I learned a new word recently. Liposarcoma (look it up, you should learn it as well). There is one growing in my thigh. At this point it is extremely large. What I have been thinking (for months) has been an expanded muscle…is certainly NOT. I am learning a lot of new things lately. I have learned what it feels like to be given a ‘diagnosis’ that is…unpleasant. That original rush of emotion, so many emotions tangled together, is utterly overwhelming. Disbelief, dismay, discontent=Dis-ease, as our culture calls it. One can certainly drown in this emotional sea of “Dis”.
When I heard the word, I immediately began crying…”What?!!!” I asked/exclaimed. A rush of thoughts came flowing through my body and mind as the kind Nurse Practitioner began to tell me what in the world a Liposarcoma actually is. While she spoke my mind rambled “Will this be the end of me?” “Are you kidding me?! Cancer?!” “How will this affect people around me?” and “oh Shit!”
I have been physically healthy all of my life, in the big picture of things. In the small moments of life, I have learned that my body lets me know when something needs to change and I am resisting, or that I am stressed beyond my apparent capacity. It seems that now something needs to change to reduce my body’s stress at this time in my life.
During the first week of learning about my medical “diagnosis”, I regularly woke up at 4am to speak with ‘my death’. Of course this is the big fear. Death. At first I was very frightened and unnerved as I lay in the dark. After a few nights I began to calm myself and simply listen. It began to tell me things I need to do. One night I was told “You have held many secrets, it is time to unburden yourself.” I was told some ways how to do this. It reminded me of a book I synchronistically read right before learning what was “wrong” with me called “The Hero Within”. This book was written by Deborah Grassman, a VA hospice nurse for 30 years, about people coming to terms with unresolved issues as they approach the end of their life. Suddenly I have been given a very strong reason to assess my past, my present and change my future, in ways yet undetermined.
I realize that I am being offered the opportunity to know what it feels like to deal with a physical ailment that has the capacity to end one’s life, and make the life that is available, miserable. My entire vocational experience as a shamanic practitioner has been focused on the wounds of the soul. Now, at age 46, I am being given a chance to experience the world of physical wounding, and to face my potential physical death. It may sound morbid, but it is not. None of us are getting out of here alive. Our death is said to be our best friend, not our enemy.
So many people right now are having transformational experiences as they deal with a ‘disease’ in their body. Now I am one of those people. I see it is time to gentle and mature myself, increase my capacity for compassion, and find new ways to bridge healing soul wounds and physical dis-ease. I am choosing to look at this as my next initiation. When I started my shamanic life (while in my late 20s) I had a dream that I had HIV and had 6 months to live. In the dream I knew that I didn’t really have HIV, but that I was supposed to think about my life in the context of “what is most important for a 6 month outlook” rather than “I will live forever”. Within 6 months after the dream, I drove away from my life in my hometown and was on the road to find the next chapter of my spiritual life. Almost 2 decades later, I have a more potent teacher ready to teach me. I have already decided that I am not going to back down from this challenge, yet I do not see this as a fight either.
Someone called me a Warrior recently, and I see a Warrior as one who faces her/his fear, and so in that way I accept that name, yet this “fight” is about me overcoming my own fear. I recently drummed and connected with my 15 year old self, a time when I experienced much fear. I helped her disrobe from her “fear suit” that covered her from head to toe (I had realized that this “fear suit” was still intact today, and was affecting my reaction to life). It was time for it to go away. When it was completely peeled off, a blue flame set it on fire. Then a phrase rang in my mind. “I transcend fear and transform it into self acceptance, calm and joy.” Whatever happens in the “future”, I commit to transcending fear in each moment, to the best of my ability. Whether or not I “live” through this experience, I choose to Transcend.
People keep asking how they can help. Over the last few weeks, I have realized some simple ways how you can help me-
1) Please do not ask me how I am (as in “How are you?”). That is such a loaded question. Tell me how good it is to see me, give me a hug instead, please. It feels better.
2) Please do not worry about me or be sad for me. As a sensitive person I can actually feel your worry and sadness, and it negatively affects my energy body. Trust that my destiny is unfolding and that I have already accepted this initiation, wherever it leads. Please send me love and the strength to be present with myself for my healing and balancing.
3) While we are health conscious people who like to take care of issues naturally, remember that knowledge is power. So, PLEASE, take note of changes in your own body. Do not ignore them, even if you feel daunted or hesitant about entering the health care system to get a physical check-up. Early detection helps so much!
4) Please do not talk or think about me as “having” cancer. “I” don’t have cancer. I am dancing with the cells in my body that want my attention. I think of them as “acting out” and my job is to understand all the “whys” so that I can work with my healthy body to balance the unbalanced.
5) Most importantly, please take care of yourself emotionally. “Sickness” is an emotional subject and affects people in many ways. I will not be offended if you need to take a break from my world.
I have dedicated my adult life to learning to understand my own shamanic practice, and to help others explore their worlds within. This exploration has expanded into something called The Institute for the Shamanic Arts and Earth Web Media. It has become bigger than me, and I feel very satisfied about this manifestation. I chose not to have children, and this is my ‘baby’, offered to me by Spirit. Strangely, the Nurse Practitioner who taught me the word “Liposarcoma” spoke of the size of my mass as a ‘baby’ (She said “It’s like you have a baby in there”). I have recently learned of the Greek myth of Dionysus, who was born from Zeus’ thigh. Dionysus was/is the God of wine, but more importantly to me, he is also the God of ecstasy, theater and ‘ritual madness’. I can’t deny the feeling that something wants to be birthed from me, a new version of me is waiting to manifest. When I think about that, I feel a sense of relief. I could use some ecstasy.
I will be writing and recording throughout my experience, because so many people are walking a similar path, and as I have learned by hosting shamanic circles for 14 years, “Our Shared Stories are Our Combined Power.” You are a part of the healing taking place. A huge thank you to my mother, who is with me during this unfolding, and all the other kind and beautiful people who have been tending me, sending me lovely notes, and helping in all ways they can!
Thank you for caring.
Blessings to all.
The photos above were taken as a ceremony to honor my body as it is the day before the surgery. While they might seem provocative, the red ochre on my face is a way to honor the Earth inside of me, the Roadrunner wing is to honor this recently acquired animal guide, and baring my big thigh is a way to say “goodbye” to all that has gathered there to be removed, from my body, and my essence.