Learning to Recreate Myself Post Cancer

Adam Kellerman
6 min readApr 22, 2020
Photo by Jasper Boer on Unsplash

I have so much to give but for so long I believed that I didn’t or that I didn’t know how to give. What a big fat lie! Giving is in our nature, as much as receiving. Just as we breathe in oxygen and release carbon dioxide.

Where did this belief of not being able to give come from?

I think it was a natural thing that came about rather than something that happened to me directly. From being looked after so intensively for a number of years when I was sick, probably before I was sick as well, my parents did a lot for me and my brothers. We were and are incredibly lucky to have such amazing parents. Through that time of being sick though, I couldn’t really give anything to anyone, I was completely self-absorbed, focusing on my survival and getting through one day, sometimes one minute at a time.

After finishing treatment, I stayed self-absorbed as I stumbled around like a drunken sailor trying to figure out my place in the world. I felt lost, depressed and I was in chronic pain, and I wasn’t taking any painkillers either. I started working with Ganja and that really helped me with pain relief for quite a number of years but it wasn’t an everyday thing, most of the time.

No one really prepares you for how life is going to change before you start treatment. During treatment, you’re in a bit of a vortex within the hospital system, at every stage there’s a process or a protocol that needs to happen, as well as contingency plans. After finishing treatment, there’s not much in the way of ongoing support to process what just happened and how to integrate that into a renewed version of yourself.

For a long time I clung onto the hope that somehow, things would go back to normal like they were before getting diagnosed. Maybe one day I’ll run again, play soccer and ice hockey, and feel “normal”. Obviously that never happened and I’d be pretty surprised to hear if anyone has gone through an ordeal like cancer treatment and came out the other side as exactly the same person who went into it. Really, there’s no going back.

The only way forward is through and part of that journey is processing the emotional, physical and psychological trauma that you have just emerged from. There’s no one way to process, there is an infinite number of ways and I won’t ever tell you there’s only one way. It is important though to take a multi-dimensional approach in terms of understanding the impact and getting to a place of resting deeply, peacefully within yourself. For me, it took 6 years after finishing treatment to even start processing because I didn’t have the tools or awareness. It was only when I met my first mentor who was a masseuse who had awareness of the deeper layers such as processing cellular trauma.

Yes, our cells hold memory and when you go through a trauma, many of your cells are impacted and will stay that way unless you learn how to release it. There are many different ways to do that. The way my mentor helped me was by teaching me to process my emotions, she taught me that it’s not wrong to feel whatever I’m feeling, she gave me permission to embrace the wounded inner child and gave me the tools to unravel my inner world which had been repressed and stuffed down deep to avoid feeling bad so that I would always feel good. Although I didn’t feel good. I felt that there was something deeply wrong with me because, at the time that I met her, I was numb. I couldn’t feel happiness or sadness, or anything in between.

I had moments, glimpses of feeling when there was something extreme, like winning a match on the tennis court or someone dying. Those are the only times I really felt and even then, compared to the way I feel now, that was like a whisper of wind to the gale of emotion that flows through me now, strong enough to blow down trees. It’s not always positive at all but I feel alive and the more alive I feel, the more magic I can feel in the world around me.

It’s not an easy process by any means, in fact, not to scare you, but sometimes it’s a downright harrowing journey because it means going to the depths of your sorrow and pain. We are only given the gift of joy if we are willing to feel the sadness. They are 2 sides of the same coin and when we push away the sadness, we push away the whole coin, giving up the joy as well. That’s why having a mentor or psychologist or someone who knows what they’re doing to guide you in the journey is so important. To try and do it alone, I imagine would not only take much longer but you’d end up going in circles a lot of that time because our emotional world is like a complex maze and sometimes it’s necessary to be heard and get it reflected back to you. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s impossible to go at it alone, personally, I never would have made it to where I am today without mentors to help me.

I still have mentors to this day. It speeds up the process as well as it gives you the added benefit of reminding you that you aren’t going insane, even after spending a week eating nothing but ice cream and pizza, binge-watching Netflix and using your choice of recreational drug to avoid feeling something that has been hidden so deeply that you feel you might actually have to die to be able to go and find it.

The coping mechanisms that we have learned are strong, our egos will avoid going there at all costs, whether it’s a distraction, procrastination, or complete avoidance. The ego is protecting itself and it’s telling you that it’s protecting you, but you and I know that you’re so much more than just your ego. I had super strong coping mechanisms, some were conscious, but most were unconscious for most of my life. I projected it all onto the people around me. I always wondered why I had trouble making friends as a teenager and for most of my 20’s. It was because unconsciously I was blaming them for everything in my life that wasn’t the way I wanted it.

The process of learning to take responsibility for all aspects of my life has only really dropped in quite recently. Conceptually, I have known about it for over a decade. The process of taking responsibility for absolutely everything, for seeing myself as the creator of my direct reality and the cocreator of reality as a whole, took time for me to see, more time for me accept and then learn to evolve or devolve. I tell you what though, it’s been one hell of a journey and knowing that death doesn’t end the journey has helped me to see that I don’t need to try so hard or force anything. I’m in a state of complete allowance which is an incredible place to be, and it’s not, not doing anything. It’s a combination of surrendering and commanding based on what’s showing up in my field. I’m still learning the ropes of commanding, but it feels like it’s consciously choosing the direction and actions that I’m taking. Then it’s about surrendering to how that shows up.

That’s all I got for now.



Adam Kellerman

Mindset and Movement. Writing about life as an Australian Paralympian, cancer survivor and Qigong student/teacher.