Brett lives with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia and will likely continue treatment for the rest of his life. Before his diagnosis, Brett lived to take risks; extreme sports, riding motorcycles and other actions that brought him face to face with what he feared most: death. It wasn’t until his diagnosis that he felt he could actually look his fear in the eyes.
“Knowing that my ticket is punched, as it were, could have shattered my mental state,” explains Brett. “I white-knuckled the first year or so, accepting no help and avoiding antidepressants before finally entering therapy. Therapy is essential as a way of coping with the trauma and it's even more important once you've 'cleared' the danger. Building mental resilience should begin as soon as you're able and continue beyond the point where life knocks you off balance again.”
After dealing with his diagnosis alone for some time, Brett realized the importance of accepting help when it’s offered. Now, the advice he offers newly diagnosed patients is to lean on people that offer help, but don’t make them your sole support. Therapy, lecture series such as Alan Watts’ Out of Your Mind, and meditation have all helped Brett improve his mental resilience.
Today, Brett continues to work and find comfort in educating himself about his condition. Although lockdown has been isolating and challenging, his continued focus on dealing with coping in the face of catastrophe has made him realize he can confront death as an inevitable and natural event instead of something to live in constant fear of.
Brett describes his cancer experience as:
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