Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,
what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.
In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.
And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.
~Ranier Maria Rilke
What batters you becomes your strength. 23:50 hours of each day, I believe that with every fiber of my being. I am certain that this situation and season of life is just a teacher, and class is in session. I believe that the personal trainer is simply asking me to ‘up my weights’ and grow through the struggle. And I am fine. Better than fine, I am thriving.
But the other 10 minutes a day? That is the uncontainable night. That is where fear creeps in, statistics and averages become real, fatigue wins, and I retreat to my bed, cover my head, and cry.
This is usually preceded by a well meaning friend telling me about their loved one who battled cancer courageously for X years, and then passed. Or news on Facebook that a dear friend and fellow hockey Mom lost her battle to breast cancer. It can be that ‘I told you’ look from my husband when he sees that I have lost weight, as if that’s the sign that we’re going downhill in slow motion, but downhill none the less. Most recently, it was holding my fellow cancer friends’ freshly shaved head during Savasana.
I share this because I want this blog to be an honest account of my very personal journey through living with Stage 4 cancer. Mine is not a story of dying of cancer. At least not yet. I am very much alive. I am not sick. After two months of chemo the only real side effect is I’m more tired. I go to bed earlier, and wake up later. As my Mom says “Well that probably just evens the playing field. You can now relate to how the rest of us feel all the time”. Love you Mom!
I am learning to rest when I need rest. To be out here in the world living and thriving when I have the energy. And more than anything, learning to feel the feels.
In our teacher training we talk about “Face and Replace”. Recognizing an emotion, feeling it in our body, and giving it time. It takes the body about 90 seconds to physically process the reactions to an emotion. The butterflies, sweaty palms and pits, lump in the throat, goosebumps, etc. 90 seconds. If we are still replaying the story, and allowing the emotion to run after those 90 seconds, we are CHOOSING to stay in that emotion. Not bad or wrong, just a choice. Some emotions need more time.
I know that to heal from anything…to have a strong immune system, to keep stress low and endorphins high, the mind is my number one medicine. So after my 10 minutes of “Face and Feel” I get to choose where I go next. For me, the instant doorway out of the darkness is gratitude. My fast exit is to step outside into a sunny Autumn day, feel the sun on my face, and wind in my hair. Seeing the colors of Mother Nature showing off in the most spectacular way. Breathing the fall air.
Grateful for ALL of it.