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– Why Me?

Life’s meaning is not some pre-ordination waiting to be discovered, but is something to be created.

— my interpretation of the philosophy of Humanism

A diagnosis of a terminal disease forces us to confront our mortality, ponder the meaning of life, and wonder how we ended up on this journey.

I don’t die easily. I survived falling into the pool as an infant, a suicide attempt, cerebral malaria and all the other diseases I collected, centipedes biting me, bull sharks stalking me, what else? Oh, dying of dehydration with severe dysentery while trekking in Nepal, stranded in the arctic with a crashed plane, criminals and federales with knives and guns, lost at night in a snowstorm on a 17,000 ft volcano, a head-on collision with a tree at 140km per hour, stranded by ash when Mt. St. Helens blew, a green mamba falling on me from a tree and miraculously not biting me. You get the idea. All y’all got your own mambas.

So, am I just lucky? Or am I just too stubborn? If I was so lucky, then why did these things happen to me in the first place? Is there a syllabus to life? Am I lucky that the universe picks on me because it just makes me stronger? Are even the tough times gifts? I choose to see it that way and decide that I am just too stubborn to die. I choose to see cancer as a gift and vow that my stubbornness will prevail. I will not go gentle into that good night, they are going to have to drag me kicking and screaming. Are you with me?

But it’s so bloody unfair! Why am I still alive when so many dear, beautiful people… fellow travellers on my journey… are succumbing all around me? In the beginning, I’d wondered what I had done to deserve getting cancer. Now I’m anguished by survivors’ guilt… why have I survived when other people… better people than me… have not? Seriously, Rod, Jenn, Jane, Janice, Vera, Colleen, Laurie, Marianne, Maria, Julie, and now another dear friend is in a coma. All diagnosed after me with Stage IV, or even Stage 0-III! And all have disincorporated and gone to their next assignment. And I look and feel better in this incorporation than I have in years with absolutely no current symptoms.

It’s an age-old question… why do bad things happen to good people? Me no know. Think I’ve got any answers? Hah! The best I can do is share my humanity with you and maybe we won’t feel so alone. But I can’t stop the question from battering me relentlessly. Especially when people look to me for answers. What are my potions, what are my miracle cures? It’s true I’ve been fighting hard for a very long time, never giving up, opening my mind, trying everything that made sense, and sharing it with you. And it’s true I’ve tried some things that the others haven’t. But I have no freaking idea which, if any, of the myriad things that I’ve done have played a role in my survival.

And, damn it all! Rod was doing all the same things I was! He fought so valiantly, with the loving help of his amazing and beautiful wife and twins. We traded antidotes and anecdotes. He was the nicest guy in the world. Like the others… way nicer than me. Is that it? Am I just too mean and ugly to die? My niece commented that it’s hard to kill me. True that, but why?

Do I have an invisible forcefield? Is there a God with a plan for me? Did I get cancer because I’m supposed to write this book? What happens when I finish? Will I just keel over and go to ‘my next assignment’? Is that why it’s taking me so long to finish it? Am I procrastinating because I’m not ready to go? Maybe I got brain metastases because the aliens thought the ending to my book sucked and so they are giving me new material? Hahahaa. Doubt it.

I have an unwavering faith in divine positive spiritual energy that can be harnessed to affect reality. But I don’t necessarily believe in a judgmental mono-deity that is ‘up there’ keeping score and has plotted out my whole life. Why would such a being spare me and not the others? It makes just as much sense to me that extraterrestrials are sitting around a Star Wars bar somewhere messing with our lives and placing bets. We could be like little turtles with numbers painted on our shells, providing great, back-slapping entertainment as we struggle through the trials and tribulations placed before us.

My naturopathic oncologist friend was the first and only medical professional to tell me that Stage IV doesn’t HAVE to be a terminal diagnosis. By all medical and legal definitions it is. Once diagnosed, you will die of it, unless something else kills you first. By that definition, we’re all terminal, right?

We are all just walking each other home — Ram Dass

But there’s something so final when a doctor says it. After meeting long-term Stage IV survivors and seeing that it is possible to remain incorporate for years, I have chosen to look at it as treating a chronic condition and not a terminal diagnosis. Am I still alive because of simple semantics?

When I read the book, “Remarkable Recoveries,” I was struck that all of the cases spanning hundreds of years had one thing in common… at one point, they said, “Bullshit. I’m not going to die. I will get through this.” My oncologist friend says I have one personality trait in common with all the long-term survivors that he has known… I have a problem with authority. I’m not going to go off and die just because someone in a white coat told me that I will. I’ll show YOU! I will live just to spite you. Hahahaaa. So all those schoolyears spent in the principal’s office are paying off!

Maybe you can’t just say you’re gonna show them. Maybe you have to actually be so self-obsessed with delusions of grandeur and comfortable as a know-it-all that you really believe you know more than experts who say you will die. I have never accepted that other people know more about me than I do. Maybe if you are too polite, you die because you think you’re supposed to. I absolutely believe this quote about writing your own ending.

At any given moment, you have the power to say, this is not how the story is going to end.

— M.H.S. Pourri

I have a problem with authority and I don’t die when I’m told to… so again, I’m just too ornery to die?

In a study in the Journal of Neuroendocrinology, Dr. Bruce Lipton talks about the “nocebo” effect, the result of negative thoughts (which is the opposite of the placebo effect or, the healing that accompanies positive thoughts of healing). Those nocebos, my dears, are what western doctors are really good at implanting in our brains. Brains that have already been programmed by society to feel that we are victims, that we have no control, that they and only they have the power to heal us. When they tell us we’re going to die, our subconscious accepts that programming and it overpowers our conscious attempts to heal ourselves. So, one can’t just speak positive affirmations out loud, one must enter another state of consciousness and reprogram the subconscious.

We can influence whether our genes express… epigenetics. According to the above study, changes to certain genes pertaining to inflammation occurred in subjects who participated in mindfulness training vs. those who didn’t. We’re talking measurable changes on a molecular and genomic level. This is published proof of mind over matter in healing. Perhaps my floating in the bay, meditating and visualizing healing, created an altered consciousness and combined with my own anti-authoritarian nature to override nocebos.

Or maybe the afterlife is only recruiting sweet, non-confrontational souls because those are needed for the next assignment. If so, they are cherry-picking the best. Bless all those that have passed… may their next assignments bring them as much joy and love as they brought to this incarnation. For my fellow travelers on this oh-so-difficult path… keep the faith, spread the love, and, if you do get reassigned, we will have a party on the other side. Mwaah!

 

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