NOTE: I am in the middle of a WordPress learning curve. Thank you for your patience with any errors that have occurred. Thank you. -Redwing
Summer is here. It is actually a HOT, sunny day in San Francisco! Another green season of growth and wind and wildflowers has passed and with it our illusion that days will just continue to be long and languid. Solstice is the longest day of the year, and although it heralds the lush life of summer and swimming and sunshine it really is the marker that tells us that now the days will shorten, once again. This is not about doom or gloom, just a reality check.
Many reality checks for me. Being BRCA+ means I am under the medical microscope for the rest of my life. Although I don’t enjoy this reality, I do respect the western medical inclination to heal in the ways they understand!
This Spring has been a season of returning to my Self. Some days I feel that I was in a bad nightmare for many months, or under a dark and cloudy veil that has finally lifted. I was not “sick” before my diagnosis of ovarian cancer. I had some discomfort, yes, but never felt truly “ill.” I only felt truly ill during chemotherapy. Living life in 3 -week cycles became the normal routine. One week of hell, 2 weeks of tolerable tiredness. A cycle that worsened slightly with each treatment, and was quite challenging by the end. But now, that reality is done.
I am healed and healing.
I am whole.
I am not the same person I was 3 months ago, or certainly 10 months ago, before becoming a “cancer patient.” I will never be the same person again. But isn’t that true of all of us, on any given day? We are not the same as we were yesterday. My Chinese Medicine doctor, Michael Broffman, ( a brilliant practitioner at the Pine Street Clinic in San Anselmo) said to me that in Eastern medicine, the ultimate goal of healing is complete transformation—becoming as unrecognizable as possible, compared to who one was before a healing crisis. I remember Angeles Arrien, another brilliant teacher who died recently, asking of a group of us—“How many times have you shed your skin and become something new?”
These are thoughts that I ponder, as I embark on the next phase of my journey.
My friend Willow Wray, whom I met in the infusion center, died of metastatic ovarian cancer during this time of my getting stronger. Her strength, her courage, her tenacity, her creativity, her music, and finally, her willingness to let go and allow herself to respond to the call of the Mystery, were such an inspiration. And at times, a source of sadness, fear, anxiety. She lived less than a year after her diagnosis. I want to be like the women I know who have lived for 5, 10, 20 years after diagnosis. And truly, I believe that I will still live a long time. PLEASE, if you want inspiration, go to her website and buy the CD that she recorded in the last weeks of her life: http://wilianniemusic.com
I have had 3 months away from my regular job as Director of Palliative Care at Jewish Family and Children’s Services, and 10 weeks since the end of the last round of chemo, and I feel GREAT and vital and ALIVE and energetic. And as I prepare for returning to work full-time, tomorrow, I wonder, am I ready? I am aware that this cannot be a “going back” to what was before, but a going FORWARD in a new way, as my new Self. Am I prepared for this reality? Some moments I think – “Can’t I just have a bit more time, to heal and relax? To feel my body in its strength without tiredness?” But truly, it is time to re-emerge into the work life. A work life that nurtures me in so many ways, and yet now I have the opportunity to stop and breathe, when I am not being nurtured by how I spend the precious hours of my days, and examine the situation. I bring a new awareness of stress. I can no longer tolerate toxins in my body, in any forms. I must bring a transformed Self into this next phase of my “one wild and precious life.”
Blessed be the Transformation of Energy.
…from a writing exercise with my friend Merijane, inspired by the line of a song….
ALL THAT’S AHEAD OF ME
All that’s ahead of me,
I don’t know
How can I?
Such tight circles form the spirals
of this life
No straight lines
No breath is separate
From the one before it, or after
Each step allows us to see the very next one,
That is all
Not the illusions or circumstances
That lie beyond the curve of the path we walk
How can I know what is ahead?
I can imagine
I can wish
I can dream
I can hope
I can even plan
But ah, the suffering of humans that comes
With attachment to our plans
If I dig down deep
And come up slowly for air
What I know is this:
I must let the tides take me
I will never become a warrior in the battle against cancer
Because I have no enemies whom I wish to defeat
I must allow the unfolding of life and love,
and love All the possibilities
I must develop acuity of listening
And to the inner workings
and complicated mechanisms
of the ticking timepiece
of my own heart