Thursday, October 26, 2017

What Transformation Isn't

As always, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is what I have known deep down since my rib started throbbing a few weeks ago – the biopsy showed that it is breast cancer. I already knew that, so I’m not in shock or upset – mostly disappointed.

The good news is that it is still highly estrogen-positive and HER-2 negative (for you non-medical types, that means it’s less aggressive and treatable with several relatively non-invasive options.) I will most likely switch to a different estrogen-blocking oral medication and monitor again in 4-6 months. More tests will be done to see if it’s a new cancer or a regrowth of what I had before. And as always, we will monitor to see if it spreads or stays put, or better yet, disappears.

I got the phone call and literally ran out the door for a massage that just happened to be scheduled long before I know it would be perfectly timed. It was just what I needed to ground me in my body and help keep me feeling expansive. Thank you Natalia!

Cancer is a transformative ordeal. So much of my life has changed because of it, and not all for the worse. Even though I cringe when I hear some people refer to cancer as “a gift” I can see how it has made me pay attention, cultivate discernment, and refine the way I make choices. As far as the “gift” goes, if I had a choice, I’d return it to Macy’s and exchange it for a sweater. But since it isn’t a gift, and I can’t return it, I ponder what this transformation is about…

What Transformation Isn’t?

Transformation isn’t about self-improvement. If you approach making changes in your life in the spirit of what’s wrong with you, then you might miss the opportunities that arise from what’s right with you. There’s nothing wrong with you that can’t be helped in some way by what’s right with you.

Transformation isn’t about curing a disease. It’s certainly great when this happens, but many diseases are chronic or terminal and their presence in your life doesn’t prohibit you from experiencing transformation in some other way. Being attached to getting rid of a malady can prevent you from experiencing transformation elsewhere in your life.

Transformation isn’t about fixing something. Some things in life that are broken are simple and can be mended. A paper cut on your finger seems dramatic when it happens, but a week or so later you notice that it has healed on its own without a trace.

A broken bone can knit back together, but a trauma that is forceful enough to break a bone causes other tissue damage, as well as a generalized reaction to the shock can leave a residue of vulnerability in the system. A broken heart can mend, but often leaves a trace of sensitivity. Leonard Cohen, in his song, “Anthem” reminds us that it is this brokenness that allows light to shine,
“There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.”
Consider that broken-heartedness might not need fixing. Even the word “fix” is problematic. It comes from the Latin “fixus,” which means to fasten, which is contrary to the very nature of the living human body, which is in constant motion. Everything in the body, as well as in our emotional and mental activity needs to move freely to express optimum health. Fixing something, holding it in place is contrary to the laws of the nature of living systems.

I can’t “fix” my cancer. I want it to move, to metabolize itself and leave me intact. I can’t help wanting this…and I know my best chance comes from meeting each moment and listening to the call from this deep dark process that has grown inside me, and allow the light to shine in all directions.

Here’s a sculpture by Paige Bradley that inspires me: