Is Dying Failure?
Some people are told that they have 4-6 months to live, and they die within the 4-6 months. Some people are told they have less than a year to live, and live for many years after their diagnosis. Some people have less than 24 hours to live, and don't even know it.
The Universal Truth is that we all will eventually die. Paradoxically, we seemed to be programmed for survival. Immediately, upon hearing the words "it looks like cancer", my mind started to try to figure out ways to survive. Still on the surgical table, I could see what the surgeon was talking about. It seemed small. Just cut it out and I would get to carry on, or so I thought. Unfortunately, the diagnoses was an aggressive stage IV colon cancer, with metastases to the liver. Not a great prognosis. I was only 52 years old.
How does one come to terms with mortality? I can't really say what everyone else does, but if we look to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's stages of grief, I would say that denial was definitely my first stage. When I heard the word, "incurable", my first thought was "to cure from within." I worked on not getting sucked down the black vortex of the shadow victim, and ask "why me?" To inspire hope, I drew on the works of Kris Carr, Crazy Sexy Cancer; Anita Morjani's, Dying to Be Me; Louise Hay, You Can Heal Your Life; Radical Remissions, by Kelly Turner, and Cured, by Jeffrey Rediger. I started some active immune boosting treatments, initially thinking they would be part of the cure. I recognize that none of these actions has anything to do with realizing I am mortal and that I will die. All of these things are about "beating the odds" and surviving.
In the book Radical Remissions, many of the people followed the traditional medical model for cancer treatments, only to be told that nothing was working, and there was nothing more that could be done. It was then that they started making the radical lifestyle changes. I had already radically changed my dietary habits to a mostly whole food/plant based. I already took supplements. I exercised, didn't smoke, and drank socially. It felt that I was being asked to make changes that were beyond the physical. Transformational, Soul level changes. I was being slowly stripped of my physical stamina. My ability to work as a Physical Therapy gradually diminished, and abruptly terminated after the emergency colostomy surgery. I wasn't sure I was going to recover from that one. Not working also meant that financially, I was no longer in a position to help other people. I was the one in need of the assistance. Friends and family have been a tremendous support.
My mind wrestles with the concept of dying. It is the thought; "Will I still exist, once my body is no more?" My mind, will rummage through different scenarios trying to decide, if I made the correct choices. Where did I screw up? It is my thoughts about the loss of my physical stamina that create the sadness and suffering. Like a tsunami, feelings of uselessness have pushed me down to the bottom of the ocean. Being physically fit and active was part of my Modus Operandi (M.O). It was a part of who I felt I was. There is a grieving what I thought I was. I know that I have not reached the acceptance stage of the loss of my physical stamina. There is more of an anger mixed with a sadness. My mind creates the sadness when it examines all that is to be lost when I die. It is my mind that wrestles with the ideal of dying. My soul, though, feels at peace.
My Soul is at peace because I do believe in the concept of Soul Contracts/Sacred agreements, as taught by Robert Ohotto and Caroline Myss. My Soul, knows this to be true. My mind wants to go to the place of my shadow victim, and ask "why me?" My Soul asks, "What am I to do with the time that I have left here on earth?". My mind wants to defend my lifestyle choices, for this is still considered a preventable, lifestyle related disease. My Soul, hears Caroline's words, "if it is in your Contract to get a disease, you will get a disease", regardless of your lifestyle choices. My Soul accepts that if it is my time, then I will transition. My mind thinks my Soul is crazy, and I should fight like mad, and do whatever it takes to "beat the odds."
Even as the cancer seems to be taking more a hold of my body, I continue to work on building a stronger immune system, through reduced stress, more rest, better foods, and supplements. Accepting that I might actually not "beat the odds" and survive stage IV colon cancer, does not mean that I am ready to just roll over and die. My ultimate goal, is to live each day to the best of my ability. Some days I have less pain and more energy. I am able to do a bit more physical activity. Other days, I need a lot more rest.
I do not know my transition date. What I do know, is that I have a lot of people rooting for me to overcome the odds and survive. I am learning to listen and follow my intuitive senses. What if I do die from cancer? Did I fail? Is death failure? Death to my Soul is not failure. It is the end of my earthly Soul Contract, in the physical form. Death to my Wounded Ego self, is failure. I fear failure, more than I fear death. (written with a grin). This was a huge revelation during one of my emotional tapping sessions. It is time to let my Wounded Ego, that part of my Self, that feels like it has to prove something to others in order to be accepted, valued, and enough, that it has nothing to prove. In the words of my mentor/teacher, Robert Ohotto, "You are enough, just because you are here."
The World Health Organization in 2019 listed Ischemic Heart Disease as the leading cause of death, at 8.9 million deaths. Cancer was not listed in its top 10 causes of deaths. On the National Cancer Institute's site, it lists world-wide cancer deaths for 2018 at 9.5 million. It also states that 40% of people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives.
Living with cancer, means that I am still living. There are so many things that I can still enjoy, even if it is between naps.
What Do I Love?
That I can still feel the wind, bitter and cold;
That I can still let the rain, soak me right to the bone;
That I can still walk my dog, though it is more of a stroll;
That I can still see your smile, shining brightly like gold.
That when I feel pain, I know I'm alive;
That the purpose of life, is not to constantly strive.
That when the sun sets, the moon, it will rise;
That I still see that twinkle, like stars in your eyes.
That there are those in this life, who love me just for me;
That there is nothing to do, and nothing to be.
Dealing with cancer, has taken me off the hamster wheel of "striving and never arriving." Of seeking a life of "purpose and meaning." What I am learning, is the true value of life itself. Life without doing. Life without the go, go, go. Life without trying to be everything for everyone else, in order to feel valued, and needed. What I have noticed is that it is the connection with family and friends, and my dog Bauer, that I really value.
Thank you to all everyone in my life, who are supporting me on this journey. It is amazing even how even a message, "thinking of you" can give me a boost.