I have come to learn the paradox that some survivors find—that cancer has turned out to be one of the greatest gifts of my life. Even living with its extraordinary uncertainty it has opened my eyes in appreciation of life’s beauty and just how extraordinary life itself can be."
- Tim Bachmeyer
I’ve been a cancer patient for over 10 years. Originally diagnosed with chronic idiopathic myelofibrosis for which there is no cure, I subsequently was also diagnosed 7 years ago with stage 4 (metastatic) melanoma. Thankfully I have been melanoma free for the past 6.
I have struggled with the deep uncertainty and loneliness that come with life-threatening illness, but over time have learned to face them head on by creating new life goals for myself. I have done this by learning how to talk with my wife, family, and friends about my feelings in spite of my hesitation to share. And I have opened myself to life in ways I never anticipated by asking what I really want from my life.
A big effect of cancer’s stigma can be social isolation, turning our life expectations and our sense of who we are as men inside out. It seems natural to try to take on the burden of our disease by ourselves and to shield those we love from our pain.
However, due to the strength of a loving family and friends, I have learned not to withdraw from my social world. In connecting with other men, many have told me they choose to keep their illness to themselves, thereby shutting off new ways to learn how to live well even with their disease.
In response I decided to write a book to share men’s and families’ experience with cancer in the hope they may find a wellness path they never anticipated. It is titled Dancing with the Elephant in the Room: Men with Cancer and Those Who Love Them.
Their conversations prompted me to open a cancer wellness coaching practice serving men with cancer, their spouses and partners (See CAREGIVING).
Tim is a graduate of Yale (BA, Philosophy) and the University of Chicago (Ph.D., Psychology and Religion).