I have never been a good skier, always content to take my time and get down to the bottom safely. I remember one time I allowed myself to be coaxed to a slope that was way beyond my skill level. After falling as I came off the lift, I found myself at the top of the longest and most difficult ski slope I had ever faced. Despite the fact that all the signs I saw said “experts only” my ski companions kept saying that my overcautious approach and slower pace would allow me to handle this ski hill just fine.
I wasn’t convinced they were right, but I knew that I had to get down off that slope and nobody but me could do it. I had to get to the bottom of the hill, so with great trepidation and fear I decided to suck it up and ski.
Getting treated for advanced prostate, renal and thyroid cancers is really no different then getting off that mountain. Just like having to get down the slope, I had to get through treatment and continue to live my life. However, nowhere is it said that you need to be fearless through either the ordeals, skiing down a slope you shouldn’t be on or dealing with cancer.
The surprise that does greet most of us is that we can and do muster the courage to get down the mountain and get through our treatment. My skiing belief and technique is that I can get down any slope if I ski mostly diagonally, crisscrossing the hill one length at a time, stopping to appreciate the little but constant progress I make. Dealing with cancer treatment is no different. I only need to get through one procedure, one treatment and one day at a time.
Well, I did get down to the bottom of the mountain and I have managed to get through all of my treatments to date. When I looked back up the hill I smiled and felt very proud of myself, just like I feel as I think back post cancer treatment.
I do know that there will be additional ski slopes to get down as there will also be additional mountains created by my cancers to conquer. I will accept my fear, take my time and ski under control until I make it to the bottom of another mountain.
Joel T Nowak MA, MSW
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