Where I Keep My Focus While Fighting Cancer


I've learned that with cancer, there’s a difference between cathartic venting (a natural stage of grief) and falling into a victim mindset.

The world is angry at cancer.

And I totally get it. To an extent, disease can result from our choices, environment and lifestyle… but then there’s the random cases, or people with unfortunate genetics. Back during treatment, for example, I spent a year on the pediatrics floor receiving chemotherapy (at 30 years old) next to infants and toddlers who really seemed like they just got a tough break.

So yes, anger, frustration and venting — particularly among cancer fighters— is totally warranted. You will most likely receive validation and that can be comforting.

However, from my perspective, I’ve tried not to get caught up in those feelings. Not too much at least. I mean come on, I had my first wedding canceled at 30, after my bone cancer diagnosis. Then, after a year of hardcore chemo, an 18-hour surgeryand multiple recurrences the following year, my wife and I pushed ourselves to try again for a wedding, which turned out to be one of the greatest days of my life.

A week later I had my follow up appointment. Instead of going off on a honeymoon, scans showed more recurrences and doctors told me I had a less than 10% survival rate.

My point is that after all the surgeries, recurrences, a terrifying prognosis and my executive recruiting career being destroyed overnight, most people would say I have a right to be pissed off.

But there’s a difference between cathartic venting (a natural stage of grief) and falling into a victim mindset.

I’ve done my best to focus on what I have power over. I can’t control everything in cancer or life in general, but I work with what I can.

For example, harnessing my thoughts, feelings and visualization on the end result of being healed, achieving long-term sustainable wellness… And being grateful for having received that, in advance.

This keeps my mind in a more empowered state, and just feels better. Also, since thoughts have been shown to affect our immune system, by focusing on positive thoughts, I’m doing everything I can to give myself the best chance possible at being healthy. (I also take consistent action every day with all my healing regimens and routines, but getting my thoughts right sets the foundation.)

I’m definitely not perfect. There have been growing pains, breakdownsand some days I’m just in a bad mood.

The key is to catch myself and make the adjustments as soon as possible. The way I see it, you can stay focused on “worrying about disease” or you can keep your attention on “working towards wellness.” I prefer the latter.

If you’re reading this and feeling beaten down by your diagnosis, or whatever doctors or society might be telling you, or if there just seems like no answer in sight… I’ve been there.

I spent years operating on blind faith, researching and experimenting for alternative healing regimens after chemo didn’t stop my cancer. If you ever have questions or just need to vent, I’ll do the best I can to help — shoot me a note at steve@othercword.com and I’m always looking to support the community.

But above all else, protect your sense of belief and keep an open mind that if you put out all the right energy, and keep learning and adjusting, unexpected solutions just might come out of nowhere; results may change over time.

It’s happened before and it can happen for you. From my experience, it’s much more likely if you keep your focus solution-oriented and your destination set on wellness… One day at a time.

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