Coping with Cancer
Ever since my cancer diagnosis, life has not been the same. Gone are the days of spontaneous erections and carefree living. I mourn the loss of my former self, who was strong, healthy and without worry. Even though I’m grateful to be alive and breathing, it’s painful to accept that I will never fully recover physically or mentally. Cancer has aged me prematurely and has caused permanent damage to my body, including invading my mental health. Not only am I weaker physically, but I’ve developed a fear of recurrence. My anxiety goes through the roof whenever I have a new ache or pain, or it’s time for a follow-up scan or bloodwork.
Therefore, finding ways to cope both physically and mentally is essential. And as everyone is different, not all coping strategies will work for everybody. If you haven’t already, please read my articles Prostate Cancer and the Importance of Exercise and Prostate Cancer and My Coping Mechanisms to learn what works for me.
The Power of Memories
Since writing those articles, I’ve discovered something new that helps me cope. One day, while cleaning the garage, I found a box filled with dozens of VHS tapes and 8 mm film, including thousands of photos and slides. With some dating back almost 50 years! On discovering the box, tons of old memories flooded my mind, and it felt like I was in a time machine. While not all memories are fond, remembering the past can help ease anxiety and provide great comfort. And more importantly, these memories help remind me of my roots and keep me grounded.
It will take several months, if not years, to fully appreciate the volume of photographs and videos, but I’d like to share one memory that stands out, complete with a performance that you must watch! And that is a choreographed martial art fight scene when Ninjas attacked my brother, David, and me at TOEI Kyoto Studio Park in Japan. The link to this video is at the end of this article.
Martial Art Background
To set up the background, it all started in 1973 when our parents took David and me to a drive-in movie named Enter the Dragon starring Bruce Lee. His firm, rugged looks, confidence, authoritative voice, vast knowledge of martial arts and impressive skills were an inspiration growing up as a kid. Never before had we seen anything like him, and we were immediately spellbound and fixated on his every move. Over the next several months, David and I watched the movie countless times. We knew every scene, every movement and every word. Together, we would rehearse the fight scenes and even imitate the voices of the actors, speaking every word, line by line.
A few years later, a martial arts school opened up in our neighbourhood, and David and I were one of the first to enroll. The training was a dream come true where we not only honed our skills but we learned discipline, structure and respect for one another. All of these helped us in other areas of our lives, including getting better grades in school and becoming better kids for our parents.
After several years of training, David and I earned black belts. It was one of the most incredible and rewarding experiences of our lives. I was completely drained of all physical and mental energy and could barely stand during the black belt presentation. While it took me weeks to recover from the physically demanding and mentally exhausting grading that lasted for 20 hours straight, David, being younger and in better shape, was ready for more.
Our instructor taught us that martial arts were not about fighting but rather about learning to live in peace and harmony — a way of life. And earning a black belt symbolized that the body was physically ready to train, and the mind was empty, open and willing to accept new knowledge. Meaning you are now prepared to begin the real training.
Never had we firmly grasped this lesson until we visited Japan and learned that coloured belts were never part of any ancient martial arts tradition. One such tale is that the novice martial artist traditionally started with a white belt to basically keep his robe closed. As the artist trained and practiced over the years, the belt became soiled, ultimately turning black as they perfected their skills. Little did I know then that the values and lessons we learned from training would provide great comfort and encouragement later in life.
The fight scene
I feel blessed to have captured a memory on film that is almost 30 years old! I found great pleasure in reliving the choreographed martial art fight scene, and I hope you enjoy watching as much as we did filming.
To learn more about my brother, David, please read My brother the Ninja and my healing journey.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my prostate cancer diagnosis and lessons learned. You can read all my family posts under Gogs’ Family.
If you’ve read my prostate cancer memoir, please consider writing a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and other online sites. Your review is deeply appreciated, helps with visibility, and lets others know if this book is right for them. If you already wrote a review, I’m sincerely grateful for your time.