What is your natural reaction to something you fear in your life? Do you avoid it or lean in towards it? It is well knowing for us to grow as people stepping out of our comfort zone is crucial and you could argue it is where greatness can happen. 

However, stepping out of your comfort zone can be scary, and putting yourself into challenging situations where you might fail is not for everyone.

Our beliefs around failure are not always positive, it is hard for us to understand that failing can be an opportunity to learn. 

I remember an early sports coach telling me that it is great to win but learning to lose will teach you some important principles in life, and he wasn’t wrong. Some of my early loses in sport taught me how to get back up after been knocked down; they taught me how to work hard and not to give up.  

These lessons have kept me going through the last 11 years of constant diagnoses and surgery and I would say gave me the ability to face fear. I love stepping out of my comfort zone and pushing myself. I try most weeks to do this and would encourage you to find things in life that push you out of yours. 

Facing fear in lots of ways can be a privilege for many - the athlete who experiences their fear or worry around selection or not winning is a much more privileged position to that of someone on a cancer ward - yet their mind and body still has the same fear response internally and many of the same psychological tools can be used to help manage both situations.

You would think after a life in sport, both winning but mostly experiencing life off the podium I would have all the tools to deal with fear. 

I do in most situations that present themselves but returning from Jamacia to walk through the doors of the hospital where I had my last two operations to save my life and at the same time put end to my Tokyo hopes I found myself paralysed by fear. 

The lessons from sport redundant as I stood at the desk checking in for a morning of tests, my breathing no longer under my control, the tightening of my shoulders and body apparent for all to see. 

It is only a scan I hear you say. Yes, you’re correct, it is only a scan, but it is the gravity of this scan that puts me into a state of fear.

I have accepted my fate in sport, and I am happy at not winning in that arena, but I want to win in life and that for me is my tumour shrinking or disappearing completely. However, this is something that is not really in my control, and unlike the fear that can manifest through getting on the start line of a race, this situation I find myself in is not my choice. 

I can’t not go to hospital and just avoid these days as that would possibly cost me my life, so I have to dig deep into all those early lessons in sport I learned and use them today in hospital but also over the coming weeks as I wait for the results of this scan. 

Hours pass and finally I find myself sat in a small changing room, all tests are done, and I am free to go home. As I get dressed, navigating the challenges of not touching too many surfaces when paralysed, I pause to reflect on what this experience has taught me yet again. 

Like every scan, and like every time I walk through a hospital door, I feel more alive - more than at any other point in my life. 

The closer I walk that line of life and death, the more it teaches me about living. I make a promise to leave here and get back to living in the present and challenging myself daily at stepping out of my comfort zone with things that I choose to do. I don't let my tumour dictate how I live each day between hospital appointments.

This is easy to say but much harder to do. I have experienced extreme pain since leaving the heat of Jamacia and trying to get my body moving again is proving quite challenging. And with the cloud of oncology looming over me in June, I need to remind myself of what Marcus Aurelius said about living today if it was your last day alive.