Cancer: Crash Course into the Journey of Becoming Who I Am

By James Harrigan, CPC

I believe our minds are more powerful than we allow. We hear it all the time, but do we really take the time to actually ponder what we attract into our daily lives, actions, relationships, and overall wellness?

We’re exposed to others’ perspectives on the power of mind daily—general statements by those we know, media, television, the Internet. Oh, and here I am writing about it again.

At age 19, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

At this stage in my life, like many others at this age, I was just beginning the journey to discover who I was as a person and as a man. I was a gay man who, again like many others, was struggling to accept it wholeheartedly and to find a way to be proud of it. I was panicked of myself and who I was.

I didn’t like myself much, and I spent a lot of those formative years overly stressed, angry, confused, and terribly sad.

This was most likely unknown to everyone around me at the time. I thought of myself as a true showman, and I was damn good at it. Little did I know that I was manifesting “the negative.”

Physical pain entered my body in the fall, right before I was heading back to start my second year of college. I disclosed this to my family, uttering it was probably an injury of some sort. Of course, in true showman fashion, I specified this lightly with a punch line for laughter—all along knowing my body was telling me something was truly wrong.

In short, I ignored myself once again, and I deteriorated physically. Returning home to address this months later, the events to come unfolded quickly. Surgery, loss of a body part, a misdiagnosis and, finally, aggressive chemotherapy—they all helped set the stage for an uncontrollable crash course into the journey of becoming who I am. I had no choice. The showman was gone. I couldn’t hide this. So many surrounded me constantly with love and support; however, this was the loneliest time of my life, and still is to this day. This was the first time I was introduced to myself, and I am profoundly grateful.

Through this journey, I became keenly aware of the negative energy that I manifested.

My interpretation of who I was authentically was skewed by exterior forces and beliefs, which ultimately affected my overall health and well-being. I made a conscious and natural choice to surrender and began to take steps of self-discovery, acceptance and, finally, healing. My True-Self began to emerge, and I have never looked back.

I am a healthy man now, almost 16 years later. Cancer was my universal “slap in the face” on so many levels. Again, I am grateful. This is my experience of it. This is how I choose to reflect on that experience. I cannot state that all cancer survivors have similar perceptions of the journey but, as odd as it may sound, it is a deeply intimate, unaccompanied experience.

I slowly began to allow acceptance. I started to form actual relationships—with my family, others, and myself. This is when I started on the journey into me.

I feel that as a society we tend to narrow the meaning of the word “relationship.” There are relationships with friends, family, and lovers, as well as relationships with colleagues, acquaintances, and so on and so forth.

They are all connected.

I am a constant seeker of who and why I am and a genuine human observer. It is when I am alone in the quiet that I am inspired. I am aware of this. I am proud of this.

I’ve had led many lives already and have formed many relationships—all of which has made me who I am today. I have a childhood life, a teen life, a cancer life, a confused young adult Manhattan life, and an unnamed life following the above that has brought me to this moment.

I’ve had relationships that created a need for healing, made me thankful, and helped me to discover lessons—big and small. I continue to learn from these regularly and reflect on them often…A relationship with my childhood, my sexuality, and with cancer…A relationship with career decisions, money, debt…A relationship with friends (past, present, future), and the brief acquaintances…A relationship with my family—all stages, ever evolving, and all encompassing.

We are privileged beings. We tend to forget what is in front of us and especially what is behind us. We tend to neglect self-reflection in order to realign and continue to move forward constantly as individual souls. We forget to have gratitude. We forget the power of the mind. We are the “Knower” of our lives and who we are. The message is to embrace our True-Selves and learn from everyone and everything that enters our lives to continue positive growth as beings.

We are here to learn lessons that present themselves to us each and every day.

Take Control

Make a positive difference in your life. Live in accordance with yourself successfully and with confidence. Prevent barriers that keep you from bringing what you want into your life—whether they are conscious or unconscious. If you take time for yourself and reflect on the things you want and set goals, you will be able to attract those things into your life effortlessly and positively.

Take time to go deeper into your own self and become a new companion to yourself, someone who is there for support whenever you feel you need it. Set goals to accomplish what you desire and learn how to live with authenticity. Commend yourself each day for taking the time to reflect, contemplate, and make changes within. Concentrate on the voice within to stay on the path of growth and progression. As a result, you are rewarded with great insight into yourself, your relationships, and the things around you.

If you don’t make time and space to mature and grow as an introspective human being, then you’ll remain in the same actions and patterns that initially triggered you to seek improvement.

Our life experiences and observations lead us to our belief system. We take action based on our beliefs. We do this over and over again each day, usually unconsciously. This is because we have established a comfortable and safe pattern of behavior. Everything fits neatly into a box—whether it is career choices, relationships, financial decisions, spiritual practices, well-being behaviors, or overall health status.

We have the ability to seemingly influence the world around us. Like attracts like; focus on the positive and you’ll attract the positive. Focus on the negative and you’ll attract the negative.

Take Action, Inspire Yourself…


This article is a chapter from the book Transform Your Life! written by 60 real-life heroes and experts and available at,, and all ebook formats.

James Harrigan, CPC is a speaker, writer, cancer survivor, and Certified Professional Coach assisting clients in self-awareness, spirituality, relationships, career, trauma recovery, and general goals for healthier daily living. James has always helped others- whether it be friends, family or colleagues. Sharing and listening is an important module of how James coaches and lives. He acts as a support companion to clients as they work through the roadblocks in life to set goals to achieve the positive life ahead. “The smallest shifts in our perceptions warrant positive energy for change and happiness.” Visit


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