Waiting sucks. Waiting for a friend who is late is annoying. Waiting to hear if your life is being threatened by cancer is indescribably horrible.
I can pretty it up and talk all spiritual, but it is really hard to wait to see if you have cancer.
When I was waiting for the results of the cervical cancer surgery, I felt very confident that the cancer would be contained and removed completely. When I got the news that the cancer is gone, I burst into tears. My conscious mind was sure, some other part of me was not at all sure.
Now I am waiting to have surgery on my breast. I will have to wait 10 days after that surgery to find out if I have cancer. Again.
What I keep coming back to is the fact that there is nothing I can do until I have an answer. No matter how favorable my odds are (and my odds are, mercifully, very good odds) I won’t know until I know.
When I get the results there are about 20 impending things that require me to take action. But I can literally not make a decision, or take an action, until I know if I have cancer.
So, I mindfully witness my thoughts and interrupt scary stories. I do a quick body scan and release tension. I cry when I need to cry. I feel anger when that arises. I talk to friends and family. I talk to the oncology social worker. I practice playing bass.
I meditate. I sit still, I focus on my breath, and I let everything shake through me. When I am not entranced by the scary stories, I can just drop into that stillness, moment to moment. Just a smidgen of that changes everything.
When I meditate I am not waiting. I am sitting.
Yup. That happened. Cervical cancer. Then I had surgery and they told me they got it all. I am 7 weeks post-op today.
After that, I had to see a second surgeon for a “spot” on my breast. Now I’m waiting for the second surgery.
My odds are very favorable, but I have to wait until after the surgery to be absolutely sure.
My life now will always include cancer. I will have to be tested regularly. I am both a cervical cancer survivor, and am also now considered at high risk for breast cancer.
It’s hard to describe how jarring this has been to my state of mind. I have experienced what can best be described as repeated adrenaline rushes, along with tension in my body. My thoughts have ranged from: “This isn’t really happening.” “This isn’t such a big deal.” (Both denial.) To: “Cancer. This is happening. It’s happening to me.” (Not denial.)
It is hard. It is really hard. But, it could be worse. I know I have the choice of how to use my mind, my thoughts, and my attention.
I’m very, very grateful that I was a meditator long before all this happened. I have been able to sit back and witness the shifts between various states of mind, various emotions, then draw my awareness to my breath, and release the tension.
The truth is, in this moment I am just here. I’m with myself in every moment, and I am good company. In this very moment, I can go inside, and let go of whatever emotion is running through me.
It is simple. It is not simplistic. It is not easy. I am going to write more posts on this process. About 40% of people in the U.S. have cancer. We are not alone. We can talk about it.
If you want to learn to meditate, go to my welcome page to download my free meditation. janbidwell.com
There was heartrending news from South Carolina yesterday. Another hate crime, with a large death toll, but this time carried out inside a church.
Violence is not new to the African American community. Violence within an African American church is not new. What is stunning and new is that a woman was left alive to repeat the message of hate.
People are outraged, but people are heartbroken even more. It may seem overwhelmingly difficult to fight back against this hateful message, but we can work to make a seismic shift.
We can make new pathways from those broken places. If we can stay connected to our own hearts, our own pain, our action will be measured and effective. We can have a greater impact than any anger can have, if we hold hands and stand together, mindful of our pain and anger, but acting from love.
We need to see clearly that this young shooter’s hate grew from a culture of hate. Responding with hate only strengthens hate. Compassion and love are not weak responses. It takes almost superhuman strength to respond to this level of hate with compassion. Almost superhuman. Almost. Each of us has the capacity to shift our awareness to our hearts. Each of us has the strength to feel the heartbreak and still love one another.
It is past time to simply step away from hate and step into our compassion. It’s our choice to make.