Saturday, December 4, 2010

Join Me In Being Alive & Breathing Together Right Now

I have good news and some not too bad news. The bad news is that I do have a spot of metastasis in my pelvis (in my "sit bone," to be exact). The good news is that there is a possibility that it's not really new. It's most likely been there a while and just wasn't discovered earlier. My first CAT scan last year didn't extend far down enough to show it. At the time they were more interested in looking for cancer inside my pelvic cavity, than outside in the bones around the edges. So when the scan stopped an inch short of my sit bone, no one seemed to think it mattered. This means I have no way to know how long it's been there, and even though I can't feel it, I have a feeling it's been there a while.

This information doesn't really change anything, except my mood. It doesn't change my treatment. It doesn't change my prognosis. A few more specks in the bone don't mean much in the big picture. Regardless of what I think or feel about how long I've had this, my life in this moment is exactly the same.

My challenge in all of this is to remember I'm the same person I was before the CAT scan. This result doesn't change my actual life; it just changes what I think about my life. I had an old Indian teacher who used to say, "Your mind is a bad neighborhood. Don't go there. You'll get mugged."

This is the reality of this disease. It is chronic. It will most likely come, and hopefully go, for the rest of my life, regardless of how long that ends up being. I can't help but want to be special, be a miracle, be an overachiever, be an outlier, and I don't want to feel like a failure or that I am to blame if things don't go as I prefer.

This is as close as I get to positive thinking. I acknowledge my desire to live a long life and to have a chance to re-invent my life if I ever go back to doing something other than caring for myself full-time. I want to have more adventures. I want to be with my loved ones and be a part of their lives unfolding. I want to be of service to people again someday. The intensity of these desires and my longing for life feels like my life force expressing itself. How do I maintain this passion for life and yet let go of what I can't control?

I don't believe in positive thinking because I don't believe that thinking is the way to guide our lives. Positive or negative thinking is still thinking, and thinking is not the most powerful force in us. The harm that's done is obvious when people get caught in repetitive negative thinking, but positive thinking can also make a person blind to that which they really need to be responding. There's a fine line between positive thinking and denial. And regardless of what we think, our unconscious still exerts more influence than our conscious thoughts. I believe that people who say one thing and unconsciously harbor the opposite are ultimately at much more risk of serious consequences, because they are in internal conflict and discord and not in touch with the necessity of the moment.

So I let myself feel the disappointment, the sadness, the grief, but I don't dwell on it. It's like bad weather; it will pass. I try not to let fearful scenarios take up space in my thinking because they are clearly only one possible future. I also try not to dwell on my desire to have my life be mended, because my desires are not reliable either. If I get too attached it makes it harder to cope with not getting what I want when that eventually happens. Inhale. . . exhale. . . It's good to be alive and breathing as I sit here typing on this Saturday morning knowing that you all will be reading this and joining me in being alive together right now.