14 months ago, doctors told me I had fewer than 6 months to live. More like 3 months, really, considering how advanced my disease was. Three months. If I had listened to and believed my doctors, I would have died almost a year ago.
Those doctors didn’t know who they were dealing with. Deep inside, I didn’t take my diagnosis seriously. How could I? I knew in my bones they were wrong, I wasn’t dying — wasn’t going to die — but I didn’t yet know how to make true, deep, vibrant living happen. My beloved Kahuna is a freaking bulldog. He knew how to make living happen if it killed me! He went on a mission to save me. Along the way I think he also saved himself.
Most of the past year, I spent in a tunnel. Memories, wisps of dreams and old songs, and faces floated in front of me and then floated away again. I could never catch them. Catching took energy. I tried to engage with life, I tried to care, I tried to be a part of the world. It was really hard. Facebook became my lifeline, my private microcosm of what was happening in the world outside. But I spent my days inside — inside my head, inside my body, trying to make sense of what was happening to me.
I was dying.
There’s a list 20-deep on my phone of the blog posts I wanted badly to write but couldn’t. I had so much to say! So much about my Inside World wanted to feel the sun and the wind of the Outside World. But writing takes energy. Thinking and feeling take energy. Drinking 12 fucking juices a day takes energy. Everything takes energy, and most days I could only stand up for a few minutes at a time, let alone sit upright and be clear in my head and make words happen on a page. Writing is my world, my expression, my lifeblood, and I couldn’t even. Just couldn’t. So a lot happened this past year that you don’t know anything about.
A lot happened that you do know about. I danced tango. I felt sad and scared. Sometimes I reveled in the horror of what was happening to my shrinking body. Sometimes I felt luminous. I felt the embrace of community. I allowed myself to feel buoyed by friends, my worldwide family. People — so many people, near and far — gave us money that helped us pay for rent and food and for the holistic medicines that helped keep me from dying.
You helped keep me alive.
I wanted more. More than just being alive. I wanted to fucking LIVE, once and for all. There were things I needed so I could live — really live. Kahuna listened, and we did them.
Tantra saved my life.
Wait, what? A weird sex practice saved my life?
Once I went skydiving. Auckland’s airport is festooned with giant posters that depict laughing, vibrant, alive people doing dangerous things. The day I arrived in New Zealand in 2009 I decided I was one of those vibrant alive people. I would do dangerous things and feel my aliveness! So I went whitewater rafting (afraid of water). And then I went skydiving (afraid of heights). That’s what I do. When I’m deeply afraid of something, I dive right in. I want to uncover the secrets and own them. I want to master my fears.
I was deeply wounded sexually in my past, not once but many many times over years and years. Childhood molestation. Rape at barely 18. Sex after being shamed or pressured into acquiescing. Promiscuous, drunken sex. Sex only if alcohol was involved. Sex that drew me ever-deeper into my private fantasies instead of connecting with a real, breathing human. I knew my story wasn’t shared by everyone. I knew other women had different experiences with sex than I did. I knew other women liked sex.
I started to think I was broken.
Being so sick and so close to death removed a huge burden. I didn’t have to think about sex. I didn’t have to think about feeling broken. I had an out. I was terribly thin and frail. My whole body hurt. Clearly, sex should be the last thing on my mind, right?
I’m a skydiver at heart. I dive into what scares me. Oh yes, I kick and scream and resist a lot, maybe even for years, but eventually I make the dive.
Cancer and almost dying showed me what I needed in order to truly live.
- accept and heal my emotional wounds and blocks
- heal my severed connection to Spirit
- serve in community
- find my life purpose and live life aligned with it
We went to tantra teacher training this summer to get healing. I came away knowing why I am on the planet and how to embody my purpose. Kahuna and I added to my healing program to encompass and embrace tantra as a path to life. We do yoga together every day. We practice pranayama. We give one another healing sessions. And we can finally turn our energy outward and begin to serve the community that helped keep us alive.
So how am I doing, really?
I’ve gained about 5 pounds after more than a year in anorexic-looking territory. Pretty soon I’ll hit triple digits. My body wants to live.
My little cancer-nuggets are changing — getting smaller or softer. There’s one tumor-nugget I think of as my Canary In A Coal Mine, nestled in close to my right hip bone just under the skin. Definitely smaller than a pea now. Change like this is good. There is still cancer in my body, obvs, but I’ve got the upper hand. I’ll get scans in a few months and check. No biggie, no fear.
Muscle is happening! For a year, my body looked like a shriveled bag of sticks. Now I’ve got some muscle. I love my calves. I love the ropy muscles emerging from the bird-bones of my arms. I love seeing how broad my shoulders are. I love that my breasts are coming back and perking up after looking in the mirror at two deflated bags hanging on my chest for the past year. I love that my buttocks and thighs are rounding again. No more saggy butt-skin crawling down skinny legs.
My skin looks better than it has in decades. Taut, soft, a slight sheen. I keep touching the skin on my arms, loving the soft velvety feel.
Moar energy! Hell, I can do an hour of hot yoga and then come home and stand at the juicer for another hour. Still have major ups and downs (some days are Nap Days and Abandon All The Stuff On The Calendar Days), but overall I’m trending upward on the energy scale.
I still juice. I still resent every single vile tasting juice I drink. Down from 12 juices a day to about 6 now, because….
I eat real food! It’s all aligned with my metabolics and I avoid foods I’m reactive to (a whole pile of things) and I avoid stuff that I shouldn’t be eating anyway (alcohol, sugar, flour, processed foods, and crap foods), but overall this is MUCH BETTER than the stupid food I ate for months and months last year which was mostly made of carrots and potatoes. Now I get grass-fed meat and pastured organic chicken and pastured eggs and all sorts of yummies.
I take a boatload of pills every day. About 120 little fuckers. Some are powdered herbs we squish into capsules ourselves, some are actual pharmaceuticals (my version of chemo) and some are to help with digesting food. I’ll be swallowing pills the rest of my life. Small price to pay, eh?
Most days, I have hope. Not just hope, but excitement! I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that as long as I stay on my path of living in alignment with my purpose — to serve the Divine in ever-deepening connection to my body as a conduit between heaven and earth — that All The Fun Things are not only possible, but are fucking inevitable. Once you plug into your purpose and your beingness, you can’t help but soar.