Holy Sit: Suicide by Cancer - Part II (Choosing to Live)

Suicide by Cancer - Part II (Choosing to Live)

In October 2011, I received a cancer diagnosis. The cliché it was a dark period in my life is an inadequate description for walking on such a narrow ledge. For the first month after the diagnosis, I would wake up to the lyrics of this popular song playing in my head about every other morning. 

If I die young, bury me in satin

Lay me down on a, bed of roses

Sink me in the river, at dawn

Send me away with the words of a love song

The sharp knife of a short life, well
I've had just enough time

If you want to hear the melody to this enlivening song, it’s called If I Die Young, by The Band Perry and here’s a link to their You Tube video.

The song is dark but in a cheery way. It certainly fit my mood in those days – terrified with a dash of hope. 

Lord make me a rainbow, I'll shine down on my mother

She'll know I'm safe with you when she stands under my colors, oh well

Life ain't always what you think it ought to be, no

Ain't even grey, but she buries her baby

Uh oh, uh oh

 The sharp knife of a short life, well

I've had just enough time

When I woke to this song, I felt deeply depressed. My admirable intention to pull this weed of cancer by the root so it didn’t manifest elsewhere in my body, sounded more idealistic than realistic especially when my reserves and my spirits were so low. There were many physical, emotional and mental layers to unravel in order for total healing to occur. It seemed insurmountable in my current state.

I thought of my friend Mack, the subject of the last blog, Suicide by Cancer - Part I. Given what I witnessed in my twenties with his quick death, I was forced to ask myself the unthinkable question that he and I never discussed; “Do I really want to live?” I knew from experience that if the answer was actually “No,” then my powerful mind would override all cancer treatments and I simply wouldn’t survive. Until this big, hairy, taboo question reached resolution, it didn’t matter what treatment option I chose.

Some days, the answer to the question was an easy “Yes.” Of course I wanted to live! My friends and family loved me. I still had work to do on the planet. There were places I hadn’t traveled, food I hadn’t indulged in, many dances yet to be danced! AND, I hadn’t yet found the love of my life…

And I'll be wearing white, when I come into your kingdom

I'm as green as the ring on my little cold finger,

I've never known the lovin' of a man

But it sure felt nice when he was holdin' my hand,

There's a boy here in town, says he'll love me forever,

Who would have thought forever could be severed by

The sharp knife of a short life, well,
I've had just enough time

DO I REALLY WANT TO LIVE? I asked myself the question over and over again.

Surprisingly, the answer was not always a clear “Yes.” It varied daily and I played out the life question scenario in my head in a series of if/then flow chart statements that looked something like this:

Question #1: Do I really want to live?
Politically correct answer #1: Yes-ish…
HONEST Answer #1: NO! Not under my life’s current conditions…

Question #2: Can I change the conditions of my life?
Answer 2A: If no, then suicide by cancer. In my darker days I thought of Mack and wondered who would question suicide by cancer. There would be time for goodbyes and I wouldn’t have to write a long, melodramatic letter absolving anyone from blame before flinging myself off a bridge. Besides, I could be sure Mack would be waiting for me with a cold Labatts beer and a friendly round of foul-mouthed pool… 

So put on your best boys and I'll wear my pearls

What I never did is done...

Answer 2B: If yes, I can change the conditions of my life, then what conditions MUST change in order to CHOOSE to stay on the planet and create the life of my dreams?

I knew I was the only one responsible for the state of my life with some exceptions i.e. I can’t necessarily control the environmental factors that contributed to the cancer diagnosis. But, I could change the elements of my life that weren’t working, regardless of my health. I could change my mindset.

That’s when I dug deep and took an honest emotional, mental and physical inventory of my life. I started identifying the Holy Sit List - things I needed to address in order to live the 2nd half of my life with utter health, happiness, love, abundance and peace! 

Some of the items on my list felt overwhelming in my current weakened state. In addition to the cancer robbing energy from my body, I struggled with depression off and on throughout my life. This, coupled with my workaholic tendencies had fried my adrenals, my reserves and often my resolve.
Add to that the current state of World affairs and it wasn't a long walk to despair. Talk to anyone who’s been really sick and tired and he or she will tell you how hard it is to imagine not being sick and tired. On those  days, the concept of “opting out” and finally being able to rest felt like relief! On those really dark days, I forced myself to act as if I wanted to be on the planet. Even when I didn’t feel like it, I chose to eat healthy food, go to work and show up in my new community to dance with cancer

I also came up with a tremendously valuable visualization exercise. I visualized Skyping with my parents a few months into the future. In that video call I would announce to them that my cancer was gone. The emotional impact of imagining the relief on their sweet faces would motivate me to keep taking the next steps forward. Even if I didn’t fully embrace my own life that day, at least I wanted to be alive for the sake of my parents.

There’s a small distinction between “acting as if” you want to be on the planet versus “going through the motions” of treatment, like my friend, Mack. This nuance is important. Neither one guarantees that you will live, but one increases your likelihood of success exponentially. The mind is powerful and sometimes, you can actually act yourself into a new state of mind. That is exactly what happened for me.

Sometime over the coming months, these external steps started to take root in the form of internal motivation. I started to get excited about the life I could create for myself now and especially after the cancer was gone. The Holy Sit list expanded and included goals that I continue to work on and write about today such as:

  • Obtain optimum physical health and vitality: what could true health and vitality look like once the cancer and exhaustion were gone? I’ve already addressed some of this in the chapters about detoxifying and I’ll continue to write more on physical health and vitality. 
  • Deepen my spiritual commitment and connection to source.
  • Habituate my inner peace practices.
  • Continue to contribute to the world without sacrificing my health any longer. This old pattern of draining my vitality for the sake of the job, a project or others simply had to be rewritten. 
  • Achieve greater self-love and acceptance. I have daily exercises that help me with this now. 
  • Secure a solid home/foundation.
  • Build more travel and world exploration into my life.
  • Spend more quality time with my tribe, friends, family and like-minded souls.
  • Heal unresolved emotional, mental and physical wounds in order to have greater health and greater access to my heart.
  • Find and cherish the love of my life.
  • Leave a legacy. Write a best-selling inspirational book...
A penny for my thoughts, oh no, I'll sell 'em for a dollar

They're worth so much more after I'm a goner

And maybe then you'll hear the words I been singin'

Funny when you're dead how people start listenin'

The Holy Sit list continues even after I’ve been cleared from cancer. I now take this living on purpose thing seriously! By the way, that Skype call happened with my parents and it was just as I envisioned it - powerful, tearful and life saving.

There are countless people who fight hard to heal themselves from cancer and NEVER EVER take a day for granted. I bow to them and sometimes feel embarrassed that I ever wavered. As an expression of gratitude for all that I am blessed with, I did not just want to win the battle with cancer; I wanted to have a better life to show for it, especially for all of those who don’t make it, like my friend Mack.

If I die young, bury me in satin

Lay me down on a bed of roses

Sink me in the river at dawn

Send me away with the words of a love song

Uh oh (uh, oh)

The ballad of a dove (oh, uh)

Go with peace and love

Gather up your tears, keep 'em in your pocket

Save 'em for a time when you're really gonna need 'em, oh

The sharp knife of a short life, well

I've had just enough time

My sister-in-law. Martha, says that if you’ve got something that seems insurmountable, give it 90 days. Anything can change in 90 days. My friend John says, "Suicide is a long-term solution to a short-term problem.” If you are depressed, have just been diagnosed with a challenging disease or can’t find the joy of life in this moment, please remember:
You can always accept the diagnosis, but you NEVER have to accept the prognosis.
What is one small step you can take to act as if you want to be here? What other incremental, life-defining issue can you change in 90 days regardless of your health or life circumstances?

You are precious and deserve to be here on the planet, just like me. And, just like me, you have that choice and the power to change your life circumstances. That’s what cancer did for me. I found my “It” in the Holy Sit List and am now, choosing to rewrite my life circumstances. Whatever your “It” is, let’s get to it! It’s time to change the song that’s playing in our heads...

Speaking of getting to it, I found that healing from cancer required an important change in perspective. To read how I took the power out of "the C word", click here
In peace,

Note: This Holy Sit blog is one in a series of blog posts that tell the story of my journey healing from cancer without surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. It's also about spiritual awakening and finding inner peace in a chaotic world. If you want to read the full story, check out the chapter titles on the Holy Sit home page & start with this one.  Cheers to your health!