I am delighted to report that we have even more good news to share. Last week we had our appointment with the Cleveland Clinic radiology oncologist. His opinion is that I do not need radiation treatments. He told us that my chances of recurrence are already very low – about 5% – and that the radiation would only reduce that number by 2-3%. Cliff and I felt that it would not be worth the side effects of radiation unless the recurrence reduction statistics were much stronger than that. But to have a Clinic doctor confirm that view is just fantastic. Once again, both doctors that we spoke to that day said that my case was very unusual. This has reinforced our belief that all the healing modalities that we applied really did work to bring about healing and we feel very blessed.
A very dear friend put it so beautifully. She said I was healed by the holy trinity of self care, care of friends and care of the Divine. I love that! Without a doubt, all three of those things helped me immensely. At the same time, I have lost friends who did everything in their power to become well, but could not. I feel grateful, and lucky and that life is a mystery. We can only work with our situations as best we can, and then let go. One of the teachings of Buddhism is that the web of causality is so complex that we cannot understand it until we attain enlightenment. Until then, we can only see a small piece of the fabric of cause and effect. This helps me to understand how someone with a healthy lifestyle can get sick, and how someone who smokes and drinks can live to be 100. There are so many factors that we cannot see.
For me, this means that we have to trust that all positive actions have positive effects, even if we can’t see them in the present or even in this lifetime. We then engage in meaningful activity – yoga practice, volunteer work, artistic pursuits, time in nature, cooking dinner for our family – with no attachment to outcome. We can’t do these things so that people will love us, or so we won’t get sick or so we can feel good about ourselves. We do the good, the true and the beautfiul thing for its own sake and leave the results to the Universe. As the Bhagavad Gita so beautifully puts it:
Chapter 2, Verses 47 – 48
You have a right to your actions,
But never to your actions’ fruits.
Act for the action’s sake.
And do not be attached to inaction.
Self-possessed, resolute, act
Without any thought of results,
Open to success or failure.
This equanimity is yoga.
I feel these verses have become even more meaningful as I now embark on life after cancer diagnosis and treatment. I want to live a long life, so I am committed to lifestyle and nutrition choices to support that. But I also know now, more than ever, that we are not in control. We should do the best we can in every circumstance, but we ultimately have to work with whatever comes up, without wasting energy on regret or guilt about what we might have done differently.
My yoga practice is slowly coming along, but it will be a long road. I miss vigorous physical activity so much! But patience now will pay off in the long run, so I am being very gentle and conservative in my asana practice.
Tomorrow we have our phone consultation with the nutritionist from the Block Center. She will tell me exactly what the labs showed about my blood work, and how we can adjust my diet and supplement regime to bring about optimal balance. I look forward to that talk and will let you know more about it next week.
Until then, please know that your support and prayers are still very meaningful. I become sad at times, grieving for what I have lost. I have not only lost body parts, but I have also lost the image of myself as a healthy person. I will have to rebuild that belief in my own vitality over time. I feel I have every tool I need to do that at my disposal – the holy trinity of taking care of myself, receiving the love of others, and being open to Divine Grace, which we can never touch or define, but remains, for me, so real.