Saturday, February 23, 2013

What A Week!

Note: The following chronicles the first week from not knowing to knowing of my cancer diagnosis. Don't worry - no gloom and doom, just surreal, somewhat sarcastic, and sobering reality..

February 11 8:34 pm
I remember when I first noticed it. I was getting a massage by my hunky masseuse Moongoo, and found myself unable to get comfortable while lying on my stomach. It was an actual pressure, but I disregarded and forgot about it. I mean this was Moongoo, no time to complain.  A month later I had an energetic massage by my spiritual and psychic masseuse Deva.  I had the same sensation, only this time it was much more pronounced. But not wanting to break any trances, I disregarded.  I was already scheduled for my annual exam in a couple weeks and to be honest, I hadn't really thought of it. I mean, let me be clear, I am the poster child for health. I have been dairy free for almost 15 years (or as my people say, lactose intolerant). I haven't had red meat in over 20 years, although I have had a recent newly found love affair with bacon (just when I thought I was unique). I meditate 30 minutes a day, EVERY DAY (but am somewhat manic about it and get anxious if I miss it - realizing this may defeat the point). I do yoga at least twice a week (watching the clock most of the time, but appreciate the sweat and corpse pose at the end). I do enjoy a drink a couple of nights for week and an occasional talk with Herb Green. But as all my woo woo awareness, teaching and insight has taught me, none of that matters if you are consciously blocked. 

I've spent a good portion of my spiritual development focusing on a higher understanding of woo - however we wish to define it. From mind body medicine to mantra based meditation, I trust that all of these experiences are tools we have in our arsenal to embracing a deeper conscious awareness in our everyday life. 

As I reflect back on the early days of my spiritual evolution which kicked off right about the time of my Bat Mitvah, I see that I was in a desperate state to logically understand things outside of my control. While one would think it was this incredible experience of becoming a woman in the Jewish faith, it admittedly was around that time that I remember seeing a lifetime movie which chronicled a young woman with breast cancer. In the movie, she met a doctor who taught her the power of visualization and how that aided in her healing. I learned that the movie was based on a true story and that doctor was Dr. Bernie Segal. And so at age 13, when most girls my age were doing god knows what to Judy Blume's Are you There God, It's Me Margaret, I was reading Love, Medicine, and Miracles by Bernie Segal. I remember it having a deep impact at the time, but like most girls of that age, that impact lasted about a week.  

Only to be revisited several years later, when my Aunt was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It was a shocking moment in my family's history. Really the first "bad thing" I can remember experiencing in my somewhat sheltered life growing up Jewish in Oklahoma.  But it was the first time I learned of the urge to try and do whatever I could to help heal - really having no sense what that meant.  And so I became obsessed with trying to make sense of it all.

My really first deep dive came several years later post college with the discovery of Lousie Hay and her book YOU CAN HEALYOUR LIFE.  In it she provides a comprehensive list of ailments, the emotional cause and then a healing mantras. That book became my bible in my early twenties. Whenever someone had an ailment I was the first to point out their emotional blockages. In time I learned, that most people want to stay oblivious to this connection so I backed off. Although there were a select few that became as obsessed as I, and before the Internet had completely taken hold, I was the woo woo go to gal. From headaches to hemorroids, I would get calls from friends and family members interested not so much for the emotional cause, but more for the healing mantra. I won't mention any names, but you can imagine that with hemorroids, desperate times call for desperate measures.  It was manic, but meaningful, like so many things in my life at the time. But it also made so much sense. 

My journey quickly escalated.  My days in San Francisco and working weekly with a psychic acupuncturist named Nubbie had forever impacted the way I would experience healing. And after 5 years in the Bay Area, I quickly became a stereotypical ex dotcommer who moved from the Bay Area to Texas and became a pilates teacher.

I connected with pilates in a very profoud way while I was still in San Francisco. It was my first experiential practice of mind body connection.  When I first started doing pilates, I was commuting two hours a day to Silicon Valley. At that same time, another aunt of mine who I was also very close with was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. It was yet again a tragic and illogical thing. We had just started the healing process of my Aunt Sandy who passed away 4 years prior. But when I did pilates, I recognized the release that was happening in my body.  Through Nubbie, I became aware of chakras, the energy centers in our body and the meaning of those chakras. I understood the connection between the deep core work of pilates and the second and third chakra personal empowerment, security, stability, flexibility.  And so when the dotcom bust occurred right around the time my Aunt Tricia passed, I fled the city hoping to escape the overwhelming grief that seemed impossible to face. 

I became certified in Pilates and opened a studio in Austin, Texas.  As a pilates teacher, I learned my love of teaching and healing. While our studio was targeted to stereotypical housewives in a Texas suburb, I connected with the women who I would have previously so easily judged and saw the gift of connecting to people as humans and that we all have struggles of self love and empowerment.

After 5 years with the studio,  my woo woo journey took pause. I focused less on the physical, and more on just living my life. Any healer or teacher will tell you, that it is easy to loose yourself. And in a way, I did just that. During this time however, I witnessed the passing of both my grandparents from cancer, one of my best friends who so inspiringly traveled the heroic journey of cancer survival, and the most recent passing of my uncle whose struggle was far to fast that I still am unsure I have comprehended.

So here we are, having seen the impossible struggles of cancer in so many ways, I now am faced in a completely unknown territory.  I have a lump.  I couldn't get in to get a mammogram for a week. And so I wait.  Like so many woman who I know experience this exact thing (I know this because I have googled and read far to many community boards).  And yet with all the things in my spiritual toolkit, I realize, there is nothing I can do, but love, have faith, and try and enjoy every moment.  I find myself giving this advice alot, and perhaps that is the lesson for this moment. Say it as much as you want, until you FEEL it for yourself, none of the practices in the world mean a goddamn thing.  

I recently finished a reiki session with a dear friend.  I asked her if she got any messages during our session.  I kept trying to talk to the lump and was getting nada, and she said it didn't feel tragic, but she was still confused. And then I said, it feels kinda funny. And with that we both started laughing.  So for now, that is what this is. A funny lump - that's all..

February 14, 8:32 pm
I have cancer. I knew it was something. I'm sure everyone has that surreal moment upon the learning of diagnosis. And I trust there are stages of these moments that are yet to come. But ironically, what I was more impacted today was as I was in the waiting room between my mamogram and ultrasound, is that a.) General Hospital is on the air and b.) it's like all the fucking same people from when I watched in high school. How do NONE of them age.  A manic next thought went immediately to my cousins wedding in March and this unbelievable Jason Wu dress I got (at a crazy discount:-).  Would I get to wear it? Would I have both boobs? Would I have my hair? And then it was the prick of the litacain that brought me swooping back into the moment and the reality. I have cancer.  Gotta throw out my soy milk. Let the journey begin. 

February 16, 8:08am 
Note: Letter to my sister and dear friend/healer Janie

Hello Healing Mamas.  Thanks for coming over last night.  So grateful for you both.

I started playing around with some visualization techniques last night thanks to both of your recommendation of something I can do now. I realized that it may be possible that I can actually aim to see if we can shrink the mass at all in the coming weeks leading to whatever surgery I decide on. So if you feel inspired in your healing and personal reiki sessions to send over some shrinkage energy, I think a goal of having it go down from 4.5-2.5 is what I am aiming for. Have no idea if realistic, but figure it can't hurt.  

Also, tried to go in and have a "talk" with the cancer and it was pretty funny. Basically it was like I was talking to a cancer foreman - he was kinda cartoon like, but dressed like a construction worker.  I asked why was he here, and he just looked at me realizing I knew exactly why he was here (I know because I had just read about it in Louise Hay - see below). Anyways, he didn't say anything to me, just smiled, but then he whistled and called off about half of his workers saying, let's go guys, this isn't as big of a job as we thought. He said he was leaving just a small maintenance crew and tipped his hat and wished me best of luck:-)

Thought you would both appreciate. Here is to embracing shrinkage...

ps. Louise Hay Meaning of Breast Mass in Left
Breast Emotional Issue: A refusal to nourish the self. Putting everyone else first. Overmothering. Over protection. Overbearing attitudes
Breast Healing Mantra: I am important, I count. I now care for and nourish myself with love and with joy. I allow others the freedom to be who they are. We are all safe and free. 

February 17 – 8:46 am
Note: Email to the family after reality has become to take hold

Hello family. Hope everyone is doing well. Really appreciate the love and support over the last few days. It still seems surreal and I know the next couple of weeks will likely be the most overwhelming with the influx of data that will be coming in. Knowing this, I have set up my alternative healing plan at a high level and articulated some initial guidelines I liked to share with everyone.

I get that this is my way of coping for now, and assure you I have had my breakdown moments and am not naive to what lies ahead, but I also think that this is a crazy ironic gift and I must be open to receiving whatever lessons I can, and I believe the plan below will help me and all of us to do this. Welcome to Team Woo!

Team Woo Alternative Plan (for Paige, but welcome to partake):
Everyday Regime
·       Mediation - 30 minutes at least 1, but ideally twice a day
·       Visualization -once a day on the actual mass focussing on shrinking mass
·       Energy Work - once a week/every two weeks
·       Talk Therapy - once a week (1:1, group, etc - all TBD)
·       Flowers - fresh flowers weekly
·       Accessories - stone, oils, house clearing, edible, etc (all TBD based on need)
Complementary Regime (to discuss with Dr. pending treatment plan)
·       Hypnotherapy
·       Nutrition
·       Reflexology
·       Acupuncture

Team Woo Guidelines: (recommended only, at the end of the day your journey)
1. This is a love journey - While shitty it is happening, I prefer to stay away from terms about fight, battle, or referring to treatments as poison. It is all healing energy and this is a love journey that the universe has invited each of us on. Not to say we can't have some attitude - afterall, this cancer chose the wrong fucking body..My goal is to be as present as possible with each step and try not to get to far ahead of myself. 

2. Reach out for Support - As we all know it is often the caretakers that this is hardest on. I hope everyone has embraced this is now as much a part of your journey as it is mine - I am just driving the bus. I need to know that everyone is taking care of themselves, but realize I need to let go and leave that up to each of you. Whatever feelings of fear, confusion, anger, resentment are coming up, please seek support - ideally outside the family. I will be planning on attending any support groups as well as a combination of traditional therapists. I'm not saying you should see a therapist, but I am sure there are support groups for families of cancer patients and encourage you to explore that (you get to be anonymous). Or at a minimum reach out to friends.

3.  Game Day Rituals - It is important to me that on the day of any meetings, treatments, or surgeries that everyone be as grounded as possible. For you it can be just taking a few deep breaths. I will be personally visualizing these experiences and sending light to the Doctors, Nurses, the Office staff etc. At whatever level this resonates, I want to invite them to be part of the love journey (whether they feel this or not). Also, it is important that everyone feel the best they can on these days. That can mean dressing super comfy, or it could mean dressing in full on glamour. Whatever the case, please treat yourself with total self love, empowerment, and compassion.  I will also be carrying pods at all times for those moments when I feel compelled to practice spontaneous gifting, and you should do the same:-)

4. One Day At A Time - I am not naive that this will be a long journey. But I want to be sure and celebrate the milestone of each step once we have an understanding of those steps. I am not sure what that looks like, but I believe this will be helpful in staying present to the process of healing. 

I love you all so much and am sure more guidelines will be added, but this is what immediately has come to mind. 

Love you all~ Paige