I have been smacked in the face by the reality of my life. I have always been healthy. At 69, my blood work is perfect. I don't take any prescriptions. I eat well. I'm not overweight, and I am physically fit. I thought I was exempt from the diagnostic testing that, at my age, we are encouraged to get. There is something about a colonoscopy that just felt overly invasive. Moving past my discomfort and resigning myself to get tested would have prevented the surgery I am scheduled for to remove the colon cancer I have been diagnosed with.
Hard to feel fortunate with that diagnosis. But I did "luck out." The surgeon informed me that the tumor would be surgically removed. She mentioned that the operation would be done robotically, leaving only several small scars. I was also told there would be no need for chemo or radiation. She used the word "cured." Considering all possible outcomes, I feel greatly relieved.
I was invested in the saying we all have heard, "Ignorance is bliss." I found peace of mind in not knowing. A five-minute CT scan compelled me to come face to face with my mortality. For me, life does not get any more real. A diagnosis of cancer felt like a mortal blow to my entire being.
I am also left with a self-inflicted emotional scar of blaming myself for ignoring the obvious. I made a decision that ended up causing injury to myself by neglecting my health. The nagging question is, am I to blame for the cancer growing in my gut? It is impossible to know. I can only resolve this dilemma by exploring the depth of self-love and forgiveness and not allowing this self-judgment to define the totality of who I am.
Being human is sometimes an extremely messy experience, full of paradoxes and wonder. Things are sometimes very different from what they seem. We invest a lot of attention and effort in ideas that are not necessarily true or not in the best interest. We form opinions. Make plans. We project into the future. Our minds, like an attorney, help prove we are right.
That was undoubtedly true for me. Yet I convinced myself of something that was not only the opposite of the truth but put me at risk of something even more serious. What an amazing paradox!
Like most people, I have had some very challenging and painful experiences in my life. Those experiences, without exception, have all led to a deeper, more profound truth about myself, the gift of my life, and the gold of who I am. Those challenges helped to reveal the unhealed and unseen behaviors that eluded me. Behaviors that got in the way of living a more authentic, vulnerable life. Learning from this current challenge endures. As these behaviors continue to be revealed, I find my life more available to live in alignment with the most profound expression of the Divine—the mystery of life itself. The process of growing and deepening never ends. It is never complete. I continue to surrender to the unfolding of my life and allow that movement to inform me about how to bring forth my unique expression.
Shortly after receiving my diagnosis, a good friend invited me for dinner. I needed his company, compassion, and love. Feeling vulnerable, I needed the reassurance of human connection. He and his wife live on a lake. Seeing a bald eagle is rare but not unusual. As we were sitting on his deck that overlooks the lake, a mature eagle landed on a tree not more than 40 feet away. The eagle remained on the branch where it perched for over 45 minutes. That has never happened. I could feel the immensity of that gift. I could feel the mystery of life bestowing a moment of Grace that left me with a profound knowing that whatever the outcome, I am OK.
Amidst the chaos and uncertainty of life, I remain open to Grace and the gift of my life.
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