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. www.BreastCancerSpeaker.com www.MaleBreastCancerSurvivor.com
Cancer may be a lonely disease, but at the end of the day, we're all in this together.
I can think of so many reasons to be uneasy when it comes to surviving my breast cancer. It's natural, after all, to be uncomfortable with those things in our lives that we can't control. And the way I see it, that includes almost everything.
As a longtime student of Zen Meditation, I have learned to recognize the many ways in which my brain might attempt to manipulate my future. I don't want pain in my life any more than the next cancer survivor, but pain is often part of healing. We can always take measures to help insure our good health, or plan our retirement, or work toward our ideal vocation, but we can't change the natural flow of life and death.
And what "natural" means is different for all of us. And whether I believe that there is a reason why some of us get cancer or if I simply chalk it up to bad luck, it is and always will be a part of my life. And my life, like everyone's, is in a constant state of change.
Change itself just may be the primary cause for apprehension in our world. And there is very little that is "stable" in the world of cancer survival.
So, our ability to go with the flow, to pick ourselves up and move onward and upward is a huge benefit to those of us sharing in this cancer disease.
But what are we to do when we hurt, or we slide into that long, cold MRI tube, or we have a recurrence of cancer?
If you're like me, you'll feel a significant surge of apprehension. Perhaps the worst thing we could do (and I hate to say it, but guys are pretty good at this) is to avoid the discomfort of not knowing. We can mask our symptoms but we're not very good at masking our feelings.
Our bodies know.
And as a result, we can produce a good amount of that stress hormone known as cortisol, which, in turn, can take us on an out-of-control roller coaster ride that begins with apprehension and has the potential to end in terror.
Through my own cancer experience, I have found that part of the process of stopping at apprehension, instead of jumping into the realm of full-on fear, lies in my willingness to see myself in a unified field of healing with many fellow cancer survivors.
That very fact is possibly one reason why so many of us turn to CURE, where we can see that our own cancer encounters are not really solo events. Here, we can find solace and some comfort in seeing our personal experiences and feelings expressed over and over again by those with cancer in their lives.
There are many ways to deal with apprehension as we push to survive. I've never been reluctant to let a milligram of Ativan slow down my panic reflex when undergoing cancer tests. But there are lots of natural ways to relax as well, including meditation, positive imagery, Laughter Yoga, breath work, self-hypnosis, exercise, music or chanting and more.
Let that soft wave of apprehension be your cue. It's a good signal that your body is gearing up for a battle of sorts, and it's the perfect time to remember the more than 1,688,780 new cancer survivors in the U.S. who join us every year, and possibly find themselves discovering that it really is easier to let the appreciation of being alive outshine the apprehension of having cancer.