Based in Pittsburgh, PA, Cancer Experience Expressions is an online space for the sharing of cancer stories. 

This Time Around

      Winter months of 2014 were spent in Texas, receiving radiation treatment at the first-rate M.D. Anderson institution in Houston. I lived in a quant little house in the outskirts of the city. On his way home from my surgery, Dad met an extraordinary person, Brenda and her husband, Doug. When they learned of the reason for Dad’s trip, they told him they have a house with no one living in it. They opened it to us for all of my treatments and really seemed to enjoy having us there.  Loved ones came and stayed for a bit in rotation. I refined the doing of my thing: between the bass and acoustic guitar, exercise, nutrition, and golf; I had a rhythm. I took that time of simplicity to get a feel for what my flourishing looked like, thus promoting optimal immune system function.

A gradual singe. Heading home to PA with a choice to be made. Chemo? When? Summer? Shit.

Nutrition became a crucial element to a healing response after the chemo, surgery, radiation, and chemo (2).  Upon reading into the alternative, holistic cancer treatments, I learned how important it is to be mindful of the things I put in my body.  I still enjoy beer, but no without acknowledging the implicated damages.  Claudia tried convincing me of this years ago, but it took me a bit longer to really get it.  

Certain foods can nourish the body in ways that help rebuild and repair after destructive treatment.  This is where you get into your proteins and vitamins and all that good stuff. There are also foods and herbs that hinder a cancerous tumor’s progress. Sencha Green tea, broccoli, cabbage, dark berries and dark chocolate are some examples of this. More on this can be found in the multitude of cancer nutrition books. Dr. Michael Murray and Dr. David Servan-Schreiber are both excellent.

            And in the middle of all this the second Thiel Relay turned out to be as unbelieveable an experience as I could’ve imagined. The supporting cast that made up the Relay committee gave an exemplary effort all year. See, there is a process in organizing one of these events, and it takes steady commitment over a long period of time. Mind you, from November until about a month before the event, all Relay involvement was on them because I was in Texas for surgery and radiation, so all gathering of sponsors, advertisement, and many other tasks were covered by that amazing team at Thiel College.  Our fundraising efforts were absolutely phenomenal. There was a $14,000 goal set, and we reached that goal before the event even started. We ended up raising $21,000 for the American Cancer Society.  Maybe it helped a certain branch meet that certain quota that allows them to take on a certain project. It’s about making our humble contributions to the composite whole; it’s hard to be sure how far that ripple carries.

In the luminaria speech, I talked about human potential. The words of quantum physicist Dr. John Hagelin endorse this as I quoted from Rhonda Byrnes’ book--The Secret, “I see a future of unbounded potential, unbounded possibilities. Remember we’re using five percent of the potential of human minds. One hundred percent human potential is the result of proper education. So imagine a world where people are using their full mental and emotional potential. We could go anywhere. We could do anything. Achieve anything.”

John Mackey played the same key in his Commencement Speech at Bentley College:

The fact of the matter is that life is really very short and death is absolutely certain for all of us. It really is true that none of us are getting out of this life alive, and we should never forget this fundamental existential truth. Since death is real and inevitable for all of us, how then should we live our lives? We should commit ourselves to following our hearts & doing what we most love & what we want to do in life.

It is absolutely essential that you ask yourself what it is that you really care the most about. What are your passions? What are your deepest yearnings? If you could do absolutely anything in the world, what is it that you would do? Your heart knows the answer to these questions. It is whispering to you right now this very moment so listen to it & follow it…It will always be your best guide in life.

-There are two important aspects to following your heart.

·         First, we need to develop our self-awareness skills so that we can know when we are truly following our heart & when we’ve lost our way. It is actually easier that it sounds because when we are truly following our hearts we are tapped into our deepest passions in life. We are doing what we most love and we find our lives full of increased energy, greater creativity, purpose, joy, and happiness. We simply feel more alive & we are moving with the flow of life. How do you knowwhen you’ve stopped following your heart? When the opposite occurs: decreased energy, lack of creativity, no real sense of purpose & you aren’t particularly happy. You have stepped out of the flow of life and are just drifting along. When this happens the solution is simple: Choose again. Reconnect again with your heart. As long as you live, it is never too late. You are free in each moment to choose the path of your heart & it never stops whispering to you, urging you to follow it.

The second key to successfully follow your heart is that you will need learn how to deal with fear. It is fear which prevents most people from reaching their full potential in life--fear of failure, fear of rejection from people we care about, fear that we simply aren’t good enough, and sometimes fear of our own potential greatness. Unfortunately, no one else can overcome fear for us. Fear is something that you must learn to master on your own. Of course courage is the major strategy for learning to master fear for most people & we should certainly develop courage to the greatest extent we are able to. However, for me the insight that has personally helped me the most when dealing with fear has been to understand that fear is primarily a creation of the mind. I create it in my mind--it doesn’t really exist outside the mind. I can dissolve it there as well. So can you & and you will need to learn how to do this if you really want to be free in life & stay connected to your heart. 

These quotes are called on within the scope of healing to illustrate interesting facets of the mind/body relation.

 

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Chemo in college

Deep in the heart of Texas