Fighting Cancer is a Game of Adjustments


I remember hearing somewhere that there’s no such thing as achieving the perfect balance; rather, life itself is an act of constant rebalancing. I've found that to be true in life with cancer.

cartoon drawing of blogger and sarcoma survivor, Steve Rubin

I remember hearing somewhere that there’s no such thing as achieving the perfect balance; rather, life itself is an act of constant rebalancing.

As someone who greatly values the state of balance and also has perfectionist tendencies, that helped to hear. It took some of the pressure off and helped me reframe how I approach my life, and based on personal experience, I’d say the same philosophy can apply to fighting cancer.

Back when I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare and aggressive bone cancer, I quickly learned that treatment and a quest for wellness is a crazy ride where you never quite have full control (or much at all). And without control, getting fixated on achieving results can quickly lead to stress and exhaustion.

Scans are a perfect example. Any cancer fighter knows the brutal anxiety that shows up each time while waiting on the latest updates. You’re just sitting there helplessly in agony, awaiting your fate… Are the drugs and our approaches working? What if things have taken a wrong turn?

That’s why somewhere along the way, I learned to try my best to focus on process over results (easier said than done, for sure). This has required doing the best I can every day and taking each step of treatment one day at a time; it’srequired continuous growth and learning, and staying disciplined… and most importantly, it has required making adjustments.

Staying fluid with smart adjustments— constantly assessing the landscape and paying attention to my body as well as external results has been the name of the game. That and taking a longer term, “trust-the-process” approach, which requires faith (and in my situation, blind faith).

While fighting cancer, there are so many aspects where adjustments are needed. Regrouping after an emotional medical appointment or a setback in how your body reacts to treatment; changing tactics based on scan results; learning how to adjust to different emotional states and exhaustion; responding to changes in weekly rhythms and schedules, adjusting to the never-ending state of heightened uncertainty that comes with a cancer diagnosis. Even adjusting to the people in your life who may not know how to behave around you.

In my case, the need for adjustments became even more critical after multiple recurrences brought on a less-than-10% prognosis and doctors essentially ran out of answers. Chemo hadn’t stopped the cancer and I found myself with no choice but to explore the world of alternative healing with new supplements and holistic regimens.

There wasn’t as much clinical research backing these healing approaches and I didn’t want to act reckless, so I stayed light on my feet and listened to my body. I worked with a functional doctor to take comprehensive blood tests and we created and adjusted a supplement plan every few months.

I tried many different healing techniques over the years, in both the conventional and alternative healing realms. Some worked, some didn’t click. The most important part was being my own advocate and making sure I felt comfortable with each decision.

The next most important part was trusting in myself to keep making the next necessary adjustment.

I’ve since overcome the statistics and managed to turn my health around, despite how doctors told me they’d never seen anyone in my situation do so. I believe getting actively involved in the process and staying fluid played a big role in reaching that success. To any cancer fighters with questions, feel free to reach out at — I love hearing from other cancer fighters and giving back to the community just like other thrivers helped me when I needed it most.

And remember, while fighting cancer can feel incredibly intimidating and overwhelming at times, do the best you can to keep things simple:

1) One good decision at a time, one day at a time.

2) Adjust as necessary!

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