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by Dan Brown   |   September 14, 2017

Learning to Persevere

Most of us have days where we just don’t feel like doing the things we know we’re supposed to do. I had days like that before I was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer, and sometimes even after. I know that doing resistance training at least three times per week will help offset the long-term side effects of the hormone therapy I’m on. Yet so far, I haven’t really gotten started with that program. I know that getting in at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per day is really good for me, yet some days I just don’t feel like doing it.

I don’t ever want to use my situation, and my disease, as an excuse for not doing something important. It is very easy to do and can quickly lead to a “poor me” mentality. That is not the best mentality for an endurance athlete, and it is certainly not a good mentality for someone who’s going through aggressive cancer treatment.

Since my diagnosis, I’ve become fascinated by people who have overcome great health-related challenges in their lives in order to achieve the uncommon. What motivates someone to start training for an IRONMAN after enduring disfiguring third degree burns over 65% of her body, including the loss of several fingers? Turia Pitt could tell you, because she did it.

How does someone find the will to begin running and cycling again after being impaled by a city bus while riding his bike to work, nearly being torn in half, and undergoing over thirty surgeries? Former NYC firefighter Matt Long did exactly that. U.S. Marine Kirstie Ennis survived a helicopter crash, traumatic brain and spinal injuries, and two amputations to complete a 1,000-mile walk for charity and later climb Mount Kilimanjaro

Reading or listening to each of these people’s stories (and others like them – I know ZERO works with a few of these amazing athletes), there is a common set of traits that emerge: Resilience, perseverance, mental toughness, determination, strength of will. The good news I’ve discovered is that these qualities are not binary. In other words, one doesn’t either possess them totally or not at all, but rather for most of us they are present in varying degrees.

For those (like me) who weren’t blessed with the spirit of an Olympic gold medalist, these characteristics can be can be cultivated and sharpened over time. Quite often adversity will bring out these traits – adversity like my unexpected Stage IV prostate cancer diagnosis. Whether we’re faced with adversity we didn’t choose – like cancer – or it is a challenge of our own undertaking, we often find that we are a lot more resilient, more determined, and that we have a much greater ability to persevere than we ever imagined about ourselves.

I know I do. I’m going to keep training, keep cycling, and get started on my resistance training. Because I persevere, no matter what. Do you want to talk about your prostate cancer journey? Feel free to shoot me an email.