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4 Kinda Cool Things I Learned From Having Cancer

I know I’ll never be Thor, but I do know the best way to ingest fungus.
PUBLISHED November 27, 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 you battle cancer, well, you learn things. All kinds of things. Below are four things I’ve learned over the years of kicking cancer in the face.


Personally, I know I’ve become more empathetic after battling cancer and its effects from treatment. I’m sure that other survivors have probably become more empathetic as well. Today, I don’t just identify with those going through cancer, but I can identify with others facing many other types of adversity. So, cancer, I friggin’ hate your guts for trying to ruin mine. I have no empathy for you, but I thank you for helping me to identify with those who have struggles of their own.

I’ll never be Thor

This is a surprise, and a bit disappointing for me, but I’ve come to realize I’ll never be as jacked as Chris Hemsworth in the movie Thor—and actually, that’s not because of cancer. Anyway though, because of cancer, I have become more self-aware in terms of my body and being healthy. I eat better, and even though my lungs and heart have been through absolute hell, I lift weights and exercise regularly. So yeah, I’ll never be Thor, but being in as good of shape as I can possibly be has helped me tremendously as I’ve dealt with the side effects of cancer treatment.

How to avoid being bored

As I wrote about in one of my last articles, lots of chemo can lead to a compromised immune system—and a compromised immune system can lead to a bit of isolation. Isolation can lead to frustration, unsavory language and seeing things that aren’t really there (maybe that part was meds). That’s OK though, because with isolation, you learn to fight the alone-time and boredom. For me, I’ve become "bore-proof. " Really, it’s a thing. I can always find something to do, no matter what the situation. Even if it’s just sitting around thinking, "Well, at least I don’t have to have a huge needle pushed into my hip later."

How to ingest fungus

When I was first diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma as a kid, the doctors thought it would be a good idea to remove my spleen. I did not. After the surgery, they put me on penicillin—and I took it for years. The problem was that the pills tasted horrible, you know, fungus and all. After a while, I started putting the pills under my tongue before swallowing them. That’s how I learned to take pills and is how I take pills to this day. This is useless information, I get it. But if there is one takeaway here, when things get uncomfortable, or even taste bad, you can adjust and make things work.

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