How Will You Step Up on Cancer Survivors Day?

sean swarnerNational Cancer Survivors Day is June 2 — and there’s no better way to celebrate than by answering this question, “What do you want to do with your life now that you’ve beaten cancer?”

It’s a question that many cancer survivors grapple with long after their cancer has gone into remission.

Why is it so tough to answer?

Up until now, you’ve had to take life day by day. Your life with cancer has been centered around the next doctor’s check-up or chemotherapy treatment. And the possibilities for each day revolved around your energy level (or lack thereof) — and whether or not you felt like vomiting after chemotherapy. It’s hard to think about fulfilling your potential when you’re hugging a toilet.

I remember those days all too well, especially since I went through treatment twice, after surviving two different terminal cancers (Hodgkin lymphoma and Askin’s sarcoma).

cancer treatment

Life After Cancer

Your battle with cancer will always be part of your story, but it does not define you. Now, you have the opportunity to decide what will. You — not your health condition — get to decide what happens next. That can be exhilarating and intimidating at the same time.

That’s why I’m here — to help you decide what you want to write on the blank pages of your post-cancer life.

I have stood exactly where you are today. The second time I was faced with a cancer diagnosis (Askin’s sarcoma), I was read my last rites — and given 14 days to live. Nearly 25 years later, the cancer is in remission and I continue to make the same choice today that I did then — I want to live.

I’ve gone on to ascend Everest, climb the highest mountain on every continent, ski to the North and South Poles, and complete the Hawaii Ironman — all with only one good lung (my other lung was damaged due to radiation from the cancer treatment).

sean swarner at south pole

People are often fascinated by what I did, but few ask how I did it. It started by deciding what I wanted to do with this second (or third) chance at life.

I wanted to step up and start living a life filled with meaning — and I can help you do the same.


It’s Time to Step Up

I’ve been putting together a new program that I’m really excited about called “Step-Up.” It’s a seven-step program designed to help you get out of your own way, in order to reach your full potential.

In the program, you’ll discover what motivates you, identify the obstacles standing in your way, and outline an action plan to overcome them to achieve your goals. Best of all, you can take the program at your own pace.

The Step-Up Program acts as a compass, helping you navigate in the direction of the life you want to lead.


What Prevents You From Living Your Best Life Now?

In a word: you. But there’s much more to unpack in that simple answer. During my training to become a certified professional coach, I learned that our obstacles come from our own personal Gremlins, Associations, Interpretations and Limiting beliefs (GAILs).

The first step toward getting past these limitations is self-awareness. You speak to yourself more than anyone else. Start to become aware of the words you use about and toward yourself.

For example, “should” is often a word we use in negative self-talk — “I should be farther in my schooling, career, relationships, etc. than I am right now.” Those thoughts stem from expectations that we or others have set for our lives and where we “should” be, based on cultural norms.

Instead, try to replace “should” with “I can.” This shifts the focus from the past — what you “should” have done — to the future and the actions that are within your control.

If you postponed college due to cancer treatments, for instance, you can shift the internal dialogue from “I should have finished college by now” to “I can go back to college this year to earn my degree.”


Propelling Yourself Toward Your Goals

There are two main types of motivators: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is when we do something because we find it inherently rewarding. For example, you go for a run outside because you enjoy it. You run simply because it makes you feel good.

Now, let’s say you don’t like running, but your office is doing a “Biggest Loser” competition, modeled after the TV show. Everyone at your office puts money in to participate and the person who loses the greatest percentage of their body weight wins the money. Now, you’re running because of an extrinsic motivator — cash.

The Step-Up Program primarily focuses on helping you find your intrinsic motivators. What values act as a guiding light in your life? For example, if you’re inherently motivated to run, you might value your health. So you make choices that align with that value, such as exercising and eating healthfully.


Get With the Program

The Step-Up Program uses a Core Values Assessment to help you identify and understand your intrinsic motivators, which will help propel you toward your goals.

Based on those findings, you’ll create a vision map, which outlines the things you want to do with your life and how you’ll get there.

Then, the program will help you learn to make conscious decisions, based on your core values and what you want to achieve. Those conscious decisions will become your thoughts, your thoughts will become your actions, and your actions will become your habits.

Your life is a culmination of the habits you’ve established over time. So, if you want to change your life, change your habits.

So, I’ll ask you again: What do you want to do with your post-cancer life?

Step into that reality today — sign up for updates about the launch of the Step-Up Program.

Happy Cancer Survivors Day! Now let’s live the 364 days after it to the fullest.