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 www.ryanhamner.com
Here's my advice on all that non-expert advice.
With having cancer, there comes lots of emotions, treatments, forgetfulness, confusion, funny aftertastes, curse words and, well, advice. I mean, I'm pretty sure that anyone who offers advice to someone battling cancer means well, but you know, some of the advice and things I've heard over the years gives me that same little feeling I get when someone's knife screeches into their plate.
"You should probably just take a break for a while."
I used to hear this one a lot about working out. I'm definitely not some dude you'll see on the front of “Muscle Fitness,” but I like to work out. It makes me feel good. And no, I don't carry a big jug around the gym.
The issue has been that any time I have any type of health event, the answer from many people has always been to stop working out for a while. I have heard this from a lot of people who didn't work out, at all. Let me say this, I know these people care about me and I genuinely appreciate it. I do. I promise. So, I don't want to sound like a jerk here. However, unless the doc says so, working out is something I have to do for myself. It's not always about going to the gym and pushing myself as much as I can physically. Even if I have to scale back my workout by 80 percent, the mental benefits of my workout are immeasurable — especially in times of stress and worry. A completed workout is a "win" for me.
"Try this, it will help."
Although I do believe in alternative medicine, don't offer me your neon octopus root (I made that up, but I bet it's a thing.) grown remotely in South America by an ancient tribe from the skies. I've made the mistake before of taking some magic root of a root's root, only to have my heart about beat out of my already-cracked sternum. Remember, a lot of these funny-named supplements can whip your butt. And they can be especially dangerous for people who already have health conditions and/or are on treatment.
"Ah, you will be fine."
Sometimes, you might hear this line after denying one's offering of some natural cure or supplement, like the neon octopus root. But I've also heard it used in dire emergencies. It's often used as a downplay line. Like some of those times just before my resting heart rate soared through the roof. I told medical staff I was having issues, but was often told, "you will be fine." I appreciate the keeping me calm thing, but sometimes I know when I won't be fine.
Look folks, do what you need to do to get the medical attention you need. Walk out into the hall of your hospital room and ask, "Who makes the decisions around here," if you have to. It works, especially if you forget your hospital gown. I'm not saying do that, but someone might start thinking something is definitely not fine if you do. Consider that the nuclear option.
Whoever is downplaying your issue "will be fine" (usually) if you decide to turn up the heat on getting yourself the attention you need.