Thank you for visiting The Way of the Cancer Warrior home page. I hope to share with you the story behind why this book was written, what it’s all about, and how I think it can help you. Here’s a video to start:
HOW THIS BOOK WAS BORN
Cancer has launched an all out attack on my family. It has taken lives, caused suffering and hardships, and dragged some of the people I love the most into the pits of hell. Maybe your family has experienced some of the same? For this is a worldwide attack. It seems as if everyone I know knows someone else battling the disease.
It hit my home like a sucker punch to the gut in 2009. My dad was diagnosed with Stage-4 throat cancer. For the next four years, he faced some kind of challenge every single day — chemo, radiation, surgeries, feeding tubes, trachea tube, etc. Yet he kept putting one foot in front of the other, marching on, and fighting with a warrior’s spirit — all the while carrying his trademark smile on his face. The dude was a legend.
My family dealt with my dad’s battle in a variety of ways – cards, comforting words, taking his mind off of it with parties, sharing stories, vacations, passing the time watching sports, etc. These were all great gestures and acts that he appreciated.
I dealt with it the only way I know how – writing. My entire career has been spent in the health & fitness industry. I’ve somehow been able to stay in business as a writer, speaker, and personal trainer for close to 15 years. Not bad for a vagabond huh? I’ve written fitness books and articles for a variety of magazines. I’ve worked with a variety of professional and competitive athletes. I’ve also worked with corporate wellness programs and busy professionals.
Part of my success as a coach is that I’m good at motivating people to do the things they DON’T want to do, in order to achieve the goals they DO want. I can’t make them do it, I can’t do it for them, but I can certainly use my skills and strategies to help them find their own personal motivation that will carry them through their journey. The best programs in the world, in any endeavor, are meaningless unless they are actually followed.
After 15 years of working with people, you get to learn what makes people tick, what trips people up, what causes them to veer off the path, what helps them get back on it, common roadblocks that stall progress, and common strategies that help them blast through plateaus. I guess you could say you develop “street psychology” skills.
Cancer pissed me off man, and I wasn’t just going to sit back on the sideline and do nothing. I wanted to find a way to fight back. I racked my brain to figure out the best way I could fight alongside my dad, the best way I could make a difference in my family’s ongoing battle, the best way I can help my friends that are fighting the disease, and the best way I can help you and yours who are now our extended family in this Universal struggle. I figured I needed to do what I do best – write.
I can’t say I did it alone. My wife’s formal education is in psychology – BA University of Chicago and MA from NYU. She also has been a NCAA athlete and coach. Her input helped me refine these strategies.
And simply watching my dad fight, talking with him, and taking notes along the way is what truly formed these strategies. He was a man of few words, but one of significant action. It is one thing to write and talk about strategies. It is another to live out those strategies every day of your life. The latter is the best type of teacher to learn from. So in all honestly, you are learning more from my dad than from me. I’m just an ordinary man, a sidekick, delivering the teachings of a true hero.
At the same time my dad started his treatment, I was working on a different book for athletes. I had studied various warrior and martial art cultures and found that many of their philosophies, principles, and strategies could be applied to the training, competition, and overall life of modern day athletes.
Athletes could use principles like “constant and continual improvement” from the Samurai or “never retreat, never surrender” from the Spartans, combine them with sports psychology strategies, and apply it to their own training to strengthen their character, develop discipline, find their warrior spirit, sacrifice, and persevere through the rigors of competition.
Although a petty comparison, the life of a competitive athlete and the life of a cancer patient share many similarities. Athletes persevere through gut wrenching training sessions, meticulous diets, injuries, setbacks, challenges, and battles with fierce competition, all to become a champion. At the same time, cancer patients must persevere through horrible treatments, symptoms, side effects, and emotional roller coasters in order to achieve the end goal – defeating the disease and becoming cancer free. The only difference is fighting for your life is way more important than fighting for a championship.
I guess personal experiences subconsciously influence our focus. As I worked through each warrior principle, I found myself thinking more and more about how patients could use it in their battle with cancer, and less and less about athletes. Certainly, the cancer patient could be viewed as a modern day warrior. Their battle is not with a human enemy or even a supernatural beast, but with a disease. They fight not for their land or country, or titles or accolades, but for their life. What greater battle could there be? What greater warrior could there be? What greater cause could there be?
That’s how this book was born. I guess this vagabond finally found a worthy cause to give up his wandering ways for, a cause to give up his life and fight for.
ANOTHER WEAPON FOR YOUR WAR
When you put your life on the line, you want all your weapons to be of use. Your real intent should not be to die with weapons uselessly worn at your waist…The Way of this style is the mind that obtains the victory with anything at all. – Miyamoto Musashi
You are going to have a lot of resources at your side during your fight – your doctors, your nurses, your family, your friends, your support groups, etc. I can only hope this book becomes one more that somehow helps you throughout your journey.
I hope you can use it for motivation and mental strength. I hope it helps you persevere through the tough times. I hope it reminds you of your end goal and what you are sacrificing and suffering for. I hope it keeps your spirit strong, where a weaker mortal’s would surely crumble and break. I wish you the best in battle, my friend. I hope the strategies I’ve compiled become valuable weapons in your overall arsenal.
I know that somehow, you will find a way to win your war.
A FEW QUOTES TO GET YOU STARTED
No matter what it is, there is nothing that cannot be done. If one manifests the determination, he can move heaven and earth as he pleases. — Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai.
Do not think of possible outcomes until you have finished with your battle. To do so is foolish and takes your mind off the primary objective, which is to destroy the enemy. ~Miyamoto Musashi
The power of faith – thoughts backed by faith will overcome all obstacles…Faith makes it possible to achieve that which man’s mind can conceive and believe. It is a well known fact that one comes, finally, to believe whatever one repeats to one’s self, whether the statement be true or false…Every man is what he is because of the dominating thoughts which he permits to occupy his mind. ~Bruce Lee
This will be accomplished if only courage is fixed in one’s heart. If one’s sword is broken, he will strike with his hands. If his hands are cut off, he will press the enemy down with his shoulders. If his shoulders are cut away, he will bite through ten or fifteen enemy necks with his teeth. Courage is such a thing. — Hagakure: Book of the Samurai.
The warrior does not depend on anything but himself to beat the enemy… Only through a constant search from within, based on one’s own lifestyle, can the truth be known. It is absolutely a personal thing. Commercialism does nothing to enhance the reality of truth. ~ Miyamoto Musashi
Do not acknowledge the possibility that the enemy is stronger than you are. Do not accept the possibility that the enemy is smarter than you are in any way whatsoever…The Way of the warrior does not permit you to accept an inferior position to anything. ~ Miyamoto Musashi
Flexibility is a very important attitude. Things will not always go your way regardless of your practice and your attempts to define your own existence…You attack with a technique and it does not work. You try it again and it still does not work. Switch! You must never rely on only one particular attitude to get a job done. The enemy may be prepared for this technique in a way that you may not have anticipated, so it is indeed foolish to try to continue with it. ~Miyamoto Musashi
By thinking you must complete the job you will run out of time. By considering things like how many men the enemy has, time piles up; in the end you will give up. No matter if the enemy has thousands of men, there is fulfillment in simply standing them off and being determined to cut them all down, starting from one end. You will finish the greater part of it. – Hagakure: Book of the Samurai
The only shame in dying incorrectly is to die a stupid and meaningless death. To die as a warrior means to have crossed swords and either won or lost without any consideration for winning or losing. ~Miyamoto Musashi
If a retainer will just think about what he is to do for the day at hand, he will be able to do anything. If it is a single day’s work, one should be able to put up with it. Tomorrow, too, is but a single day. — Hagakure.
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