What Courage Really Looks Like
On this solo episode of the Man Up to Cancer Podcast, I read from Chapter 5 of my book, "Open Heart, Warrior Spirit: A Man's Guide to Living with Cancer."
This chapter is all about how some very special people in my life helped me redefine the definition of courage in my fight against cancer.
Here is an excerpt:
Cancer tried to drown me.
It was a cold river that rose up far above the banks, plucked me from my pleasant dreams, took me down into the raging current, and smashed me again and again into the rocks.
I choked and flailed and blacked out. I cried out for mercy, for the sake of my wife and kids. I pleaded with the universe, Mother Nature, or whatever gods might listen.
In the early portion of 2019, after my Shawshank moment with Sarah, while I was reaching out for help, I still felt like that frantic swimmer swept up in the ice-cold water whose only instinct was to fight like hell against the current.
I thought if I swam hard enough and long enough, I could get back upstream, back to safety—to that place before cancer.
That’s when another helper came into my life, with the right guidance at the right time. Technically, Kate was my physical therapist. I began seeing her for hands-on therapy to help alleviate the pain from my surgical adhesions and the 12-inch scar from liver surgery and smaller scar from colon surgery.
In truth, Kate is a healer in the best definition of the word. She bonds instantly with people going through trauma and knows what they need. She does talk therapy while providing manual therapy, and she is insanely intuitive.
“Trevor,” she would say, “you are fighting so hard to go back upstream. I want to help you see that you can’t get back there. You are in the current, and your only option is to stop struggling and face downstream. I know it’s scary, I know you didn’t ask for this, but there is no going back to your life before.”
The truth of her words were clear, even while I kept flailing. But I continued to protest.
“I think I can turn downstream, but I’m struggling with my shame,” I told her. It was the shame that was relentless. At that time, I was convinced that all cancer patients, except for me of course, handled their diagnosis and treatments with grace and courage. You know, those 5K runners and top fundraisers. They were all crushing it. And here I was, debilitated, leing my family down.
“I’m a mess. I’m failing them,” I told her.
“You’re being way too hard on yourself. You’re not going to be able to understand this now,” she said, “but you are exactly where you need to be.
“Courage doesn’t always look like what you think it should look like,” she said.
And then she told me a story.