The Lessons Only Cancer Could Teach Me
Spring is a time of new growth, rebirth and renewal, when we can look back on where we’ve been and plant seeds to change where we’re going.
This Spring is special for me because my new book, I Used to Have Cancer, was just released this past Monday and already climbed to the top of the Amazon rankings. This book is a seed I’d like to plant in each of your lives, to grow hope in you that you can overcome anything if you set your mind and heart to fight for it.
As I look back, I marvel at how a diagnosis can change everything. More than thirty years ago, I beat terminal Stage IV Melanoma cancer – when doctors said I couldn’t. My perfect world – my wife, our baby daughter, our home and the businesses we had built, everything I was looking forward to in life – came to a sudden and painful halt. I hoped with all my being that doctor was wrong – but he wasn’t – and my whole world crumbled before my eyes.
From Devastating Diagnosis to Miracle Mindset
I learned that when conventional medicine gives up on you, seeds of hope can come from unexpected places, change you into a health warrior and help you grow the strength to fight for your life. I’ll never forget lying in the hospital bed, feeling as though I’d been thrown in the ring with the heavyweight champion of the world – and I didn’t even know how to box. But I prayed like I have never prayed before, with every cell of my being, and it wasn’t long at all before three knocks on my door changed everything.
Each person who knocked on my door brought an unconventional tool I needed to change that devastating diagnosis into a miracle mindset. I knew the fight for my life wasn’t over, but it wasn’t in that hospital, either. At two o’clock in the morning, still weak from the experimental chemotherapy treatments I had endured, I crawled out of my hospital bed, stumbled into the parking lot, and managed to get into my Jeep. Driving up to the gatekeeper, I paid my parking fee and left – never to return. And while it may not have been exactly a dashing escape, it was a successful one.
If I Had to Do It All Over Again
I wouldn’t wish cancer on my worst enemy – beating it was the hardest battle I’ve ever fought. And the truth is, there’s still no “magic bullet” for killing cancer – it’s a complicated disease. Each person’s battle is unique, and there is more than one pathway back to health. Navigating the maze of information that’s out there can be confusing, so let’s roll up our sleeves together and go to work fighting this sneaky enemy. I want to share with you 5 things I would do today if I had to do it all over again.
- Follow Up with A Trusted Friend. I remember what it felt like to hear those words “you have cancer.” It’s like the bottom drops out of your world, and you can’t always hear what your doctor has to say next, no matter how important it is. Schedule a follow-up appointment and bring a trusted friend or loved one who has a good head on their shoulders and can take notes for you. Come up with a list of questions to ask that will help guide you in the decisions you need to make about your health in the coming days. If you don’t know where to start, I have a list of what I would ask in Chapter 11 in my book.
- Count the Costs. Your doctor may recommend treatments that aren’t covered by your medical insurance, but you won’t know until you ask your insurance. And most alternative treatments aren’t covered by insurance or may not be approved by a Flex Spending (FSA) account if you have one. Getting well shouldn’t be about money, but you need to make your decisions with your eyes wide open to every aspect, and plans need to be made for the money that has to be spent.
- Get a Second Opinion. Unfortunately, medical errors happen. Getting another set of eyes on your results is easier and more important than ever in this electronic age. Knowing what I know now, my second opinion would come from the best integrative, functional doctor I could find who is familiar with natural cancer treatments. If I were going the conventional route, I would seek out opinions from the best surgeons and oncologists known to treat the exact type of cancer I’m facing.
- Immediately Make a Plan and Take Action.Take charge of your own health and enlist the help of trusted loved ones when needed. Don’t sit in fear, hoping the cancer will go away on its own. Don’t let “analysis paralysis” stall your plans; while the information can be overwhelming, you need to keep moving. Action, in itself, is therapeutic, and you have no time to lose. There are many things that can be done at home that seem like common sense, but don’t underestimate their power.
- Take Control of Your Health. The good news is you are not a victim of your genetics. The science of epigenetics is showing us that we have more control over our health than we may realize. Genes – good or bad – don’t switch themselves on. It’s the environment they’re in that does that – the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, how we handle stress – our daily lifestyle choices determine which genes turn on and are expressed. You can change your gene expression by changing their environment and your lifestyle – and that’s a big deal.
Rewrite Your Own Story
It’s time for you to take control of whatever battle you are facing and rewrite your own story. Start with hope and believing in what you’re doing. I’d like to help. I know each of us is unique and has struggles no one else has faced, but we’re all in this together and can support each other during the dark times.
Today, over thirty years after my devastating diagnosis, I’m still vibrantly healthy and happy, and I want that for you, too. The reason I share my story and the tools I used to regain my life in I Used to Have Canceris because I want you to know – without a doubt – that no matter what you are facing, there is hope. You can win any fight – even cancer – with the right weapons.