This past Sunday, Marissa Sue Teauseau, our Associate Pastor at Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church preached a message that profoundly affected my understanding of healing as a recovering alcoholic with a cancer diagnosis. She spoke of her experience ministering to a terminally ill young man and family and his healing. Marissa then linked that healing to the scripture reading for the day in Mark’s Gospel when Jesus healed Andrew’s mother-in-law, she got up and served him. (I note that our Senior Pastor, Jay Hogewood, asked me to be the lector for the reading that day at church, the significance of which just dawned on me.)
Marissa’s message kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire sermon as she deftly wove a web of healing and service. As I walked home from church and over the next few days, the seeds her words planted grew to give me a more complete understanding of healing over my last 30 years.
I never viewed my recovery as an alcoholic as a healing, but I see now that is very much the case. Marissa also spoke of her limited experience with the “miraculous” end of healing. That statement resonated with me too. I have long asked the question “Why Me?” in my remaining sober for over 30 years when relapse is a common experience for addicts. In recovery, I live into the Twelfth Step service mandate to “carry the message to others” about the gift of sobriety. Being of service is important to my existence.
Since my initial diagnosis this past August, I tried to define my existence with cancer. I am not a cancer victim, as I refuse to be a victim of anything. I am not certain a cancer survivor is an accurate term as my oncologist has never backed off from saying my stage 4 cancer is incurable.
I listen to taped affirmations around cancer on a pretty regular basis. My favorite time is when walking to and from church on Sunday morning. When I first began listening to the affirmations, I tended to gloss over the ones that spoke of white cells and medications attacking and destroying the cancer cells as I am not on chemo drugs or radiation therapy. However, all tests show that the cancer is not expanding. I am in less pain today than two years ago and more physically active than one year ago. More importantly, I am mentally, spiritually, and emotionally more alive than in many years.
Marissa’s sermon from this past week showed me how my cancer diagnosis is the opportunity to focus on healing and being of service. There is much to do in our world today, and I am pleased that my understanding of healing allows me to take part.
And here is where Marissa’s words touched me with my current cancer diagnosis. I have cited before affirmations from the Health Journey Guided Imagery by Bellruth Naparstek. Since Marissa’s sermon, an affirmation that has taken on new meaning, with some qualification on the self-reliance implication is:
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.
In a couple of hours, I will have another CAT Scan to see the physical status of my cancer. Tomorrow is Mardi Gras. Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, and the date for the next appointment with my oncologist. I am pleased to know now that my healing today is not dependent on the CAT Scan results.