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Another Mammogram (Sigh)

7 Apr

I still don’t like getting mammograms.  Not because they squish the most sensitive area of my body, although that’s not fun.  Not because they’re really uncomfortable, although they are.  But because I’m subjecting my body to more radiation, and radiation is one of several risk factors for developing cancer.

It’s just so crazy.

I’m so glad thermography has been developed as an alternate way of diagnosing breast cancer.  But sadly, it is still not covered by insurance.  I don’t know if it’s because it costs so much more or if it’s because the people who manufacture and profit from the mammogram machines are in cahoots with the insurance industry.  But whichever it is, it puts women in a more tenuous position with regard to their health.  And that just sucks.

I don’t have any clinician currently urging me to get another screening mammogram.  (Although I’ve only had two, post- lumpectomy, and I know standard practice is to recommend them every six months for the first couple years or so.)  In fact, I feel the healthiest I’ve been in almost twenty years.   My diet keeps improving, I’m getting regular exercise, I’m living the life I want to live, and I’m happy.   The only reason I’ve scheduled another set is I’ve had some more cancer dreams.

I am aware that most dreams have symbolic meanings and that cancer is no exception.  But I also don’t like to rule out the possibility of “warning dreams.”

I had two or three cancer dreams in recent months, but in the one which felt scariest I dreamed a principal was scratching his head and that somehow this particular action meant he had brain cancer.  And then a voice in my dream – a narrator kind of voice – said to me, “You have stage IV.”

So, because I pay attention to my dreams, and because I believe dreams always come for the purpose of health and healing (as dream expert and author Jeremy Taylor teaches), I will act as if these are warning dreams and double-check to make sure my breasts are still healthy.  And, I will also check with some dream partners to ascertain if there is another meaning I should be aware of.

Meanwhile, I head to the hospital tomorrow for more freakin’ mammograms.

I trust all will be well.  But unlike the person who keeps his keys in the ignition and then complains when his car has been stolen, I’m going to take precautions.

 

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Healing as a Process

15 Apr

April 10, 2012

 

I will be getting another stereotactic biopsy on Monday.  I’m hoping it’s my last one.  I’m ready to be done with all this cancer drama.  I’m ready to be “just me,” as my friend Art used to always say.  (“How are you?”  I’d say.   “I’m just me,” he’d reply.)

 

Also, it’s been a little over ten months since this saga has begun.  It feels like a good time for reflection.

 

This is what I’ve noticed.  For about eight of the last ten months, I feel like I’ve been pretty worthless on a productivity level.   I like to think of myself as being pretty strong, but it seems clear this health scare threw me for a much greater metaphysical loop than I’d ever have imagined.

 

I truly did not have much energy for doing much of anything.  I certainly didn’t have energy for work.  Or for being responsible.  Or for doing things for other people.  If I put on my judgmental hat, I would have all kinds of rather nasty, disapproving things to say about myself.  But if I put on my wings and look at myself from a place of greater compassion, I realize I was a bit more fragile than I thought I was.  And whether it was completely conscious or not, I ended up giving myself plenty of time to truly process things.

 

I’d written a blog post a couple weeks ago in which I was wallowing in my shame about this non-productive time in my life.  I ended up not publishing it, and have to say I’m glad.  Because since that time, I’ve had a couple instances of reassurance that I wasn’t just a total slug, that important work was going on.

 

First, I had a session with a friend who is highly intuitive.  (She has a great gift and she offered me a session as part of an exchange.  I took care of her house and her wonderful dog. Along with some money, she gave me a reading. Yay!)  One of the things she told me was that I’d done a lot of work in the last two years and that the next two years would be good ones as a result.

 

I’d done a lot of work?  I can’t tell you how happy my spirit was to hear that!  I had been bashing myself quite a bit, flagellating myself for not getting myself more together. (My eyes are flooding with tears as I type this.)  I was so embarrassed about how little paying work I’d been doing.   I hadn’t had a lot of work, and I hadn’t had the energy to go look for it.  Nor had I any idea what I really wanted to do.  Except, that is, those things that I love to do – all those things which were not yet bringing me much money.  (ie, writing, art, teaching.)   To receive the acknowledgment that I had indeed been “doing work” was a huge, huge gift for me.

 

I’m sure when she said “work,” she was referring to emotional/spiritual work.  This kind of work is very hard to do in the workaday world.  The soul requires time and space to do this kind of work. And this culture doesn’t really look kindly upon people taking time off for soul-searching. Not that I was consciously “taking time off.”  I was simply in a one-day-at-a-time mode. I just didn’t have the usual reserves of energy, nor the usual font of ideas and inspiration for anything more far-reaching than the next day or two.

 

The second thing that happened was a dear friend of mine said that I’d been a catalyst for a really big change and growth process in her life.  She said that I had had a major impact on her just by being me, just by being a loving presence.

 

This was also so affirming for me.  I had asked her, several months ago, for a favor.  I had offered some services in exchange for this favor.  What I discovered was, though these services were and are appreciated, it was apparently my presence which had been most valuable. What this told me was that Spirit was at work, whether I realized it or not.  There was grace happening in the midst of struggle and in the midst of this not-so-honored-by-society fallow time.

 

Once these two events of affirmation happened, I began to lighten up.  I began to trust that I was being of service in the world – even without trying so hard.  I began to realize that even such mundane things as making posts on Facebook and giving hugs at church were benefiting the world in a small way.  Maybe I didn’t have to do the “big” things – like midwife people into the afterlife with hospice work, or bring in a large paycheck.  Maybe it was okay to just “be me.”  Maybe I wasn’t such a slacker after all.

 

And with that realization, I can – right this minute, feel my heart opening.  I feel a greater connection to Spirit. I imagine the angels cheering as I realize I am okay the way I am; that I don’t have to be more, better.

 

I also notice that in the past month or two, my energy has been returning. I’m not talking about physical energy.  I’m talking about the energy to be more present to other people.  I’m talking about the energy to be more responsible for something larger than myself.   I’m talking about the energy to be of service in the world again.

 

Just as cancer generally takes quite a while to grow, perhaps our spirit takes a while to heal.  Perhaps it’s a process that can’t be rushed.  Like grieving or childbirth, it unfolds in its own time, and no amount of rushing will make it go faster.

 

Maybe I’m okay just the way I am.  Cancer or not.  Money or not.  Busy or not.  Maybe it’s all okay.  It’s all just a process – life is a process; healing is a process.  I am healing in process.  But I think… I think it just may be possible that this chapter in my life is coming to a close.

 

And if not, well that’s okay, too.  In ten months, no doubt I’ll have another realization or two.

 

Blessings to each of you.  Thank you for reading this.