ago, on July 26th, I went for my annual mammogram. It was
to be taken at a new imaging facility. I "forgot" to have
my previous films sent on ahead of me. Had I remembered I might not
be writing this exploration.
radiologist at the new place had no point of comparison and noted
a nodule that he called suspicious. Thirteen years ago an oncologist
had determined it to be innocuous, but the radiologist had no way
of knowing that without the prior films. I knew that the nodule had
not changed during the dozen years since its discovery.
radiologist ordered an immediate ultrasound. This test confirmed his
evaluation that a biopsy was required to rule out malignancy.
now the stage of my life drama was cluttered with an array of characters
costumed as fear, hope, distress, anxiety, dismissal, etc. They didnít
really interact with each other as much as they upstaged each other
and demanded the spotlight.
was among the most powerful. My mind immediately wrote worst case
scenarios. Oddly, although death from the big "C" was an
odious thought, what bothered me most in my mindís leaping ahead to
disastrous thoughts was the possible need for conventional cancer
therapy. I created stomach upset and diarrhea at the thought of ruining
my strong healthy body with chemotherapy and radiation. I have often
thought that the medical profession should talk about remission of
the malignancy as the possible side effect of chemotherapy
and radiation. It seems to me that their primary function is to cause
illness in the remainder of the healthy vehicle through the introduction
eased my fears by reminding myself that I could handle anything, that
I was a whole and conscious being, and that I really had no fear of
death because I knew death to be little more than change/transformation,
as well as a step in a great continuum. It was at that point that
a very small, childlike voice, inside said, "I know you know
all that and it is helpful, but not when the possibility of death
might be real!" I had to smile. It was OK with my psyche to believe
in higher truths, as long as they remained philosophical! Once they
entered the realm of possible reality, they took on a different flavor.
was the next lead character. I heard myself saying, "I do not
want my life to be about dealing with cancer, struggling with debilitating
Ďcures,í and fighting to stay alive." I want/wanted my life to
continue to be about what I was doing creatively and how I was growing
and facilitating growth in others.
I was given the diagnosis of heart disease at the age of 29, my life
became about weighing 92 pounds, having no strength or energy for
the simplest tasks (such as combing my hair), being unable to eat,
and needing six months to recover. I didnít want to do that again
in this lifetime.
was strong because when the nodule had first been discovered 13 years
ago, it showed up at that time on the first mammogram I had
ever taken. It had been easy to figure that it had always been there.
Now, I was sure that what was showing up on the ultrasound fell into
the same category because I had never had an ultrasound before.
the radiologist did receive the comparison films he said that
the nodule looked benign and was in fact involuting (reducing in size).
However, he said that what he was seeing in the ultrasound did not
correspond to the location of the nodule and he still recommended
a biopsy. My GP told me to make an appointment with a surgeon.
Had I remembered
to have the comparison mammograms sent on ahead, I would not have needed
the ultrasound and could have avoided the current distress. On the other
hand, if there is an abnormality and my Ďmistakeí grants me early diagnosis,
my Ďforgettingí might be a gift to me.
The drama being
played out on my life stage became wearying. I needed a way to deal
with the negative doomsday thoughts that sought to overtake me. I
needed to live in the now moment and remove myself from projections
into a disconsolate future. It was then that I made an important discovery.
I created a mantra that not only returned me to the present and reminded
me that that is all there is, but also lifted me into finer frequencies
of consciousness. The mantra is Blessed is this moment.
Every time a negative
thought enters my head, I say Blessed is this moment. I am
immediately lifted out of the dense darkness and into light. I watch
as the unwanted thought-pattern quickly crumbles and falls away. I
feel a smile grace my face. I feel myself breathing and relaxing.
The most amazing thing is that I cannot say the word blessed
and remain in the denser frequency at the same time. I say the word
and I move into the spirit, into clarity, into the music of the spheres.
how Gandhi and others committed themselves to having the name of God
on their lips at all times. In this way, when they faced death their
transitions would occur in the light of consciousness. My mantra,
Blessed is this moment, serves in this same way, whether I
am struck by illness, a car, or death by old age. The mantra allows
me to live (and eventually to die) in the frequency I choose.
My appointment with
the surgeon is two hours from now. I would be very surprised (and
delighted) if he determines that no biopsy is needed. However, my
view of surgeons is that it would be an oxymoron for them to dismiss
surgery in any circumstance. I am experiencing what I would term a
normal feeling of concern about the appointment, but nothing excessive.
I was aware as I
went to sleep last night that the desire/thought, "I donít want
my life to be about dealing with a malignancy," returned with
great force. I stopped myself to inquire, "What do you want your
life to be about?" The response provoked another important insight/awakening.
If I replied, "I want my life to be about creative expression, or
working with people, or being of service," each of those is related
to doing. Suddenly I saw that what my life is really about
is functioning consciously. That is a greater purpose than
any expression of doing. I saw that if, as, and when my life is about
functioning consciously, what I am doing or focusing on is irrelevant.
I can be functioning consciously in relation to everything that is
transpiring in my life. This was very liberating. It put things in
proper perspective. It enabled me to be even more present to the blessing
of each moment.
I saw the surgeon. Based on the radiologistís recommendations, I was
told that "just to be sure," I am to have a needle biopsy. It has
been scheduled for the 26th of August, giving me almost
two weeks to practice functioning consciously, to stay out of negative
projections, and to still my mind when it marches toward worry.
days that have gone by have had a strange feel to them. A large part
of myself has resided in suspended animation. I wonder what the results
will be (the verdict, the judgment) and I wonder how I shall respond,
no matter what they are. Itís as if the future is being swung over
my head or as if the roulette ball is spinning round the wheel in
quest of a place to land.
When I say I wonder
how Iíll respond, I have a sense of calling up little energy, either
for elation if the news is good or for struggle if that is what is
required. This diminished energy results from two elements: the not
knowing, and the nature of life in which at any moment something can
enter and change everything. I sense how fragile we are, how much
we are at the mercy of everything that is beyond our control, and
everything is. I see now that I have become much more of a
realist than the optimist I used to be. At least, that is true today,
a day when I simply must wait. I must wait for a test and a determination.
I went for the biopsy this
morning. Mariamne accompanied me as a loving support and was allowed
in for the procedure. The radiologist who performed the biopsy while
using ultrasound to guide the needle was a young woman who was caring,
informative, gentle, very present, and blessed with a good sense of
humor. The same was true of the female technician who assisted the
doctor. So much was this true that tears fell from my eyes mid-procedure
as I responded to the question "How are you feeling?" I
told them both that what I was feeling primarily was gratitude for
their tenderness and careful attention to everything that was going
on with me.
Surprisingly, there was
very little pain associated with the biopsy. Several samples were
taken after the doctor determined that the suspicious area was not
a cyst and I felt little or nothing during the various stages of needle
probing. At one point I commented that the thought of a needle penetrating
this area which had been undisturbed for 60 years, was distressing.
In actuality, it was only the thought that was disquieting, not the
penetration. I see now how important it is to keep alive in my consciousness
at all times the knowledge that everything is energy. To think of
the breast tissue as part of "me" and the needle as a metal
invader is separating and objectifying. To know that the breast is
energy and the needle is energy is more a process of energy merging
The tissue is now on its
way to the lab for scrutiny and testing. I probably wonít have the
results until Monday. During this interim time, I will continue to
practice what I practiced for the last month, stilling my mind, functioning
consciously, and remembering that each moment is blessed.
When the first radiologist
looked at the first ultrasound and ordered the biopsy, he referred
to the suspicious tissue as "ugly." I asked him why he called
it that because it seemed an inappropriate term to me. He replied
that it might be the enemy. I have reflected on this often and it
never sits right with me. I find it hard to think of disease as an
enemy. The very term conjures the need for battle. I resist fighting.
I would, in all circumstances, rather focus on restoring harmony if
that is what is required. Iím more and more particular about how I
express my life energy.
I noted that while I was
in the waiting room this morning I had three occasions to relate to
other women who were there alone for the same procedure. The three
were very nervous and concerned. In each case I was immediately moved
to comfort, guide, and reassure them, and to remind them to breathe.
I smiled to myself as I realized that I was a facilitator and loving
support system even in this circumstance when I would have been perfectly
justified to direct my attention only to my own needs.
I am now into
the 6th day of waiting for the results of the biopsy. My
experience of the medical profession is that the old phrase "hurry
up and wait" applies. The doctors say "Get this test quickly."
then there is a long wait for an appointment and an even longer wait
for the results.
Beneath the conscious
quieting of the mind, I sense the subliminal concern about what the
results might be. My blood pressure has been higher during this time.
My greater sense is that the results will be benign but my mind still
seeks to flood me with unwanted story lines. I also know that I am
a simple human being and as such the results can go either way because
none of us is immune to anything. What can happen to anyone of us
can happen to every one of us. Moreover, whatever is happening to
any one of us is happening to all of us because we are as one
A poignant moment
occurred on Sunday. During our Teleos Board of Directors meeting we
were discussing health care, and Tom McCarthy, our vice president,
said, "Whatís important is that test results are positive."
I agreed, but I hesitated before I said a loud, "Yes." Everyone
in the room felt the glitch. After a very few moments, I took a breath
and shared with those present what was transpiring with me. Except
for Mariamne, I hadnít told anyone until that time. I couldnít keep
it from the loved ones present, especially since they experienced
my hesitation. I let my tears flow, and they did too, and the love
that traversed the circle was palpable.
Although the surgeon who
referred me for biopsy received the results two days ago, it wasnít
until today that I was officially notified that the biopsy was benign.
My gratitude is immeasurable.
Everything appears new to me: the beautiful blue sky, the sun-lit
clouds, the deep green of the bougainvillea, the sparkles on the pool
water, the small birds at the feeders; everything is alive with the
new life I feel.
I am also experiencing
the release of what was under the surface during this month of not
knowing what the diagnosis might be. I watched myself let go a little.
I had delayed writing projects. I slowed to a crawl. I boxed all my
hopes and tucked them aside. We have the catís claw vine growing in
the garden. As it spreads on the wall it puts out powerful tiny "claws"
and grabs hold, rooting itself. My experience of my psyche was that
I pulled the "tiny claws" of future tomorrows just slightly
away from the wall of life, in case I needed to let go. I was close
to the wall, ready to fully reconnect at any moment, and still very
much alive and invested in life. At the same time, I wanted to sit
loose enough so that if my spirit was calling my body to a transition
I would not have to struggle with the weight of sorrow, fear, disappointment,
panic, etc. Now, I have lain my vine fully against that wall of life,
albeit lightly, and I am investing myself once again in the creative
process of unfolding in consciousness.
On the same day I found out that
I would probably need a biopsy, I picked up the mail to discover that
my agent had returned the novel I had written and I was going to have
to do major revisions. While I was disappointed about the agentís
response, I realized very quickly that that entire subject was of
miniscule importance compared with the life concerns I had on that
same day. I trust I will remember forever more that creating upset
and uproar about all the minor blips on the life screen is a complete
waste of energy and precious life force.
There is only this now, and blessed is this moment