January 10th, 2022 is the day the tumor on my ovary was removed with a full hysterectomy. In a follow up visit I heard the words “stage IV” at which time I immediately shut down. I could not hear anything or take in any words. I started rocking back and forth repeating the mantra “this is all a human construct” over and over.
They said what my body did was rare and they could only find two other cases. To my understanding that would be – encapsulated colon cancer hopping over and growing on another organ. Before the surgery, I hadn’t even allowed myself to consider that I had ovarian cancer. Not for an intellectual reason but more from self preservation. I realized later the gravity of fear that surrounded me regarding my fate.
Reminding myself that much of our lives has been constructed by humans or a human somewhere at sometime in history or the present helps me keep perspective. Life is a big puzzle that we are all trying to figure out everyday. I think that we want things to be more stable or reliable than they actually are or can be. I have always been a person to question the norms or ask why. As a young person, I loved our church and I liked our pastoral team’s approach to religion but I remember being in Sunday service sitting next to my dad during a sermon engaging him in a persistent whisper on the logic of Genesis.
I remind myself regularly that medicine is an art as well as a science. It is biased, racist, sexist, limited, it has gaping holes in regards to holistic health and healing, wrapped up in a strange social hierarchy and culture that is not conducive for the health and well being of the masses – patient and practitioner alike. This is the landscape where many human constructs are formed. They are frequently helpful but always warrant deeper inquiry.
As I age, I am becoming more comfortable with the gray of life and the blurred edges. Values, ethics and critical thought hold more weight than rules and constructs. Yes, it is less plug and play as we zip through life and more slow down and check in with all the humanity wrapped into life and all its creations.
The stages of cancer were created to be a vessel to hold and categorize information. From the perspective of a human receiving those words in relation to their body, stage IV has turned into the perception of a highly possible death sentence. Well, I say f#$* that noise.
I have typed and deleted so many thoughts this morning on this subject. Some sound very out there and some were darn good but not ready to be flushed out.
I guess my thoughts this morning are about the stress and anxiety that we bear in the name of human constructs. There are things in life that warrant a stress response but much of life does not. I remind myself daily to take back my power of how the human constructs affect my day to day.
Much of life is learning how to cope with change and unpredictability. This has been a tool my entire life – to question and challenge the world around me. I was haphazard in my approach for much of my life but luckily found a professional vehicle in birth doula work that helped me refine my focus. Getting cancer allowed me to apply this refinement on a greater scale.
Life is swimming in human constructs. Be aware of what you are not questioning. Be mindful of what assumed reactions you are expressing. Ask if this is something that fits me and how I want to walk through my life.
I am not saying it is easy. Sometimes the emotional scared gremlin in my mind grabs the steering wheel of my life and takes an offroading jaunt through a swamp of despair but even those moments offer release if I see them for what they are. It is not that I am not ever scared or sad or feeling out of control at times but I don’t let them steal too much time. To do that I let the thoughts and emotions flow through me, remind myself that in this moment I am alive and I have options.
These are my thought for the morning. Two years after stage IV colon cancer I am alive and thriving. Today is a marker. A day I am so thankful for modern medicine and their ability to perform surgeries. I appreciate the two worlds I have been able to utilize to heal – western and eastern. I am thankful for all the beautiful supportive humans in my life.
I am a blessed and lucky human. 🙂