How to handle fear.
When you face a cancer diagnose you will experience fear in one or the other way. Fear of what comes. Fear of an operation. Fear of dying. During my last 2 years I learned 3 tactics how to handle this fear which I would like to share at this point.
The first step is that I had to learn to accept my fear. This fear is normal and very human. And there is no reason why I should be confused about it. It is important to understand that it is OK to have these feelings without judging them.
2. Live in the moment
The second tactic is not new at all, but very efficient. Fear has a lot to do with thinking about the future and how bad this future can turn out. It is not connected to the here and now and therefor should not have the power to make me feel bad. Fearing the future is just an inability to live the present.
I am not religious, but I have a strong believe. A believe that helped me to overcome the hard chemotherapy and made me run a triathlon. But I also realised that this believe got challenged in the last months. Until now I always believed that I am in full control and that I can do something. I had to learn that this only partly true.
Fortunately in this moment of doubt I found an inspiring anecdote that inspired me to write this post.
Some weeks ago I watched the historic ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ fight between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali from 1974. Ali was the big underdog for this fight nobody expecting him to win. There were even journalist claiming that Ali will not survive this event.
Everybody was expecting that Ali will dance in the ring like always making it hard for Foreman to catch him. But the contrary was the case. Despite Ali could land some punches, Foreman was pushing Ali back into the robes not giving him any chances to escape his hard hits.
The bell rang after the first round and there is no better description of what then happened than the one by Norman Mailer from the movie “When we were kings”.
‘ Ali went back to the corner. The nightmare he was waiting for in the ring had finally came to visit him. He was in the ring with a man he could not dominate, he was stronger than him. Who was not afraid of him. Who is gonna try to knock him out. And who punched harder than Ali could punch. And this man was determined and unstoppable. Ali had a look on his face, that I ll’never forget. He had fear in his eyes. Ali looked as he looked into himself saying: Aah this is the moment. This is what you have been waiting for. This is that hour. And you have the guts and he kind of acknowledged to himself: You gonna get it together boy! You really got to get it together. I gonna get it together. You will get it together. He nodded some more. And then he turned to the crowd and he went: Ali Bomaye (Ali, kill him)!’
Because Ali was a black-power activist he had the whole crowd behind him screaming: Ali Bomaye! (The fight was hold in Zaire because of tax reasons). You will find the described scene at minute 24, but I recommend to watch at least the first round to catch the full context of the situation.
Listening to Mailers description it felt like he was talking about me. Two years ago I went into this fight with an incredible self-confidence. I was so convinced that I gonna knock out my illness in one round. And now the first round is over and I am laying crashed on the sofa, realising that this is hitting much harder than I thought, fearing those hits. I look into myself, focusing on my body, on my soul, on me, saying: You better gonna get this together boy! You really got to get it together! You have to got this together! And as Ali turned to the crowed, I turned to you, not raising my hand, but publishing a post. The overwhelming feedback you gave me in these weeks had the same encouraging effect as a screaming stadium, that is for sure.
And for this encouraging support I wanted to thank you! It gives me the strength to stand up again and start dancing as Ali did after the first break (Little detail: Ali knocked Foreman out after 8 rounds ).
Thank you all and with love,
PS: For those of you who where wondering: The recovery from the operation goes on very well and I will not have to go through any additional chemo- or radiotherapy. Which means that I soon can pick up my training again, which I am looking very much forward to it!