Life Lessons: What I Learnt From Life Battling My Stage 3 Cancer


By Dougie Beck 

You may well have heard many apocryphal stories of people who have cancer not surviving because they had a negative attitude and those who did had a positive mindset.

I don’t know if there is any medical evidence to support this idea.

But what I can say from my own experience of past 16 months of cancer treatment is that there is a huge difference on how you and those around you will cope with the journey will be largely based upon your mindset.

From my own experience of this gruelling past and being close to many others dealing with the same challenges (often in the adjacent hospital bed), I’ve seen up close both attitudes at work.

As a patient, it is undoubtedly a tough and scary situation to go through.

But, it became clear to me, that it’s also a a significant challenge for those who love you and care for you.

Sometimes even more so for them as they are helpless to do anything to cure you.

At least the patient gets the treatment and can feel like they are the centre of attention and making progress. But it’s not the same for the support crew.

Perhaps for them it’s a bit like being a fan of a sports team.

They can shout and scream all they like from the grandstand or touch line but at the end of the day they are not able to control the final outcome. They feel helpless and anxious.

No, I’m not suggesting that as a cancer victim you approach your own treatment and health, just for the benefit of others. That would be crazy.

You are there to win the game for yourself.

You have to make your recovery top priority and give yourself the maximum chances of success. But recovery is a team game.

There are the medical staff (angels in my experience) who have a tough job to do, and your attitude does impact them, especially if you are unreasonably ‘hard work’!.

And of course there are family, friends and and even people at work who will all be impacted by your treatment process.

If you are negative, and you have plenty of reasons to be worried, pissed off and even angry, all that happens is that you bring everyone down and eventually turn off everyone supporting you.

There is only so much tolerance and sympathy that humans can offer, especially those who love you.

So its clearly in your own best interests to be as positive as you can. This will ultimately create a more supportive and motivating environment around you during a time when you will need all the love and encouragement you can get.

Yes, it can be rough. Let me not pretend otherwise.

And of course, staying positive is much easier said than done. Especially when the pain is high and the inevitable uncertainty about the final outcome creeps in to you thoughts. Dark thinking and and fears are going to occur.

There good news on that front however.

There are loads of techniques and methods available to control and direct your thoughts to minimise the negative vibes and turn to a more positive outlook.

For some people they have God, others turn to more psychological techniques, and then there are those with a much more powerful reason to live – a life purpose or someone they love and want to be with.

In my case, I applied a smattering of all of these approaches I had learnt across my life, when confronted with severe challenges.

But my number one go to tool, when faced with a challenge is to be happy inspite of the problem. Even when it was severe stage 3 cancer that required fast track treatment this was my spring-board to success.

My approach was this. I could not un-have cancer so had to accept, it was real.

It was something I could not change.

I also decided that I would stay happy and positive inspite of this major crisis by doing everything I could, to be successful.

I focused on what I could control and influence and regularly reflected on the blessings I have in my life.

This included doing what I was told by the medical experts, taking my medicine as required, trying to not be a complete arsehole to my partner and friends and not trying to be a hero to myself.

I had to just let the process take its course and not fight it or try to push it too fast.

Patience, which is not my normal state, was a key part of my success.

I was far from perfect in my endeavours, but most of the time, I was optimistic.

I did not become an undue annoyance to those around me.

And, most importantly, I felt good in myself about taking that approach.

So to summarise my takeaway from this episode in my life (take it as advice if you will).

It is so much worthwhile making the effort to be positive. I would argue it is essential.

In my case it made the journey easier and more pleasant and manageable for all concerned.

And ultimately when that happened it just made life better for me!

I can honestly say I am happy inspite of the cancer.

(Interested in getting coached on how to improve sales in your business? Email-Dougie Beck:

About Author: 

Dougie Beck

Director at InnovateToProfit & Spacetime NZ – Dougie Beck as operated as a consultant working with clients on sales performance improvement, leveraging CRM and CX technologies. He has worked with some of the world’s most successful companies including KPMG, Price Waterhouse, NZ Soltius NZ, Azimuth NZ, Oracle NZ, and Digital Equipment (UK).