Your Bright Shiny Life – Claim it.
It’s Sunday morning. Superbowl day. I have my laptop out by the pool, surrounded by birds of paradise. I just finished teaching a yoga class. I have a phone interview scheduled in a bit for a friends podcast. Why, oh why, am I living this very charmed life at this moment?
Because I chose it. Because Cancer, dark damned bitch that it is, chose me. But in that strange way that people who get the big C or other diseases that are not expected to end well, I am grateful.
I met a couple recently. I like them both enormously. I found out he was battling a pretty fierce brain tumor, so I told him that I was a stage four cancer person. We started talking, as people who find themselves in the same shark infested waters tend to do. He told me he didn’t regret being the one in his tribe that got sick, because he felt he was the strong one, the one that could take it.
I understood. I would much rather have it than, god forbid, any of my loved ones. I know I am strong enough to deal with the illness, and maybe even worse, the treatment. Truth be told, I don’t know if I am strong enough to stand a terminal illness in someone I love.
One thing Cancer has done has taught me to be is productively selfish.
When I became sick the first time, I did the Cancer trudge. I got the double mastectomy, I did the chemo, I taught yoga and spin bald as a baby after I got my strength back. I didn’t know then the big lie they tell all of us who get breast cancer. The doctors kept telling me not to worry, that no one dies from breast cancer. That wasn’t the lie.
The lie was that it comes back. I didn’t know then that one out of three of us survivors would recover, and then have the disease return and metastasize to another organ, becoming stage four. And everybody dies from that. There is no stage 5. There are remissions sometimes for a time, but that’s not the likely outcome.
It took me a little while to understand that this terrifying position I now found myself in gave me a freedom that a lot of us can have, but don’t feel that we are allowed to reach for. We, the stage four people, and others that don’t have to wonder how it’s all going to end for us, we get to be selfish.
I even decided that what I needed most for my health to even have half a chance was to leave New York and some of my family there, where I had moved just four years before, and return to Southern California so all of my children would be in the same part of the country, and within arm’s reach when I needed a hug and some fluffing up.
I needed to come back to an area where you can’t throw an organic avocado without hitting some delicious produce, some grassfed beef, and some beautiful wine from the north.
I had to put myself where I felt the most emotionally, spiritually, and physically fed and loved and held. Super selfish, right? Right. And guess what, even though it’s not my way to put myself first, I know in my deepest of deep DNA that it was the right thing for me to do.
You don’t have to get the big diagnosis to put yourself first. Or even to make your needs a priority. It’s allowed for you right now.
On my last breath, I won’t have many of the regrets that other people have, that I didn’t spend enough time with my family yada yada…. I still work too much, but that’s my reality right now. My one regret will be that I waited to get sick to start moving hell and high water to put things into place in such a way that serves my kids and I best.
Food for thought. Don’t wait for the diagnosis. Live your best sparkly life right now.
Artwork – Ganesha and I hanging – Gilda Hall