social life. This leaves many depressed.

When I was last diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma in 1998, I had a great job, was in college and had plenty of friends and family to spend my time with. But treatment for cancer changed all of that. I had to quit my job, temporarily put college on hold, stop going to the gym and was unable to hang out with friends as often as before. I also had to give up my role in the movie, "Saving Private Ryan"—no not really. I just totally made that up.

Anyway, I became depressed. I felt totally isolated, bored and like I had nothing to look forward to. It was then that I decided to look for other outlets to keep me occupied, sane and with a sense of fulfillment on a daily basis—very similar to the topic of "small wins” that I talk about in one of my other articles.

Working out has always been something very important to me, but with cancer treatment, going to the gym was not an option. I refused to totally quit working out, though. So, I simply modified my workout. I bought some dumbbells that were very light. You know like the five-pound weights you buy at Walmart that are coated in rubber? Yes, I greatly scaled back the intensity of my “workout,” but it felt really good to be active in some capacity.

I didn’t just stop with the workout though. I needed a few more hobbies to occupy my time. I ended up doing things I never thought I’d do. I started collecting coins, which led to me buying a metal detector. Wow, I just admitted that to the world—and finally, I became an eBay seller. I never expected this hobby to take off like it did, but I eventually became an eBay Powerseller. 

With the combination of all of these hobbies, I now had more reason to get up everyday, other than for just going to the clinic. I had something to look forward to. I mean, who wouldn’t be excited about digging in the dirt for hours to find a few pennies?

Here’s the deal, whether you dig in the dirt or not, you may have to alter your life with cancer, but you can still have a life with cancer.
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