This entry is for all you Stage IV diva's (and gods) out there reading. I am going to raw, honest, and confessional, despite the public format. That is a little hard. I will run into people at school, the library, etc. who will read this. And they will look at me, with some fear or pity or whatever. But Whatever. This is for all you Stage IV'ers out there. I do this, because it seems like this all so taboo. I want to break down that, so we can learn from each other.
Yesterday was a "hard" day. I had a cold, energy was stagnating around me, life was starting to seem far away and I was just a by stander. An ambitious, not-done-what-I-came-her-to-do-yet 30 something mom and wife. I hadn't lived like I wanted. I had put off a few KEY things. AHHHHHHH! I was spiraling down the pit of "oh no! I didn't....what if's........", over a cold. It had to stop.
Being told you are Stage IV can really take the confidence out of you. What once seemed certain, becomes uncertain. Everything breaks down. Trusting that a new, improved self will rebuild in it's place....well, that is the trick now isn't it. I am learning to live with new limitations.
I can't have another child, probably adopting is out. OUCH.
Even if I could, could I hold this child. Literally HOLD this child?????
I wanted this job, but realized the small part about lifting 50 pounds was out....for now.
I could count on that youthful energy, and now I need to nap like a little ole lady.
etc, etc. Cue the pity party music.
And I was starting to stale, like bread left neglected on the counter. I could "see" my life, but was starting to feel fear. Getting a stomach flu, after being so sick with chemo, can kind of trigger fear. It is hard to tell yourself, it is just temporary, this isn't going to last 6 months, just 6 days. On Sunday nights, my port still starts hurting and twitching. This started a few month back. I have literally had to tell it, ALOUD, that it wasn't going to get poked and bruised the next day and to calm down. And it DOES. Woah.
But, I say this again, the most fundamental thing about healing is about living in the NOW.
And my NOW was beoming one of fear. I know, it is GOOD for you health to live honestly. To let emotions show up, observe them, and let them teach you, and then let them move on. But it is NOT healthy to let them entangled you and stagnate. When you start to feel a power struggle with an emotion, it means it has overstayed it's usefulness and it is time to take action.
Since I wasn't strong enough to dance it out, I went the gentle route and took a bath........and I cried. I cried about the biopsy 7 months ago, that hurt like hell because the anathesia didn't work (they did over 12 sample pulls....). I cried at my fear I had shelved because I had to focus on healing. I cried about aspects of this journey I didn't even know I had pent up emotions about.
I cried and cried and then........ I laughed while crying, because even though I had this outer shell of fears and saddness releasing, my inner core was SO at peace and so in love with experiencing life, no matter how it looked or how it was labeled. I laughed, because I knew this was all just a part of a wonderful journey and I was honored to simplybe alive to experience those emotions. I gave them deep reverence for the lessions they brought.
All this crying and laughing......I guess I am a Divine Mess. hehehehehehe. And I love myself for being a Divine Mess and asked mother/father God (however you refer to the force that binds us all and gives us life) to please allow me to let go of who I use to be, embrace my new self, with new limitations, and new wisdom, and use this NEW life, in whatever way would be of service to humanity and the planet.
And the clouds cleared. Instantly, in that moment of letting myself go and finally feeling everything so deeply. I went from being stagnated and fearful, to all out clear. It is healthy to not lose your mind all the time, but when done in the right time and place, going to the edge of an emotion you fear feeling can be the most liberating thing. And when death has knocked on your door, you have emotions you've never had to deal with before. (A great book, "A Path With Heart", by Jack Kornfield, talks about finding the edges of emotions we fear and in facing them, we release them.).
I saw my purpose. I saw WHY I decided to go through this cancer experience. I saw how it completed a chapter of knowledge in my book of life.
I got very very very clear.
I am an artist.
I am a writer.
I am a philosopher.
I am a teacher.
I am full of compassion.
I am full of hope.
I am full of love.
I am full of fiestiness.
I am a warrior.
I am a graduate of Bastyr. I know ALL about how the mind plays a role in this disease.
And what I learned is this:
I can lead others through and help them lead happier lives, despite being diagnosed. I have these tools to share.
So, if you are a Stage IV cancer patient. Please, remember, your life ISN'T over. The life you knew BEFORE is over. LET IT GO. Trust that the life the is still before you (and there is, even until the last breath) is going to be different and better! Cancer can teach us the art of letting go.
And in my newfound realization, I leave everyone with this. I do this exercise with my daughter frequently at bedtime:
We send this light, filled with warmth and vibrancy and love through her body.
We start by imagining this light hovering just above her head. This light is gentle and brilliant, with sparks of jewel like colors dancing around it. It has a sense of safety and peace.
We let this light gently enter into her mind first. It "hugs" the thoughts racing through her mind. She is still allowed to think thoughts, the light just lets her think them very very slowly.
Then the light begins to move down each part of her body. In once continuous unbroken path. Head, to face (including jaw joints, eye sockets, tongue), scalp, neck, shoulders, etc..... be as detailed as you have time/endurance for.
We imagine that anywhere the light touches, it hugs that part of the body, down to the cell, and LOVES it completely and leaves it with a sense of safety and good health.
Every so often, I say, "Your thoughts start to move slower now. Almost become very very still. And as you mind relaxes, your body relaxes." (Thanks to Cai Bristol for this tidbit!)
Once we get to to her feet, we imagine that her body is now filled with little rivers of this light, and the catch any debris that she doesn't NEED anymore (she can hold onto it if she still needs to learn). It can be fear, pain, anxiety, joy, hyper energy, etc.
Whatever it is gets carried along the current and sent out her feet. We always end it with: "Let mother earth take this energy and transform it into new energy that will be helpful for whatever tomorrow brings."
This may sound very "new age"-ish. But there is a very real neurochemical and brain wave reaction happening along with this. Immune system functions increase. Brain waves slow down, and allow a deeper sleep, and thus a more healing sleep. You begin to build up neurotransmitters, just like muscles. The neurotransmitters your are exercising and creating synapses for, become more prevelant and efficient. You have a greater sense of well being, and you are actually doing healing work.
My white blood cells stayed in the normal range my entire 6 month weekly course of chemo!
That is the essence of our Stage IV journey. Everyday, is new. Everyday is a day we are alive. And this day just let yourself be whatever you need to be to be healthy. Cry, laugh, rest, run. Whatever is true for you. So many people have an idea of what we "should" be doing, or feeling, or deciding to do with ourselves. If we practice NOW, I truly believe it leads us to a longer, healthier life (however long that may be).