In Reading Adam Bernard’s ChemBro – Embracing Beastmode to Beat Cancer, I Found Three Powerful Themes.
As I shared last month with my review of Jay Elwell’s Rotten Fruit: My Testicular Cancer Journey, I have come to enjoy reading the memoirs of other testicular cancer survivors. October’s Band of Ballers feature, Adam Bernard, recently published a book about his journey, entitled ChemBro – Embracing Beastmode to Beat Cancer.
In chatting with him, my first question was, “Can I read a copy of your book?!” and followed closely by “What exactly is ‘beastmode’?” He said yes to the first question and the opening pages answered my second:
“Beastmode means giving your all, whether it’s in the gym, or in any other aspect of life. Beastmode is choosing not to give up when giving up is the easiest option. Beastmode is one more rep, one more mile, or when we’re at our weakest, one more step. In short, beastmode is the push to accomplish more than you imagined you could.”
As usual, I saw many similarities in our stories.
Much like with other testicular cancer survivors (myself included), Adam noted that “while a sane person would have called a doctor right away, or at least the next morning, my ass decided to wait it out” upon finding a lump on his left testicle. I thought it was especially cool that we both had lumps in lefties – we’re Twinsies who don’t have our own ‘twinsies’ anymore.
He shared how he made it “through the ultrasound without… showing emotion,” which reminded me of my own fears in getting that warming jelly all up in my business. As he received an ominous call from his doctor, he mused that he felt a “metaphorical lump in my throat – in addition to the very real one in my left testicle.” Say what you want about testicular cancer survivors, but I think we’re a bunch of funny nuts… who are missing nuts.
As I read more and more into ChemBro, I found that Adam shared three vital themes throughout the whole book.
1. “Whenever you’re going through something major (like cancer,) it’s imperative that you find a doctor who shares your energy. You have to find someone you vibe with.”
“When a doctor wants to know about a patient’s daily life, it shows they’re actually going to think about their medical recommendations, rather than simply seeing a diagnosis and say, ‘Well, you have X, so you have to do Y.’”
His experiences with doctors ran the gamut, from incredible practitioners to atrocious people. I thought it was clever how he gave shoutouts to the good docs by using their names and opted for monikers (a la Dr. T) for the no-so-good ones.
He hit the nail on the head. Trusting and connecting with your medical team is paramount. I have nothing but good things to say about my experiences with all of my doctors, but I know this isn’t the norm.
Take it from Adam – don’t be afraid to ‘shop around’ and find what works best for you.
2. “Normalcy is what everyone who is going through chemo craves.”
One thing that I found most incredible about his journey was that he continued to work and work out during his entire treatment phase. He chose to do this because “doing my jobs, and going to the gym, also provided something I knew was going to be necessary during the chemo process – it provided a sense of normalcy.”
I cannot underscore this enough. I remember insisting that I was going to make pizza in the midst of chemo, just so I could feel like myself. Facing any type of cancer, at any stage, at any age, is anything but normal. Finding ways to hold onto that shred of routine can be so helpful and uplifting as one navigates this perilous journey. In some cases, this even manifests as a desire to use humor and laughter to get through the day:
“Some folks may read some of the jokes I make at my own expense and feel I use humor as a defense mechanism. I don’t see it that way… Cracking jokes about my own situation was a way to both cope with what I was going through, and to help those around me cope with what I was going through. Additionally, It helped create a sense of normalcy.”
One thing that Adam did learn to adapt to was that “if people are willing to help you, accept it! This is a lesson I’d quickly learn, and, because I’m me, and I’m Captain Independent (a f*cking terrible superhero), it’s a lesson I’d completely ignore.” I feel that as well, since all I wanted was my independence during recovery from surgery and beyond. However, it truly takes a village to face this disease, and no one can do it alone.
3. “I wanted something to shoot for.”
While the other lessons I gleaned from ChemBro focused more directly on cancer, this last message applies to everyone:
“I’m a huge believer in the idea that accomplishments snowball. Once you have one, you reach for another, and another, and whether it’s adrenaline, or endorphins, or some science thing I’m completely unaware of, it makes you feel great because you continually see yourself succeeding.”
Adam consistently set goals for himself, whether it was for chemo, surgical recovery, work, or the gym. This is a lesson we can all use in our daily life. Goals are so critical in constantly propelling us forward. As the book wrapped up, he reflected that “in retrospect, I’d accomplished my biggest overall goal – I’d refused to let a diagnosis define me.”
ChemBro – Embracing Beastmode to Beat Cancer is a fantastic book.
While it clearly deeply resonated with me, due to my shared status as a fellow Uniballer, I firmly believe this book has something for everyone in it. Adam would tend to agree, as he wanted to make a “book [that] is for anyone who is facing a hurdle in life (which is most everyone at some point).” That’s especially apt in this clusterf**k of a year that is 2020.
The book is well-written, nicely paced, and filled with both hilarious anecdotes and stories of triumph. I highly recommend this book and encourage you to check it out soon!
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