So the cancer is back. Two small tumors in the same area as the last time, but since I had surgery, the organs are no longer there. This means that the tumors are in my peritoneal lining which makes surgically removing them very difficult. Technically, I have metastatic colorectal cancer which is incurable…according to conventional medicine.
But as you all know, I’m anything but conventional. Like a gift from God, a few months before I was diagnosed, I was hired by a non-profit called Commonweal to work on their Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies website. My boss is Michael Lerner has been working with cancer patients for over 30 years. He is the author of Choices in Healing, a book I read the first time I had cancer. Every week I have a Zoom call with Michael, an oncology nurse, a medical researcher, and a grant maker whose father died of cancer. This is for work, mind you.
So when I told my colleagues I had a recurrence of cancer, they knew exactly how to react–with compassion, wisdom, and generous listening. For example, when I learned that the median life span for peritoneal cancer is 6-12 months, I sent Laura, the oncology nurse, an email asking her if these were the odds I was facing. She sent me a simple email:
I suggest you read this article by Stephen J. Gould called “The Median isn‘t the Message” and see if you don’t see some similarities between you and Gould that might guide you toward the right-hand side of the bell curve—-the side where 50% of people outlive the prognosis compared to those who sit right in the middle or to the left of the bell curve.
This shifted my mood, my perspective, and my capacity for hope. I have already passed the 6 month mark, so I guess things weren’t as dire as they sounded at diagnosis.
This new bout with cancer has deepened my understanding of healing, life, and grace. I have already been gifted so much by so many. I thought I had used up all my free passes the first time I had cancer, but it seems that my friends, my family, and the Universe just keep giving with no expectation of returns.
I hope these blog entries can be of service to anyone else who is facing a life-threatening illness. I also would like to use this space to offer gratitude to all who are walking this path on the edge of darkness with me. I love you all. Thank you for your care, support, wisdom, and love.