I was unable to attend the fundraiser held on my behalf this past weekend. This is a little note that I wrote for those people who attended that day. Thank you to all of those who supported and practiced. I feel your love and intentions and I am so grateful! I have volumes to write, so stay posted….I am learning about life, myself, the process and the practice more than ever before and I intend to translate my experiences into meaningful insights and soul discoveries as well as everyday applications of mindfulness and of course all peppered with humor. Stay tuned….for now a letter to you….
Since as long as I can remember I have had an inherent desire to help and heal people, animals, the environment, the world. When I was little I believed I had imaginary powers at the tips of my fingers and when I waved my hands with precise intention a ray of healing would be bestowed on those who needed it. I would imagine cures to cancer, disease and addiction. I would imagine solutions to poverty, injustice, environmentalism and world peace. I would wave my hands relentlessly believing in my deepest hart that something within me could harness the miracle of change. Sometimes magic happened, but most times my requests were left in an absence for wisdom to be cultivated, and instead life reveled herself to be raw, complicated, unpredictable and full of beautiful vulnerability.
A few weeks ago I went to the dermatologist to have some sunspots checked. I went with vanity and prevention in mind, and a week later I was given a stage 3-Melanoma diagnosis. Since then I have undergone three standard surgical procedures for removing the level 4 tumor on my upper right back and all of the corresponding lymph nodes under the right arm. I now have a fashionable drainage bag attached to my armpit (to help with lymphedema), which is proving to be quite entertaining and slightly disgusting for my boys. They are at that age where disgusting is entertaining. Their innocence helps me get through this with humor, which is a vital component to medicine. My youngest said to me, “Mamma you look like a stitched bear.” The oldest wonders if I am really Radioactive Mom, with hidden super powers from all the invasive nuclear-gel tests. We are still debating the design of my cape.
It has been a wild and scary ride through the hungry channels of this cancer, and the waters that my boys and I will be navigating in the years to come are equally as unclear. All of us face uncertainty in our lives, this just seems to be a tender reminder. I am typically a healthy person, so I have had to draw upon a strong sense of adventure as I spend most of my time reviewing the chilling details of this sneaky and aggressive disease with oncologists and surgeons, in clinics, sci-fi testing facilities, inside x-ray tubes and the under the thumb of a system of waiting and uncertainty. These jarring circumstances have sensitized me to the reality of impermanence and though I am beyond relieved that the CAT and PET scans have come back clear, (HELL YES) there is a life-long caution of rouge cancer agents waiting to attack. I am preparing myself and my family for adjunctive treatment for the next year, or longer. The treatments are intense and demanding and I pray for the courage and strength to sustain a quality of living for myself, but most importantly for my children. They need me, and I need them, simply put.
I have a desk decorated with a lavish display of medical bills. My profession is one that positions me in a state of self-employment and I am one of ‘those’ people who fall into the margin without health insurance. I don’t make enough to pay for quality care, and I make too much to be covered by the state. There is nothing as scary as being told, “you have to have this tumor removed immediately”, then going to schedule the surgery only to be told, “you have to pay in full before we will schedule your procedure.” In my humble world, ‘in full’ translated to a fortune. I am trying to pull myself up from the fierce undercurrent of my costs thus fare and wipe the salt from my eyes as I look at the swell of treatment costs coming my way.
You are here today by the grace of a warrior community who have joined together on my behalf. These amazing warriors have created a Fundraiser and a medical fund to help cover the costs of my treatments and back bills. They have shared an unshakable demonstration of selfless service, loyalty, dedication and love. I am in awe and breathing this tender life in! The words ‘thank you’ do not convey the degree of gratitude in my heart. I feel blessed to have such a community supporting me through this challenging time and it is my intention to ‘pay it forward’ to those, who like me, are facing Melanoma with lack of resources. It is also my intention to become an advocate for Melanoma. I had no idea of its severity and I think it is a greatly misperceived cancer, and in this state in particular, people MUST be educated.
I think back to the ambitious little girl who I once was that desperately wanted to cure disease and suffering in the world with a simple wave of my magical, little hands. I wish as an adult I could have manifested this vision, but even though my fingers don’t radiate like the golden embers from an alchemist’s fire, I have developed a trust in another kind of gift, the gift of finding hope no matter what circumstances in life unfold…. I will always find a place of hope.
Your presence here today is confirmation of such hope. Look around you, see the faces, feel the energy, know your community. I believe that you are not just here for me, but that you are here because there is a bigger part of you, perhaps another child with magical hands, that also wants to help heal and change the world. We are all in this together, and we know the lines that separate us are part of the illusion. This day isn’t about being sad, it is about finding faith, remembrance and hope for ALL things. I am a teacher, and every challenge in my life has provided me with engaging material to present form the heart of spirit, this time and these circumstances should be no different. With each of life’s challenges there is a new space to grow into and I am honored to share that space with each one of you. Thank, thank you, thank you, for your time, support and love. I am there, I assure you, in all ways.
From my magic hands to yours!
Aho, and Namaste,