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Today is the 2-year anniversary of my diagnosis. I fully celebrate this day. I’m weird like that 😉 In the writing I did while awaiting test results, “Making Peace during the Waiting Game,” my inner work revealed a new definition for “diagnosis.” That word use to sound scary, permanent, a future-crumbling end…YOU’RE SCREWED LADY! Through meditative inquiry, I came to realize it’s none of these things.
It’s a new direction in life. It’s an arrow from the universe that says, “Ok, Love —> this way.”
Directions for the immediate moment: do nothing, breathe, stay present, find a doctor, show up to the appointment, question any stressful thoughts, take medicine (or not), go for a walk, or sit in nature. Directions may encompass a larger calling: change your career, help others through sharing your experience, pick up a paintbrush, volunteer, adopt a new workout routine, develop healthier eating habits, move to a new city, travel to an exotic land, do what you love.
Remembering THE call
As I reflect on the moment I got the call, I am met with fond memories. It was actually one of the sweetest, most intimate moments I have ever had with my husband. Feeling the squeeze of his hand when I answered the phone and was greeted by the doctor’s voice. The way time slowed down when we heard the words. How we held each other, trembling, crying, after we hung up the phone.
How I became a witness to the mind going in a million stories and scary movies, watching my body dry heaving over a toilet. I experienced pain, but it was not painful. It was pain with the absence of suffering.
The image of my mom’s face on the iPhone screen telling me she is booking a flight to come see me the next day. I remember the comforting hug at the airport, not wanting to let go.
I’m crying right now writing this. It was beautiful.
Those of you who have followed my journey through treatment to becoming cancer-free have seen that freedom from cancer can exist with or without cancer cells growing in your body. It’s possible to experience peace, joy, humor, connection, love, in what you think would be a nightmare.
So what are your nightmares?
Is it receiving a life-threatening diagnosis? Finding out that a loved one has tragically passed away? Going bankrupt? Or maybe it’s losing everything in a hurricane ~ a recent experience for many families in Houston and Florida.
The Work of Byron Katie is mental medicine. If these nightmares live only in your head, The Work is preventive medicine. It’s how to meet all of your fears, worries, anxieties with understanding and compassion. Identifying your stressful thoughts about each situation and then bringing them to inquiry can loosen the grip of your anxiety. It can help build resilience so that you can handle whatever life brings you. Coz let’s face it, we’re not in control of this thang called life.
I now prefer to explore my nightmares. I often ask myself:
How could this be good?
What is it teaching me?
Before I was diagnosed, I made a list of all of the ways that having cancer could make my life better. You can find the list here. I am happy to report that they all came true. And there have been countless more unforeseen blessings. This exercise + more examples can also be found in Katie’s first book, “Loving What Is,” ~ go to the chapter titled “Making Friends with the Worst That Can Happen.”
Over the past few months, I’ve been investigating my fears of the cancer returning terminally.
I have terminal cancer…and that means:
Cancer is killing me.
It’s not fair.
Death is painful.
My family will suffer.
It’s my fault.
God is punishing me.
I’m questioning my beliefs and finding out how it could be good if I received this news. It has left me with a fascination and curiosity about death. So far, the only thing that’s really dying are beliefs. One by one.
When a friend’s mother was told by doctors that the cancer had spread and she only had a few months to live, her mother responded with, “Ok. My diagnosis is to live every day to its fullest.” Now that’s a clear direction. Two years later, she passed in peace.
Looking forward to sharing my discoveries with you. xoxo
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Related blog posts…
Mental Medicine ~ The Work of Byron Katie
How I Found Peace during “The Waiting Game”
Getting the Call ~”You have Cancer”