5 Gifts from Facing Mortality

One thing this new diagnosis has done for me is place mortality front and center in my windshield of life. I’ve always known intellectually about the impermanence of life, but now it seems visceral rather than intellectual. Facing mortality has been challenging, but has also bestowed many unexpected gifts.

1) Slowing Down

This latest prognosis has really forced me to slow down. I eat slower, sleep longer, work less, and try not to get too revved up. I even drive slower. Dr. Tom says that any cortisol in my system causes inflammation which increases pain and causes tumors to grow. Any time I let my emotions get the best of me, I am releasing cortisol in my system.

Lately, I have been really good about staying in a joyful emotional state, and the pain has decreased, my sleep is better, and my energy levels are way up. But yesterday, I let my sons get the best of me and flashed into a fit of anger that lasted for hours, and what do you know, I didn’t sleep well and have some mild pain today.

I recently hosted a webinar with Prakash Shellikeri who survived Stage 4 prostate cancer using holistic practices like pranayama and Mind Sound Resonance Technique (MSRT). Prakash said all yoga is about slowing down. Pranayama extends my breathing out to almost a minute per breath. Toning and sound healing force me to sit or lay down and feel into the resonant frequencies, tones, and pitches of different parts of my body.

I even chew my food more. Dr. Tom suggests that my meals should take almost an hour since I am chewing more and savoring the food. I also try not to eat while standing or watching TV or driving.

Life has been wonderful at this slower pace. On the practical side, even if my life span is shortened, if I slow down, I am living more and longer!

2) Freedom from Consumerism

After I learned about my prognosis, a bizarre thought arose in my mind: “I won’t ever have to buy another pair of jeans again.” The same goes for cars, houses, furniture, etc. It was a bit of a relief to tell the truth.

Fortunately or unfortunately, both my jeans ripped in the knees and I did have to buy more jeans, but it seemed like a privilege to purchase more clothes rather than an obligation or an addiction. Like most Americans, I have wanted more, bigger, and better material things throughout life. I used to dream of securing a house at Rincon Point in Santa Barbara, a new Tesla (a wish that continuously upgraded with each new Tesla model to be released), the newest iPhone every year, a bigger TV, etc.

Now, I’m happy just living life with what I already have, although I did purchase some protective equipment for skateboarding, but I consider that a type of medical insurance.

3) Communing with Others

In the past few months, my life has been full of deep, intimate relationships–and this is during shelter in place! I am reading a book called Angels in my Hair by Lorna Byrne. Lorna sees and has seen angels her whole life. She claims that angels are always by our side. This is what my life feels like right now. I not only have human angels who comfort, guide, and care for me, but also spiritual angels always by my side.

I have also had the pleasure of communing with loved ones and other cancer patients in a number of healing circles. These circles tend to go very deep very fast. No time for chit chat. We got straight to the jugular of existence. (bad pun)

I am blessed that I consider my three healers dear friends. Dr. Cynthia Li signs her emails to me, “Love, Cynthia.” I can’t tell you how many friends, relatives, and acquaintances I have said “I love you” to after a phone call or visit. I have never felt more loved and more loving in my entire life.

4) Awakening the Empath

I was listening to a talk by Judith Orloff who wrote The Empath’s Survival Guide. She said that “healing of trauma and awakening of the empath happen at the same time.”  This healing journey has not only been in the body, but also in spirit, emotions, and relationships. I am releasing traumas that I had no idea I was still storing in my physical, emotional, and spiritual body.

The more I heal, the more I sense into being an empath. Michael Lerner, my boss and dear friend, had to go to the hospital today for an aneurism. Cynthia Li, my intuitive doctor, is also Michael’s friend and doctor. When we heard that Michael had to go to the hospital, Cynthia intuited into the nature of the problem and concluded that the aneurism was stable and no emergency procedure was needed. Today, the tests confirmed that this diagnosis was right on target. I texted Cynthia how amazed I was that she could come up with this diagnosis without even seeing Michael. She texted back, “PS you can do this too!”

I feel like everyone has deep connections with their intuitive self, but trauma, society, cultural norms, and self-doubt obscure our natural ability. Healing my body, mind, and spirit has opened new doors of intuition, empathy, and love. What a gift!

5) Experiencing the Grace of Serendipity


The past few months have been like a real life version of the film Serendipity. But rather than finding my soul mate, I’m being led to my true life. So many mysterious “coincidences” have happened in the past few months. A friend who I haven’t spoken to in 5 years calls out of the blue and tells me he has prostate cancer. I share with him the qigong videos by Master Mingtong Gu. The next weekend he gifts me a ticket to an online summit with Master Mingtong which leads me to purchase a monthly master class on sound healing which includes live “Practice with the Master” zoom calls. In the first zoom call, I notice that Joe Vitale is in the audience. Joe wrote a book on ho‘oponopono called Zero Limits. This inspires me to restart my Hawaiian healing prayer which I do barefoot outside. The next day, another friend sends me The Earthing Movie which is about how walking barefoot everyday lowers inflammation and helps the body heal. The combination of qigong, sound healing, earthing, and breath work have decreased my pain level from 7 to 2 on a 10 point scale.

It seems like everywhere I turn something mysterious is brewing. I have a theory that the more serendipity I experience the more in flow I am with life’s rhythms. Since facing mortality I have definitely tuned into life’s flow on a deeper level.

These gifts have improved my quality of life in so many ways. I have no idea how long I have to live, but I do know that I am surrounded by angels, feeling love more than in the past, and surfing the waves of serendipity.  What more can I ask for?