My Five Big Secrets for Cancer Survivorship


A long-time stage magician and cancer survior shares a few tricks

I don't mean to be overly dramatic, but as a full-time stage magician for 40 years, I have a thing about “secrets.”

So when I was invited to speak at a recent breast cancer convention, I decided, after giving some serious thought to the subject, to share the top five strategies incorporated into my own life to aid me in my quest to remain cancer-free.

I was diagnosed with male breast cancer just two years ago. It was Mother’s Day, May 11, 2014.

And while I am rather new to this “cancer club”, I have spent long hours reading, researching and looking closely at my own beliefs and attitudes in order to create my best plan of action.

Firstly, and against the advice of two prominent oncologists, one in Honolulu and the other in San Diego, I elected to forgo the five years of Tamoxifen and six weeks of Adriamycin that were suggested to me. My reasons are personal and complex and were made after much soul searching and thorough research. I don’t recommend my way to anyone, but I am perfectly at peace with my choices.

There’s also a story behind my choice. My first wife died of ovarian cancer at the age of 47. The years prior to her death were comprised of clinical trials, chemotherapies, food tubes, surgeries, lung taps, hair loss and more. Of course, medicine has changed dramatically in the 20 years since her death, but I freely admit that some of my ideas were germinated as her caregiver, observing her suffering way back then. Additionally, in the case of male breast cancer, little is known and few protocols have been created and tested, so we are left to accept the same treatments that are designed for women, or to find our own way. And not unexpectedly, the pharmaceutical companies have shown little interest in investing in an “orphan disease”.

That will change in time, but for now I am both willing and capable of making my own best choices.

So here then, are my five “secrets” to surviving cancer:

Again, these are mine. I have no book or infomercial to pitch my ideas. I have no interest in convincing anybody to follow my list. In fact, unless and until my cancer returns, I have no way of knowing the effectiveness of any of this. I only know that as cancer survivors we need to find something we believe in, whether it’s an idea that comes from a doctor, a bestselling book or from our own hearts. The cure for cancer begins with a dream, an idea and a plan. Here’s mine:

1. Laugh often and find humor everywhere. I’m a certified Laughter Yoga Teacher and I know first hand that laughter heals. I laugh when I’m happy, frightened or discouraged. When we laugh, we are breathing and the breath is a wonderful, healing tool.

2. Get involved. Write. Blog. Talk. Share. Help. I write for several national magazines, blogs and periodicals. Sharing is my greatest healing tool and it doesn’t have to be great stuff, just real stuff.

3. Believe in being well. Trust that life is perfect, just as it is and see what it feels like to drop the notion that things are "good" or "bad". Things just are. Step out of your thoughts and live the actual moment. I sit in Zen mediation each day as well.

4. Exercise. I was a competitive runner for decades, with 13 marathons and hundreds of 10k races under my feet. Now I can no longer run and that's OK. Walk if you can. Even a little sitting and stretching in a chair will work. Get outside every day if possible. Move. And laugh while you’re moving!

5. Add music to your life! Listen to it. Play an instrument if you're able. Sing to yourself. Hear the music of the world around you, like buzzing insects, singing birds, the sound of your own heart beat or favorite band or singer. Music heals.

These simple tools, along with the addition of strong doses of pure Turmeric are my own blueprint for healing. I look forward to including these inspiring routines into my life every day.

Make your own list. And don’t stop believing that it can work for you. Believe that impossibilities can be possible. Believe that all possibilities are in fact probable. And know that the probabilities in your life can be absolutely certain. In other words, take a bit of advice from an old Conjurer: Believe in your own magic.

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