Written by: Jon Kessler, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
There is a Japanese proverb that goes “fear is only as deep as the mind allows.” What does this mean regarding the fear of being told you have cancer? How does fear of not knowing what comes next or what will happen to block us from accepting the diagnosis, embracing the challenges, and fighting as powerfully as possible?
When I was diagnosed with Stage 3A Colon Cancer in 2017, I was told I needed to find an oncologist and surgeon as soon as possible. Because I was so overwhelmed with fear of what was going to happen, I deferred to a nurse at my gastroenterologist’s office to refer me to the doctors I needed. I remember the fear of being told what the surgery and recovery would be like. What the biopsy told us and how treatment would affect me. Plus there was the fear over the past 6 years of cancer somehow returning. Even though my oncologist assured me that would be unlikely, as cancer patients we cannot live without being 100% sure. But we cannot live our lives with that cloud over our heads. It is important to think about how to move beyond fear and choose to live each moment as normal as we possibly can. When a client comes to me after a recent diagnosis, the first session we deal with is fear. I send them a form and ask them to list up to 10 things they are afraid of happening to them during their cancer journeys. It is up to them to figure this out themselves. I then ask them to share which one(s) they are most concerned about. This allows them to focus on those that may hold them back. It also provides me, as their coach, the opportunity to focus our discussion on these specific issues. Time is important to both of us. I want them to feel that their work with me is providing what they want to feel empowered. One of the techniques I learned while getting my certification is tapping into past successes. This involves asking a client to share a positive change in their life and how they made that change. When it comes to the fear of a cancer diagnosis, I ask my clients to share an episode in their lives where they have overcome some fear and what they did. This exercise starts to help them see that the fear of cancer is not so different. However, sometimes a client is not able to move past the fears so easily. Then we can break things down into sub-issues and take them one at a time. Coaching may involve drilling down to very specific blocks for a client for them to move forward. When it comes to cancer patients specifically, even small issues are important to them and we work as a team to get through them. As the proverb says above, once a client’s mind stops the fear from blocking them, they take the first step to thriving along their journeys. If you feel that fear is holding you back from moving forward, I recommend you try to remember a time when you were able to let go of the fear and continue on the path you were traveling. It does work!!
Jon Kessler, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Jon Kessler is a Cancer Coach, a former patient himself who works with recently diagnosed patients. He works with them one-to-one, using his proprietary program to take them from fear of the unknown to life after cancer and writing the next chapter of their stories. His motto is "taking you from surviving to thriving". Jon also presents workshops to cancer organizations and support groups around the world. He also also been featured on a radio program on the island of Dominica. He is the founder and owner of Cancer Care Coaching, LLC.