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The Intersection of Mental Fitness and Cancer

Scott Mikesh, Instructor, Neurodiversity Specialist, Speaker, Author


"Empathy really, again, that ability to use your imagination to think, how would I feel in this person's situation, like taking myself out of my own situation and really using your imagination to think with what this person has dealt with in their life, with what they are experiencing." - Scott Mikesh


Welcome to another installment of the "Navigating Cancer TOGETHER" podcast blog series. In this episode, I continue my special series honoring National Cancer Survivor Month and I bring to the forefront an illuminating conversation with Scott Mikesh, a trailblazer in the mental fitness movement.


Scott Mikesh is an award-winning LGBTBE® business leader, communicator, and neurodiversity specialist, recognized as one of the pioneers in mental fitness. Scott founded 4D FIT Mental Fitness, a platform dedicated to promoting mental health, motivation, and achievement from the inside out. His book, titled "My Brain Can't Poop," serves as a mental fitness guide for humans, shedding light on the critical factors of brain health, mental function, and neurodiversity necessary for maintaining mental well-being.


Scott's Personal Journey


Scott’s journey into mental fitness began in his childhood, deeply rooted in his struggle with self-acceptance and identity as a gay man. These internal conflicts propelled him into exploring psychology, particularly how attitudes and behaviors could be influenced through artistic and creative expression. He leverages both his creativity and a strong background in social psychology, emphasizing the importance of creativity in brain health and motivation.


The Power of Creativity and Empathy


Scott’s approach underscores the role of empathy and creativity. He describes empathy as being driven by our prefrontal cortex, enabling us to use our imagination to empathize with others by putting ourselves in their shoes. Creativity, as he explains, is not only about artistic skill but about bringing ideas to life, a critical function that connects our internal and external worlds.


Impact of Cancer on Scott's Family


Cancer has meaningfully affected Scott’s family, impacting his mother, brother, sister, and father. Each family member's journey with cancer came with unique struggles and lessons. Scott narrates the emotional and physical toll it took on him, being the middle sibling, and constantly fearing the next diagnosis or his own.

 

His brother, diagnosed with testicular cancer at a young age, went through vigorous treatments, and his sister, diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, faced a similar battle shortly after. Despite these challenges, both siblings have been in remission for over 20 years.

 

Scott’s father was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and, more recently, bladder cancer, reiterating the continuous presence and impact of cancer in his life.



"To do the healthful thing is an art form in itself." - Scott Mikesh



Scott Mikesh is the founder of 4D Mental Fitness. He is a mental fitness instructor, neurodiversity specialist, author, and speaker.


Mental Fitness: A Proactive Approach


Scott's mental fitness practice focuses on preparing for life’s challenges before crises occur. Mental fitness, he explains, is about being proactive in caring for our mental health just as we do for our physical health. His mantra is to “mind what matters” rather than subscribe to the unrealistic notion of mind over matter. The brain and nervous system are critical to our well-being, and taking care of them is paramount.


Lessons for Caregivers and Loved Ones


For caregivers and loved ones of cancer patients, Scott’s advice is simple yet profound: show up and be present. The mere presence of a loved one can significantly lower stress and enhance the healing process. While it’s natural to want to fix things, sometimes just being there, offering peace and comfort, is the most powerful support one can provide.


Misunderstandings About Mental Health and Wellbeing


A significant misunderstanding about maintaining health and well-being is the disconnect between understanding brain functions and nervous systems. Mental health isn't just about psychological theories; it involves acknowledging and caring for the physical brain and its functions. Awareness and education about how these systems work can prevent harm and promote healthier living.


Encouragement for Those Diagnosed with Cancer


To those newly diagnosed with cancer, Scott offers heartfelt advice: embrace your unique journey, stay educated, and don't lose hope. Each person’s body and reaction to treatment are different. Statistics can be scary and limiting, but it’s crucial to recognize that individual experiences can greatly differ. Trials and treatments are part of the journey, and staying curious and hopeful is essential.


Final Thoughts


Scott’s work and experiences provide invaluable insights into the interconnectedness of mental fitness and physical health, especially in the context of facing cancer. His message encourages us to embrace creativity, empathy, and proactive mental fitness practices to navigate life’s challenges with resilience and hope.


For more about Scott’s work and to explore his nonprofit partner program visit mentalfitness4all.org.


Listen to the full episode to hear directly from Scott as he shares his inspiring journey and insights on mental health, how creativity and mental fitness can make a difference, cancer support, and more!


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Reflection: After listening to this episode, do you have a better understanding of mental fitness? If so, how can you apply what you learned to your life?







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