Mike Verano

Mike Verano is a licensed professional counselor, licensed marriage and family therapist and thymic cancer survivor with over 30 years experience in the mental health field. Mike has had articles published in national and international magazines and is the author of The Zen of Cancer: A Mindful Journey From Illness to Wellness. In addition, he maintains the blog, Confessions of a Pacifist in the War on Cancer. He and his wife, Kathy, live in Lanexa, Virginia.


The Last Scan?

June 24, 2020

Ten years ago, as I was approaching my first follow-up scan, I asked a seasoned cancer survivor if the anxiety of going through these rituals ever got easier. Without hesitation, she smiled and said "no."

Surviving With Purpose

April 26, 2020

Purpose directs the energy outward, and when tied to a beneficent cause, the experience is that of being connected to a deeper source— worry for self becomes compassion for others.

On Cancer and Aging, Part 2

January 16, 2019

It would be unrealistic to suggest that one is ever completely free of the shadow of cancer – after all, shadows are the direct result of light.

On Aging and Cancer, Part 1

January 08, 2019

I often joke in training classes on aging that with every new candle on my birthday cake, a new medicine bottle shows up in my cabinet.

Paying Back the Kindness After Cancer

December 01, 2018

As people who have "been there, done that," our very presence provides a new arrival on the cancer rollercoaster a sense of stability and certainty.

When Boring is Excellent: The Ups and Downs of Cancer Follow-Up Appointments

August 28, 2018

Waiting to hear if one’s blood is showing any signs of the monster’s return has never been easy.

It's Not Always Cancer

March 21, 2018

Cancer has taught me to be stoic when necessary, needy when appropriate and mindful at all times that the physical body is both fragile and resilient.

With Cancer, Celebrate Hope

June 12, 2017

As any cancer survivor is aware, the blossom of hope can be a fragile flower.

A Chemotherapy No-Brainer

May 10, 2017

It appears that we survivors have, at long last, been taken seriously about our reports of problems with mental functioning as a result of chemotherapy.

Living In The Shadow of Cancer

April 20, 2017

When I think of living in cancer's shadow, my mind immediately jumps to the dark body that is my constant companion and seems to, paradoxically, grow stronger the brighter the light.

Cancer: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

March 13, 2017

I guess I’m old school when it comes to a cancer diagnosis. I have always assumed there are three types of cancer—the good (which is a diagnosis of “no cancer”), the bad and the ugly.

Lucky Me? Facing the Cancer Odds

March 03, 2017

That cancer strikes at the very fabric of one’s understanding of why things happen the way they do is what makes this illness so insidious.

Sowing Seeds of Wellness: Flourishing After A Cancer Diagnosis

February 23, 2017

Once the unwanted growth of one’s cancer is addressed, how does one prepare the psychological inner terrain to receive the healing nurturance that carries one from illness to wellness?

Cancer: The Emperor Has Old Clothes

February 09, 2017

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Siddhartha Mukherjee, refers to cancer as the "emperor of all maladies."

Back to the Moon: On Becoming a "Cancernaut"

December 14, 2016

When I unexpectedly joined the cancer program, just before my 50th birthday, I was sure I had the “right stuff” to meet the challenge.

Reframing the Cancer Experience

December 01, 2016

I actively encourage all my clients experiencing life-altering stressors to trick the mind using the art of reframing.

The Last Post

September 12, 2016

Since being diagnosed with thymic cancer late in 2009, I have written articles, a book and blogged about the cancer experience mostly as a therapeutic exercise — a way to cast the demon outside of myself — and as an offering to others survivors.

Playing the Cancer Card

September 01, 2016

One of the methods my wife and I developed to ward of the cynicism that comes when faced with such an unrelenting foe is something we call "playing the cancer card."

The Dos and Don'ts of Waiting on Cancer Test Results

August 17, 2016

Whoever said there's no way to make time stand still clearly never had to endure the excruciating wait for scan results.

The Healing Power of "Why" for Patients With Cancer

July 29, 2016

One often hears cancer survivors proclaim with pride, honor and dignity, “I never asked why this happened to me.” Unintentionally, this sets the standard for those who follow, creating the unwritten rule that asking why is to admit weakness, to be unfit for battle.

Seriously? Finding the Lighter Side of Cancer

July 19, 2016

If we're going to head into the deep waters of the meaning of life after a cancer diagnosis, why not strap on the laughing gas along with the oxygen tank?

Coping with the Trauma of Cancer

July 12, 2016

If it’s true that cancer can pull the rug out from underneath the most sane and rational among us, why is not also true that we respond with the psychological equivalent of CPR, or, at the very least, an emotional Heimlich maneuver?

Moving On After Cancer

June 28, 2016

There are many ways that survivors are encouraged, prodded and cajoled toward the idea that in order to fully recover from cancer we need leave the role of cancer patient behind.

Grace Under Pressure: Facing the Follow-Up Visit After Cancer

June 18, 2016

Unpredictability is par for the course when it comes to a cancer diagnosis. However, I have found a strange comfort in a very reliable pattern when it comes to preparing for follow-up visits.

Half-Empty: A Pessimist's Guide to Cancer

June 10, 2016

Coming face-to-face with a cancer diagnosis not only shakes the very ground beneath one’s feet, it sends tremors throughout the mental landscape that constitute one’s worldview.

Start Making Sense: The Commercialization of Cancer

May 24, 2016

There is a new cancer center commercial that, quite frankly, freaks me out.

Rage Against the Disease: The Anger Stage of Cancer Grief

May 16, 2016

I’ve found in myself, and many of the survivors I’ve met in counseling sessions, that of all the stages of grief, anger seems to have the greatest staying power.

On Life and Living: Cancer and the Stages of Grief: Part 1

May 09, 2016

Those of us touched by cancer know all too well that the stages of grief are not linear—not steps we move along with the precise choreography of ballet dancers.

Cancer Fatigue

May 02, 2016

It makes perfect sense to me now that exhaustion is one of the byproducts of cancer treatment. As blood counts drop, cells die, and the mental stress and strain builds, the vital energy force no longer flows like a raging river—it has all the power of a dripping faucet.

Cancer and Family Survivors

April 20, 2016

We lost a good man to cancer not that long ago but you most certainly didn’t hear about it. He was a teacher, husband, father, mentor, coach and survivor right up to the end.