How Cancer has Changed My Life

Nikki-and-meI was told by my urologist that there is a 98% chance that I have cancer. Even writing that sentence makes me feel sick to my stomach. The shock shakes me from my inside out.

I don’t know whether to go and cry or to be strong. I want to do both and I have tried both.

The hardest part of it all is not knowing how to handle my life. I feel like I’m in limbo.

My Quick Cancer Story

I found a lump on my right testicle last year and went to the general practitioner to get it checked out. She said it was just a cyst. Being the trusting guy that I am, I believed her. I really wanted to believe her because no one wants to believe it could be something worse.

The days passed, the blog continued, and life went on.

A month ago I felt some minor discomfort every few days after sitting too long in my chair. I was hoping it was just my crappy chair which I really needed to replace, but I knew that I couldn’t push off getting my testicles checked out.

I went straight to a specialist. My general practitioner asked me to come back in, but I declined the invite and went straight to the urologist.

His staff told me to get on ultrasound on my balls, so I did. I got them scanned and went to the doctor the next day. Yes, it was fun to include my balls in this post.

He told me that there was a 98% chance that my lump was cancer.

I was stunned. I couldn’t ask any questions. I sat there while he explained my condition.

The C word hung around the room like a mosquito trying to draw blood from me.

My doctor’s words finally sunk in. I had to tell my wife that I most likely had cancer. How does a husband tell someone that he loves that he could be dying?

Well, I did it as straight forward as possible. She asked me if I was joking. She didn’t want to believe it either. I was already schedules to have my ball extracted the following day.

Right Now

As the days passed after my surgery and I watched movies, reruns of my favorite TV shows, YouTube, and whatever else could get my mind off of my problems, I saw what I was really doing.

I was running away from the fear. The fear of putting all this hard work into things I loved only to have it snatched away by cancer. All the great memories with my wife and son felt like they were going to be for nothing.

I know this isn’t true. I know that creating a wonderful relationship with my wife and kid was worth every moment. I also know that every moment I have put into this blog has helped me become happier, smarter, and wiser.

I don’t regret many things.

I do regret not enjoying more of each moment.

Our time is fragile. It can be pulled away from us at any second. That’s why we have to appreciate where we are and what we are able to do. We even need to find the beauty in stuffing marketing bags, answering phones, or doing something that we know we aren’t put on earth to do.

We don’t have a lot of time on this earth to use our superpowers. I realize this now.

This eye opening experience can’t be brushed aside. I can’t go back to being the old me, trying so hard all the time to grow my business.

I’ve set some new rules:

1. Sundays are for family.

2. I will meditate every single day.

3. I promise to take more time to transition between tasks and appreciate the present moment.

When switching tasks, I still don’t take the time to appreciate what I’m able to do. I know that I can find a few extra seconds to appreciate my present situation in that moment between emails.

It will be hard to measure my success on the last rule. How often am I staying in the present moment and enjoying every moment that I have on this earth?

So I’m going to keep track of my progress with my 1 Sentence Journal. I’m also going to use this to make sure that I’m appreciating my efforts to make a difference in people’s lives.

I’ve preached the importance of following these new rules, but I haven’t lived them enough. Now I have every reason to.

Follow Up

I have stage 1b cancer, so it’s still very early, but it means that I will probably need radiation treatment to make sure it doesn’t come back. There are side effects to the procedure, but they are minimal to make sure that I stay cancer free for a long time.

I’m still angry that my general doctor didn’t recommend that I go to a specialist, but that’s for another post.

This is still sinking in for me and I know it will change the direction of my attitude, goals, and what brings me happiness. It will be an interesting time no matter what the results.

Best Nickname

Yes, I only have one ball. There will be plenty of nicknames to come, but I have to tell you the best one from a friend. “Obi One Cojone”. It helped me laugh.

That’s a huge part of my healing. Laughing at what God/Universe has put before me. If I couldn’t laugh then I don’t deserve to teach people how to be happier in their careers.

Hey, I’m not afraid of only have one ball. My one ball is equivalent to two balls in most men. 🙂

I’m much more afraid of the cancer coming back.

Your Turn

What have you done to bring more balance to your career?

Have you had to deal with a serious illness or other life change while navigating your career?

* Nathan Hangen and I created an e-course called Fear to Fuel to help people face their arch nemesis and do creative work that they love. If you are interested in taking your passion to the next level, click here to check out the free bonuses we put together for you.

* Success is such a fickle feeling, but J.D. over at Sources of Insight has a wonderful guest post breaking down the basics of a long successful career.

If you enjoyed this post then you will probably like these too:

> My Arch Nemesis Dr. Oatzel Almost Stole My Superpowers

> 5 Ways to Conquer Your Fears

66 thoughts on “How Cancer has Changed My Life”

  1. It took me a really long time to get from fear and anger to acceptance and looking beyond. Like, years. But I got there, and I have completely revised my life since then. I’m still me, but I’m a lot happier and take more risks and find more joy every day.

    After I saw your tweet about this, I wrote about how having cancer changed everything. It’s here:

    I’m a little unsettled about being so public with it, and feel weird putting a link in a comment, but you asked. And if I can help one person think about living life more fully and joyfully by talking about it, then I will keep talking. And I really hope yours gets all gone and never comes back too!

  2. Hi Karl,

    Wow, this was the most touching and moving post I have ever read from you.

    I cannot imagine how the last few weeks have been for you, but I am happy to hear that your sense of humor is sky high! That always helps so much, and especially to heal.

    Your photo of you and your wife is beautiful and Karl, trust me when I say this, you guys will have many, many happy years together and many more babies to enjoy, should you so choose 😉

    And you know how I know this for sure… because you have chosen a different – a new – path in your life. And that is almost always, all it takes for the cancer to be non-existant.

    The one last thing I have to add, as it breaks my heart to hear you say is about your last line “I’m much more afraid of the cancer coming back”

    Working in the natural health field, Karl I cannot tell you how many people reverse and heal their cancers naturally (not even with the pharma approach), and live to see many happy years and full lives. Despite what the mainstream media has taught us, and the medical system conditioned us to believe: Cancer does not mean a death sentence.

    It is simply a sign that something is very, very out of balance within our bodies, hence us. Think of it like a compass showing you that if you continue on this path, this is where it leads. Our bodies are powerful healing machines and can reverse and heal anything, they just need the right support.

    And Karl, don’t hold any anger towards your GP – every person does only what they think and believe in their heart is the right thing. No one does anything wrong, given their model of the world, given what they know. Whether they did the right or wring thing, anger, frustration, hatred or any other negative feeling, including fear, is poison to your body – this is where most of our problems start. (and what we fear most, we most easily attract, as we give it the most focus consciously or subconsciously)

    I know people may think, it is easy for people to talk who have not had cancer, but I hear the amazing and positive stories each day of people healing, and I am also aware of how much the mainstream media, medical system and cancer organizations have made cancer a word people literally as you point out dread and at the same time an industry of cancer. I am not saying it is a walk in the park, but it just saddens me to think, that you think, you have no control over the outcome.

    Karl, you have full control of what happens from here on. This is what most of us do not yet realize. You do not need to live in fear of this, and have it always hanging over your shoulder.

    As you pointed out, being present to each moment is key, and supporting our bodies, minds and souls on EVERY level consciously is the other piece of the equation.

    My thoughts and healing energies are with you.

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  4. Hi Karl,

    Thanks for sharing this so honest. It’s things like this that really inspire people because it makes us feel that we’re not struggling alone, or that our situation is not as bad as it seems – it’s hard to beat having only 1 ball.

    All the best to you and your family and stay healthy! Cheers


  5. Karl,
    Thank you for sharing this. Tomorrow I will try to be more present. It’s so easy to let work take over everything, I love the idea of Sunday for the family.

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  7. Dear Karl,

    I had goose bumps reading your post.
    I want to send you all my best wishes and will spread the word about appreciating the present moment every day, not only on holidays.
    I had a son 8 months ago and got back to work last week.
    Having children makes you think. And I’m trying to focus on how to bring more balance to your career.
    As soon as I find out I will share it here.
    My mum has serious illness and had to give up work but she did fight not wanting to be dependant and continue to do her own things, she now drives, travel and do anything she wishes, she’s my role model.

    Best best wishes,
    A faithful reader from England.

  8. Hi Karl,

    Believe me: this is the beginning of a new and better life. Evita is absolutely right: cancer will not return if you understand the message your body is sending you. I had cancer 11 years ago and yes, it can be scary. Like you, I had a young child back then and I was scared I wouldn’t be there to hold her hand when she needed me. But my hubby, my 6-year old, my family and my friends rallied around me, like your family and friends (and readers!) are doing around you.

    Karl, you have given us hope, guidance, laughter. Guess what? Now it is our turn to give you… love. Yep, the big L word. Just relax and enjoy the friendship. You are healing, trust your body and trust your intuition.

    I changed a few things after being diagnosed-operated upon-chemoed and radiated. I stopped being a workhaholic and spent more time with my family. I started yoga. I started eating organic foods. I took drawing lessons. I became more loving and more tolerant.

    It also helped in my work: I don’t put up with activities that are a waste of time as I know that my time is my life. I became much more efficient. I found more ways to have fun at work, or to just be kind in the workplace. I smile a lot.

    These 11 years have been so incredibly wonderful! I feel like I was asleep, in a certain way, before cancer, taking everything for granted and not enjoying enough each day. Not that I am doing things perfectly now either, though.

    There are still things I wanted to do and haven’t done, like take more walks in the country side. Hey, I am going to go for a walk this week and I’ll be thinking about you!

    You are very special, hang in there, you will be ok.

    Big hugs,
    Cat, from France

  9. I’m sending positive vibes and healthy thoughts your way, Karl. What a brave and courageous post. Thank you for sharing with us. Your story is inspiring and your attitude is honest. I’ve never confronted this exact same situation myself, but when I’ve been faced with health challenges, I’ve also run away from fear only to come back and realize that the focus needs to be on love. You’re in the right mindspace at this point, it sounds like. Good luck to you and please keep us informed.

  10. Hi Karl,

    Thank you for writing such a touching, honest post and for having the courage to share with your readers what’s going on in your life.

    You’ve had a huge shock so be kind to yourself and allow for some time to go through all kinds of emotions including anger, fear, loss,and denial. The key (and as usual it’s easier said than done) is not to get stuck in them or avoid them. I’ve found that the Remembrance Practice that Mark Silver teaches over at Heart of Business helps to bring a lot of inner peace when I’m going through a rough time.

    Give yourself a pat on the back for taking charge of your health and going straight to a specialist this time around. Remember that you still get the final say about what treatments you want or don’t want and whatever else you might want to try as part of your healing. Hopefully you have a specialist who likes to work with patients as a partner in healing and encourages you to take charge of doing what you need to support your well being before, during and after treatment.

    You might be interested in reading “The Biology of Belief” by Bruce Lipton, and listening to a 2-CD set by Bruce Lipton and Steve Bhaerman (also known as Swami Beyondananda, the cosmic comic and very funny)called “Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future and how to get there from here.” Both resources strongly echo Evita’s message of encouragement to you.

    I’m glad you have been able to hold onto your sense of humour and I have to admit I did chuckle about your friend’s nickname for you. Laughter really is one of the best forms of medicine around so I do encourage you to spend some time reading, watching or listening to stuff that makes you laugh as part of your healing journey.

    Sending you lots of healing energy and warm wishes.

  11. Oh Karl, I am so sorry.

    How can I help?

    You are in amazingly good company — Lance and others. Is there a Tour de France in your future?

    Cancer seriously sucks. I don’t know if the stats have changed, but I heard it affects 1 out of 3 Americans.

    It’s always a reminder of how short life, how fragile life is, and how we have to make the most of what we’ve got.

    I’ve been trying to assemble patterns and practices for health, but there is so much conflicting advice. I’m starting to see some patterns, but it’s still tough to parse fact from fiction. That said, there are some very interesting results. Dr. Fuhrman is particularly interesting because he focuses on nutritional density and he claims amazing success stories (

    Good job setting a model and moving forward, living life on your terms.

  12. Hi Karl — thanks for sharing this with us — I appreciate the humor you brought, the honesty about the fears you’ve been going through, and the courage I imagine it took to share this. You are definitely in my prayers.

  13. Oh Karl, Thank you for sharing this with us and know you have all of my love, prayers, and support.

    Your superpowers will help you every step of the way. I just know it!

    So much love, Stacey

  14. I thought for sure this was going to be a guest post. I’m saddened to hear your news Karl, but I know that you are clearly on your way to using this for good. No we don’t have a lot of time to use our superpowers, the key will be to remember that even Cancer is a superpower to be used. Thank you for the laughs, the authenticity and most of all the encouragement in this post. Prayers for complete healing being spoken now.

  15. Hi Evita, Thank you for all your support. You are right. I have to stay positive and know that I have a lot of control over my situation.

    I know there will be a ton of lessons learned from my situation. I’m already feel closer to my friends and family. The support, love and caring has been amazing.

    I also have a better understanding of what really matters. Cancer has a funny way of putting life into perspective. I have to remember to stay this aware and appreciative of all the beauty in my life. I’m not just talking about normal stuff, but the stuff that we take for granted. A clean glass of water is such an amazing experience if we take the time to enjoy it.

    Every situation is only going to make me stronger. I know that I will help other people in my situation because it’s can be a scary time if a person doesn’t seek out the support that they need.

  16. Hi Stephanie, Children are life changing. It’s always hard to find balance with our careers. Remember to always think of what’s really important and base your decisions from this perspective.

    Thank you for kind comment. I wouldn’t be nearly as strong without this wonderful community.

  17. Hi Cat, Wow, what a wonderful role model you are. I love how you talk about the shifts that occurred in your life. I feel a shift happening inside of me. I can already feel myself letting go of worrying about silly stuff and focusing on what’s important.

    I love that you embraced this experience and came out a smarter and happier person.

    I truly believe that I will be ok. There is too much I have yet to do to make this world a better place.

    Thank you for your love. It’s warms my soul.

  18. Hi Chrissy, It takes a lot of reminders to stay positive, but I try. I can’t focus on the negative because it hurts too much. Brings down my energy, happiness and ability to heal.

    You probably face many challenging situations in your career and I believe as long as you use them as learning tools, no situation is terrible.

  19. Hi Sue, You’ve been a big part of WHN and it’s a joy to see your presence back here on a continual basis. I’m lucky to have you.

    I’m not taking anything for granted. I’m going to stay on top of this thing until the rest of my life.

    As for laughter, it’s gotten me through some tough times and it’s been vital to dealing with my cancer.

    Your healing energy is much appreciated. Thank you.

  20. Hi Chris, After creating a course on dealing and using fear to fuel my actions it was a lot easier for me than I thought it would be. As the old saying goes we teach what we must learn.

    Thank you for your prayers. Very kind of you.

  21. Hi Audra, It felt like someone else was writing it as it came out of me. So it a way it is sort of a guest post. 🙂

    Thank you for your supportive words. It means a lot.

    The most important lesson is to help other people through this. I’m in great position to do just that.

  22. Karl,
    Thinking of you, buddy…know that. And know also that, as I read your words here today, it’s reminding me more deeply of what truly matters in my life.

    And that’s the gift in all of this (although I’m sure it didn’t feel like much of a gift). These “challenging” moments can really make us look at life with new eyes. I sense that very much as I read what you have shared – and I see deep good in all of that.

    Karl, you are a gift. A gift to this world, and a gift to me in the presence of your being in my life. So, as I read today – know that my heart reaches out to you…and that I’m here if there’s anything I can do to help.

    And…I love that your finding your humor in all of this, too. What a gift laughter is…

    Hang in there, buddy! I’m sending prayers and lots of good vibes your way…

  23. Hi Karl,
    Thanks for sharing your very inspiring post. It’s great that you are now prioritizing time for your family. Also, I’m glad that you also get into meditation. When it comes to sickness, we just need to befriend our body, by submitting it to our spirit. We need self-control. This control is also my answer when it comes to a balance life.

  24. Hi Lance, You’ve been a great friend and I feel so lucky to have you in my life. I’ve learned a lot from you. Each day is a chance to laugh, love and help each other. That’s what is most important.

    Having cancer is a challenge, but one that I won’t back down from. I truly believe everything happens for a reason. I’m here to help other people. Every day, every moment is a chance for me to do that.

  25. Hi Vic, Meditation has been a part of my life that has brought me much knowledge and comfort. I hope to increase this over the coming months and years.

    You are right. We need to listen to our body learn from it. We don’t have much time on this earth. If we take our bodies for granted we won’t be able to live a happy life.

  26. So sorry to hear that you have to go through this, Karl. It sounds like you have a great attitude, though, as well as an awesome nickname! I was just thinking yesterday how easy it is to do, and how hard it is just to be. Sending you good vibes.

  27. Karl,
    I have been thinking of you all week. This post was very moving and I was amazed at your insights already. What a gift to all of us that you are sharing them. I am here if you want to laugh…just call me up and we will just laugh not to make it go away but to bring into your body the health you desire and an understanding that we are all made of light.

    You are a gem in my life.

  28. Hi Karl,

    My prayers go out to you and your family.

    I know this can’t be easy, but I like how you’ve already made changes to your schedule/priorities, posted your story and brought this important issue to the forefront. By you sharing, you’re helping others to not only listen to their bodies, but to stop and reevaluate where their priorities lay.

    ((Hugs)) to you Karl.

  29. Hi Karl,
    Thanks for sharing the story. been thinking of you a lot and wishing you and the whole family good health in the future.

    I have always believed good health and family come first above all else. Without those two things, well you don’t have much of anything. Unfortunately for so many people they don’t realize it until it’s too late. Hopefully your story will play a part in changing that.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery filled with tears, laughter, and love.

  30. Hey Karl, we’re all here cheering you on my dear Obi Wan! 🙂

    Seriously, you’ve got the best attitude despite the severity of what you’re going through. That tells me you’ll be enjoying time with your family, good laughs, and lots more for many years to come! *big hugs*

  31. Hi Barbara, I had to make some changes. I take my cancer as a wake-up call. Too often I’be been worrying about getting to point B instead of enjoying the moment. I am so lucky to be connecting with people like you. People that care and want to make the world a better place.

    Thank you so much for you kind words and I always love a good virtual hug.

  32. Hi Stacey, I hope so too. It’s why I chose to write about it. I want people, especially young men to think about going to the doctor more often. The preventative care that we can access the longer and hopefully happier lives we will live.

  33. Hi Nathalie, Attitude is 99% of happiness. I have to work at it at times, but that’s also a key. The more I try to have a positive attitude the easier it becomes.

    Thank you for your kind words. I value all the advice you given me.

    I hope to have many years hanging out with my family and friends as well as helping people optimize their superpowers.

  34. Karl,
    I *love* you and I will email you right now..this very moment..
    The photo of you and your wife absolutely shines!!!!
    Hold on to that love..and the love surrounding you from all sources..

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  36. you are certainly a strong survivor!! i am glad its in an early stage, that would make treatment effective and it will be a memory 🙂

  37. You are right about the preventative care…it is not how we think…but hopefully, with people like you and me and many many others that will change. You are AMAZING and inspiring to me

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  39. Hi Karl
    Wow it is so inspirational to read your story and how you’re dealing with it. The ‘C’ word is a word that I had to get used to hearing a lot – not me- someone very close to me, and I can say that life is never the same again- it gets better.


  40. HappinessandWisdom

    What an amazing post. Profound, yet funny! After reading so many stories about folks who learn to make time for presence, family, etc., I realize its time for me to more consistently do the same. I’m not going to wait for cancer or some other wake-up call, to teach me that lesson. Thanks for the inspiration!

  41. Amigo, I appreciate the way in which you write. I just found out about this and I’m sorry. I broke my hand Saturday morning and ;was feeling pretty lame because I depend on my hands a lot to take care of my daughter and me, to work, etc. It really helps me to know that there are people that are making it through far more difficult situations than mine. Listen: I will keep you in my prayers and I will continue to check to see how you’re doing. God is good and there’s so much that we do not understand, and it’s hard to stay positive, but we have to amigo we have to. You’re doing the right thing. You make me strong. I’m glad I have three fingers that are ok so that I can write to you. Thank you man.

  42. Hi Karl,

    Thank you very much for your sharing as I got much more inspiration & passion from your story! Wish you completely recovery ASAP and all the best to you & your family.

  43. Karl,

    I can’t tell you how much this resonated with me, especially your line, “This eye opening experience can’t be brushed aside. I can’t go back to being the old me.”

    I am several months removed from my second battle with thyroid cancer, and as frustrating as it was to deal with a reoccurrence, I truly feel that it was the universe telling me, “Hey, you missed the lesson last time. Pay attention this time, would you?”

    So, I have. I’m jumping off the hamster wheel. I’m trading ambition for what really makes me happy — not just what I thought *should* make me happy. I don’t know why it’s so hard for so many of us to admit that what we really want to be doing is enjoying a nice dinner at home — at a reasonable hour — or just cuddling on the couch. Or why those things should even have to be admissions!

    I started a whole blog to chronicle how cancer has changed my life, but check out this post if you want to read one particular entry along the lines of yours:

    Stay strong. We are all wishing the best for you and your beautiful family!

  44. Hi Caroline, Life is always throwing us obstacles. It’s up to us in how we use them. That means staying positive and focusing on the things that we can change.

    I love your attitude. You are so blessed in many ways. Keep on living strong.

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  46. Dearest Karl, I read this sometime ago, as well as your comment on my blog. I was SO moved that you shared that on my blog. You are one of the most beautiful souls I’ve met. You soul just shines. You are filled with life and radiant vitality. I just want you to know that you have been very much in my thoughts. I will continue to think of you and send healing energy.

    I have had many very serious wake up calls in my life. And although I don’t have cancer now, I’ve other stress related health issues and have just made the decsion to take back my life. “MY” life.

    You are wonderfully sincere and earnest person and I so value that about you. I also was going to say, that yes, Evita (one of my most treasured friends is a wonderful source of “getting healthy”. She and I have talked on Skype and just being in her presence is healing in itself.

    Dear Karl, throw out all the rules, shoulds, and supposed to be(s), and listen only to your beautiful heart. I too am listening to my own words. Learning to more and more each day. It used to be easy to do in when I lived so wild, but am having to relearn that here in society. My culture will chew you up, spit you our, burp, and never look back….if we let it. I am choosing not to. I don’t yet know what my new path will look like, but at least I am saying “No more” to all the things that feel like “shoulds”, all the the things that weigh me down. You might like my new post. You do NOT need comment, but you might enjoy reading it at some point. Here is the link:

    I am sending you much love for yourself and those around you that you hold dear. And again, you will remain daily in my thoughts surrounded by healing, understanding, and compassion.


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