So, as the seismic shock waves of the summer’s events rumble off like thunder into the distance with the fleeing autumn, I emerge bruised, blinking mole-like, and poke my head from beneath the rubble to survey the damage.
The good news is – I am alive. Yay.
The bad news is – oh yes, the bad news. The Bad news, or should I say the BAD NEWS!!! Is the small matter of the cancer that has just sat down at the table uninvited and spoiled the party.
In September this year, I was diagnosed with stage 4, inoperable lung cancer, after a very brief, bizarre out – of – the – blue illness. To all intents and purposes and completely unbeknown to me, my number was seriously up, the grim reaper was tapping and peering in at the window and crooking his finger at me. Through a series of fortuitous yet alarming and unpleasant events I ended up in A & E one Saturday night, just in time, where within hours I underwent an emergency procedure to drain a litre of fluid from around my heart, an act which undoubtedly saved my life.
Since that day, which I shall refer to as B.C (before cancer diagnosis) life has changed beyond measure, as you would expect; NOW every day is a bonus. Life is now completely unrecognisable from how it was before and I no longer feel as if I am the same person.
But then, I’m not sure I want to be.
The diagnosis of cancer has thrown down the gauntlet, challenging me to address and face up to what is dis-eased in my life, to heal and mend all those things, the relationships, the unreleased emotions, and unresolved issues etc etc that are the very cause of illness. It has shown me what love and generosity and kindness and compassion there is in the world. And, again and again, I keep coming back to the powerful words of Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,
our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure”
Because, it’s when we are up against it, when the tidal wave of fear is overwhelming and the options are fading, that we need to tap into that inner warrior, that inner teacher, inner doctor, priest, shaman, child, parent , guru, healer so that we can be empowered just at the very time when the wind has been knocked from our sails, just at the very time we need an army of support and a rampart of resilience.
Just when you want to curl up, give up, scream, cry, when all seems lost, that is exactly the moment when we need to remember the truth of these words:
So, cancer, (and no, I am not going to elevate your status with a capitol “c”.) I accept your challenge – and I accept it because a) I have no choice and b) oh yeah, I have no choice.
BUT – one thing, cancer, I do know; and I make this vow. I am NOT giving all my power away to you. You cannot destroy my life entirely, you cannot steal my humour, my capacity for love, you cannot keep me prisoner in a richtus of fear, you can’t stop me laughing publicly at inappropriate moments, or dreaming of the future, or dancing or praying, drumming or rattling or singing loudly in bad Spanish.
No, cancer, you might have created the mother of all Tsunami’s in my humble little existence the day I heard the words: “I’m so sorry blah blah blah lung cancer blah blah can’t operate blah blah, so sorry, palliative, blah bloody blah. ”
But, I want to thank you for the opportunity to really discover who I am, where I am from and why am I here. In the days since you made yourself known to me, beneath the shock and fear and tears and grief, I have glimpsed something in this existence so exquisite, so inspiring, more beautiful than I can find words to describe. How, cancer, can you be at once something so terrifying and yet so illuminating.
This then, is a journal of my journey, my quest, my pilgrimage to health, wellness and wholeness, with cancer as my teacher and guide. Musings, meditations, and curious meanderings through a mind making sense of an uneven playing field, in the dark with no torch. Grasping my #glasshalffull in one hand and my laminated membership card to the cancer club in the other, come walk with me, an accidental cancer pilgrim, keep me company, as I will you, as we wend way along the camino of Life.