Musings by Chris and Photos by Jim
When it became apparent that my cancer was spreading very rapidly and that it was on my tongue, impacting speech and eating, the obvious question was “What have I not been saying?” Where have I been holding back in my life?
That churned up a whole lot of emotional baggage, but there is an element of clearing, not just physically but also emotionally, that is essential for healing. Having always been one who needs to feel in control, who wants to be viewed as competent and capable, and who doesn’t easily ask for nor accept help, that resonated with me. I would love to say that I have tackled this emotional block, that I have been consuming all the right plant-based foods, and coupled with my naturopathic regime I am healed. What I do know, is that this cancer may be visible to me now and highly pervasive, but in truth, it took root a long while ago. It chose now to manifest and speak to me, rendering me speechless and buckled at the knees.
This is how my dis-ease showed up for me. What I would suggest is that all dis-ease sits in a vault under lock and seal waiting for the inopportune moment to announce its presence. More often than not, it is going to target areas of vulnerability – those areas of the body that in fact get the most use and quite frequently we value over all else. Those areas that have defined who we are in this life, for it is those areas that we often have plowed through while ignoring calls for attention and perhaps alternative ways to be with oneself.
I have always been very verbal. My professional life was founded on my ability to articulate verbally what others often could not do for themselves. I will now be highly dependent on others to meet my needs. I’ve already downloaded an App for my iPad that will allow me to type and voice activate my words. It’s a start. I feel blessed that I live in an age of technology to augment my communication needs.
For the first time, I am reaching out to others asking for help – not just for me but for Jim as well. I am asking for family and close friends to be with me as much as possible in the hospital and to split time with Jim and me. Amidst all of this, we are moving into Victoria. Jim will have lots to do while I’m in recovery for 10 days. Recovery will continue post-hospital stay for at least another 2-3 months. Asking this of close friends and family actually feels liberating. Interesting to notice what I failed to ask for in the past.
What am I not saying? I’m frightened. I fear the pain and the long recovery. I fear losing a significant amount of my tongue and possibly never to be able to speak or swallow again. Definitely I will never speak clearly – that is a given. Considering I worked in the area of disabilities for much of my career, I’m already focusing on adaptations. I know I can adapt and I will. Laughingly I suggested to my daughter all her children now will need to know how to read, because I will be writing to them extensively. She said she would buy me a whistle so I can get their attention. My mother upon ending a recent phone conversation said it was good to hear my voice. We then both cracked up at the irony of the statement. Laughter is important in the face of what currently seems like insurmountable odds.
What I keep reminding family and friends, is that this may be our last intelligible conversation. I tell everyone how much I love and appreciate him or her. I’m hugging more. I hold Jim tightly, while anxiety attacks tip me over Niagara Falls in a barrel. I’m watching lots of mindless television – looking for pure escapism. We walk as much as possible. Meditation is a reprieve from the pain and my mind.
I acknowledge how amazing my life has been. I am struck by how many rich and varied experiences I have had personally and professionally. We have traveled extensively. We made friends in other countries. We have embarked on innovative and creative life style changes and transformations. I have had a number of professional careers. I have been successful in my areas of expertise. I have found ways to give voice to a number of causes and beliefs. I have lived fully with no regrets. I’ve been asked, if any of that will change with the alteration of my tongue. In truth, no. I will still be me and life’s experiences will still rise above the fray and light a path to love and joy.
Maybe I haven’t always been forthcoming. Perhaps I tried to hold life too closely to my chest. I trust that there is more for me to learn on this journey and my next phase of life. I view my next journey ensconced in silence, offering me the needed time for reflection and alternative forms of expression I never gave myself permission to experience. There is something gained when one is a listener.
I want to share with all of you, I deeply appreciate ALL the love and positive affirmations you have been sending my way. Everyday, someone sends me a note wishing me well and hoping I’m having a good day. I am so touched and honoured to be in your thoughts. On March 11, I will be in surgery from 9 am to 3 pm. All I ask is if you are so inclined, to send light and love to me. Hold me for a moment in your thoughts. For now, that is all I have to say. For now, I am complete. With gratitude, Chris.