More and more, I will get well not out of the fear of dying but out of the joy of living.
More and More I can understand that I can heal myself and live or I can heal myself and die, my physical condition is not an indication of my wholeness. – Belleruth Naparstek
Lately, I have thought more about these affirmations from the Health Journey Guided Imagery to Fight Cancer. Today they express the same sentiment as when I got sober years ago. When active in my alcohol addiction, I knew I was dying a little bit more every day. When I finally checked into a detox unit, I did so not from a fear of dying, rather, I saw a glimmer of hope in being able to live. The past three decades proved a phenomenal witness to that hope.
I have come to the same understanding today with my cancer diagnosis. I discussed with Emma, my wife, that I do not fear death – in fact, if it gets to the point where I can no longer get out of bed to sit on the back porch, then I am no longer interested in treatments. And today, I seem a long way from that point. My back and neck are less painful than one year ago. I am finishing a round of stomach infection antibiotics that restored my appetite and relieved a good bit of stomach upset. An endoscopy procedure this past week recovered tissue that might prove useful in developing a genetic-based treatment for my cancer instead of the eventual chemotherapy.
So yes, life is good today.
I realize the goodness is the reason for some of my pushback from the seemingly endless array of medical tests. I was in a funk the couple days before the recent endoscopy procedure. When my blood was drawn a week ago, I had a visceral reaction of disgust at being poked at one more time. But I know the process is necessary.
I seem a bit of a schizophrenic these days. There is the medical end of things. And then there is riding my bike to the medical appointments; my Wednesday morning School for Contemplative Living group where we practice centering prayer and are now reading The Book of Joy; my Friday morning book discussion of It’s Never Too Late To Begin Again with a group of dear friends; spending time with Emma at our shop and home; serving the underserved at the Open Table; and much more, including sitting on the back porch with my dog writing this post as a steady rain pours on my winter crops in the back yard.
So yes, it is a joy in living that has sustained me through years of recovery from my alcohol addiction and today is my hope of a life with Stage 4 cancer.