I am never going to be one of those people who gets chemo.
You know, those people. The ones who are asleep, indoctrinated, ignorant. The ones who doubt their own healing capacity and can’t take responsibility for their illnesses. The ones who believe all of Google’s lies about “quacks” and alternative medicine.
No, if I get a serious diagnosis, I’m going to cure myself using all the resources in all the libraries of all the land.
I’m going to be better.
The truth is out there.
Sound familiar? Or how about this one:
If only I’d known then what I know now, I never would have chosen conventional treatment. I never would have gone to the doctor. I never would have taken those medications.
I’ve done permanent damage to myself and I deserve my pain as divine retribution for my ignorance and foolishness. Maybe if I'm lucky I can undo some of it by handing over responsibility for my health to one of these “real” healers.
I’m so ashamed.
Hey, why not both hubris and remorse?
This story starts in August, 2010. It looks like a spiral in time. I call it “The Girl Who Swallowed a Dragon’s Egg.” In the story I intended to write, there was no place for cancer. And there was certainly no place for chemotherapy. I took a lot of pride in my conscientious decisions about diet and lifestyle. My children were born at home in a rural Maine farmhouse. I baked my own bread and sometimes ground my own grain. So when a doctor I had never met before called to tell me that some bloodwork I had ordered on a whim had come back with concerning results, I smiled and thanked him and said I would do some research.
“You might have leukemia. You should go to the ER right away.”
I didn’t. Instead, I started shopping. I bought juicers and supplements and bulk foods. I got on forums and facebook and google.
People like me don’t get cancer. And if they do, they definitely don’t get chemotherapy.
But the week wore on and the reality that, I hadn’t slept in several months (the reason that I ordered the blood work in the first place), was feeling worse by the minute, and was not finding any answers, started to get, well, real. And when my husband asked me through his tears to promise that I wouldn’t die, and I wasn’t sure I could keep that promise if I kept doing what I was doing, I realized that I couldn’t solve this problem alone.
I left my two children, 4 years old and 8 months old, with a friend and drove to Mercy Hospital, and checked in.
Through the ER.
My children had never slept apart from me; my infant had never had a bottle. I had to sign a consent form acknowledging that the treatment could leave me infertile. I was 33.
It was the best decision I could have made, but I didn’t know that then. In the moment, all I knew was that I was dying, and I needed to hand my physical body over to someone else so that I could take care of my spirit.
When we get sick, it is tempting (and common), to panic. Whether we are allopathically-minded or naturally-minded about medicine, we can get frantic with our resources. We can go to the books, the apothecary, the internet, the doctor, the naturopath, the osteopath, the homeopath, the chiropractor, the shaman; we go crazy looking for, on the one hand, the magic bullet, and on the other, the kitchen sink.
Sometimes, we feel a little better at times, other times, a little worse. But deep down we know, we’re just trying to claw our way back to some prior status quo. We’re not headed toward cure.
It’s common to overlook a very deep truth in this moment: that compulsive behavior is part of the dis-ease. I mean, it’s not ease, right? Someone fix me! Make it go away! I want the old baseline back – who cares if it was full of dysfunction, at least it wasn’t this.
But if that got me into this mess, it sure as heck isn’t going to get me out.
The opposite of that is surrender. But you can’t surrender if you can’t trust. And trust is a choice.
We talk about trust as something that is earned, not given. But if you had to navigate life waiting for everyone, including God, Life, The Universe, and Everything, to earn your trust before you were willing to take a risk, what kind of life would you have? Many of us have been, or have known, people who could not trust, and so could not receive, and thus could not even, really, ask. Without trust, there is no relationship, and we are meant to be in a world of relation.
It is more accurate to say that we choose to trust, and so co-create the energy of trustworthiness; that is why we find betrayal so devastating (and so rare. We feel it so keenly that it can seem to dominate, but it is because it is the exception that we have so few defenses against it).
When you are committed to surrender, you are committed to trust, and when you are committed to trust, then you are committed to healing.
Okay, but, trust in what? Trust in whom? It is simple enough to say “surrender, trust,” but what does that mean?
Yourself, The Divine, and your guide. And when I say “guide,” I don’t mean the little bird that sings. That falls into the category of “self.” I mean something outside yourself.
If you want to get well, you’re going to have to get naked.
In front of someone.
Thus Ends Part 1 of 3.
(This post is based on some of my earlier writing that is asking to be revisited in this moment. It is a three part post.)