They gave me four months to live. Shortly, harshly, irrevocably. They told me to kiss goodbye the thought of ever having children. They told me with breath haltingly detachment that, if, by some absurd chance, “fate” cast its lucky dice and offered me the necessary days for bringing a child into this world, it still wouldn’t be wise to selfishly and at any cost want to deliver a child that would ultimately end up motherless.
Can you believe that the doctor was having visible difficulties keeping his laughter in check, while telling me these things, and I was bulging my eyes out, going into shock, tears flowing freely, without me even realizing it? Some people can be so cynical…
When I caustically retorted: “You’re already seeing me as a waling corpse, aren’t you? This must be an amusing image…”, he tried “consoling” me in an attempt to justify his grin that he realized didn’t go unnoticed, making efforts to look serious, lowering his gaze and assuring me that it just wasn’t possible for him to be wrong and that he had delivered what I had asked for, the truth, and that he was, already, highly accustomed to breaking such news to people.
He tried to “redignify” my hurt feelings through ridiculous attempts of flattery at my wanting to hear the cold, harsh truth, while falsely kept chuntering: “Should you know how many people would rather hear pretty lies, and then, not knowing what hit them. Poor them, they hope to live, but they keep dying inside without even realizing it. You on the other hand, I admire you! Too few have the courage to even wish to know the truth. I apologize, I couldn’t lie to you, because you asked me to be honest. I’m sorry I have no other news to give you, although I would have liked things to be different.”
I was already crying my heart out, surprised that I couldn’t refrain myself, my hand clasped in his.
– Are you certain there is no hope? None whatsoever?
– I would be lying to you. I truly don’t believe there is any. It is one of the most severe forms of cancer, the fast killing malignant melanoma. You can’t negotiate with it, you can’t patch it to make it feel better, operate on, or drag it out for a few years. It is extremely aggressive.
– How much time do I have left?
– Four months, maybe six, to make you feel better, although I doubt it…
I felt I had no knowledge or information that I could base my choices on. After all, these choices were practically inexistent. I would have stooped to anything. I would have preferred a different doctor’s “authority”, someone trustworthy, but I found no such person. None of them seemed to hold any type of universal truth. I didn’t need to be stripped of my last shred of dignity, as I saw it, to be already regarded as a corpse, a “minus one” on the social register. I had no need for pity or compassion, I felt nothing but a stringent need to understand what was happening to me. My brain felt numb, in a state of shock.
“Coincidence” had brought the operating doctor on my path. He was from a different county. I had surgery and got discharged all in one day. Before surgery, during the preoperative evaluation, I showed the doctor the “beauty mark” like the one he was about to excise, the one that I feared most. I had always feared that particular strange “beauty mark”.
The irony! The doctor stared, became very anxious and called some colleagues who were shown the object of my fear. I was convinced it had to be something bad, but the doctors seemed “joyful”, excited, gesturing and fussing as if they had witnessed something spectacular. “It’s crystal clear! This is the way these bozos are normally acting! They consider people guinea pigs”, I said to myself. “Obviously, it must be bad…”
It was only afterwards that I found what all that joy was about:
– Hey, colleague, have you seen anything like this before? Amazing!
– What is it? What is wrong with me? I asked desperately, almost fainting.
– You have a third, undeveloped nipple. From birth. It’s amazing…
Wonderful. Now I felt like in that SF film, “Total Recall” (where a three-breasted alien appears). My biggest fear had always been an illusion. An amusing one at that. Oh, the pointlessness! Oh, the burden of knowing nothing on the matter! It could truly turn you into a guinea pig, at the discretion of others.
Just before the intervention, when he looked into my eyes, I distinctly felt the doctor, who was about to operate on me, softening up, even though he was a well-known, experienced surgeon. It was as if he was looking at his own child. He sighed, shook it off and got to work. He assured me he had done everything he could, almost as if apologizing for not being God. Then, he discharged me. He let me go home. He told me to wait for the results of the biopsy, and afterwards we would decide on the course of action. “Doc, should I have this test done? The so-and-so marker?”. That particular test was very expensive. The doctor, obviously uneasy at looking into my eyes, gave me the impression of wanting to put an end to any discussion as soon as possible and get me out of his sight. “Yes, take it, if you really wish…”
I didn’t really have anyone to give me a piece of advise after receiving the results of the biopsy. I was on my own. An acquaintance, who is a hematologist, told me:
– You’re going to live.
– Oh, well! You’re just saying that to encourage me. There’s no way of you knowing that.
– I mean it. From my experience, those people who get this type of news and start crying and wailing, get scared and believe they have no chances, they kick the bucket the fastest. People with your attitude: “Okay, so what is there left to do now?”, although they’re scared or they cry, they get to live.
Initially, I kept searching for medical solutions. It’s a sickly ingrained configuration of our brains that makes us believe we are safer this way, when, in reality, the only security can be found solely within ourselves, as in where the “problems” originated.
I began gathering information. I went to Hungary, because you still couldn’t get a PET-CT scan in Romania. I was glad and grateful for science. I had finally found a detailed evaluation procedure, which could tell what was happening inside my body. I had a strange feeling, at that thought, of needing machinery to gain access to my body.
The nurse there grew very fond of me. After the medical procedure, I told her I would return in three months’ time to repeat the test, because I wanted to know everything, to be sure, to check if everything was alright, to know what decisions I had to make further. She squeezed my hand, sneaked a furtive glance to her left and to her right, made sure no one was listening and whispered: “Nooo! Under no circumstances should you do that, I beg you! You know, I don’t want to alarm you, but even this analysis can be dangerous. They say that it can be done every three months, but you know what I say, and I ask of you? You are young, I’ve seen so many cases… Please, go home. Forget about tests. Just live your life!”
Do you think that I could listen to her and hear God speaking to me through others, as Neale Donald Walsh says? “Be serious, lady”, I’d think to myself, “you may care about me, but I love myself more”. I plucked her sleeve and poked and pried:
– Does that mean I’m okay? That I don’t need any more tests? What do you mean go home and just live? And why doesn’t anyone say this test may be dangerous?
– Shhhh…, the nurse hushed frightened. Look, the truth is we can’t say that, but you have to know that there is a downside in everything, whatsoever. Believe me, I’ve seen many ill people; I know you want guarantees, but they don’t exist. It doesn’t mean you’re fine, but what I’m trying to tell you is to not turn yourself over solely to the doctors. I’ve seen the way patients end up, and do you know what they all say in the end? That they would’ve liked to not live their last days in such a way. That if they’d known that it would end, anyway, at least they would’ve spent this time at home with their loved ones, not on the rack. That is what I’m trying to say. I don’t know how long you’ve got, but no matter what that time is, go home, live it close to your family, that’s your only chance. And, maybe, who knows, you’ll be fine? Stop searching for guarantees, because they aren’t real. All you can do is believe that you’ll be okay and be hopeful.
Bonus: a smile and a hug. With all the care in the world. Blessed woman!
The oncologists suggested that, if I was refusing “preemptive” chemotherapy, I should at least be administered Interferon, “preemptively”, or accept the “preemptive” excision of the sentinel node, the nearest to the cancerous area. I immutably refused. The PET-CT scan results did not show any metastases. “Preemptively”, I was recommended to get lung x-rays and ultrasounds every three months. I said no to those as well. What the hell was I supposed to prevent, when everything had already happened?!
I turned the page. Let’s go to church, have the priests exorcise me, tell me something, foresee my future. I went to a priest who was famous for being a diviner. I felt both humble and humiliated. I was willing to stoop to anything, if only I could save my skin.
On hearing that I have cancer, the priest, similar to the doctor, laughed. Meanwhile, I was crying. I conviced myself that it must have been a sign of a wisdom that kept eluding me, due to my inferiority – to hell with that lack of confidence. “But, isn’t it true that we all go, sooner or later? What’s the big deal?!”. “It might not be, father”, I said to myself, “maybe not to you. But it is for me. Maybe you have a guaranteed, reserved spot, up front, but I’m scared, and I don’t feel ready for that. I want time to ready myself, at least like the samurai do.”
The priest interrogated me, asking me details about my life. Then, he frowned and “thundered” the verdict: I was to cover my head with a veil! Yes, and go to church every Sunday, penitently, for the entire sermon. Pray I don’t know how many times in I don’t know how many ways. But the most important thing was that I had to cook for my man! I swear that’s what he told me. It was mandatory that I prepared food for him, ask him what he preferred and make it every day, and even more, learn devoutness, set the table and clean it after him. “You shall not return to me if you fail to do this, do you hear me? I won’t receive you!”
Dear reader, I don’t know if you believe me or not, but I got out of there even more dazed and shocked then when I had arrived. I was literally stammering. I couldn’t even begin to tell my family what I had gone through and recount for them the solution. I felt rejected, an outcast, a pariah, whose place in heaven had been receded. I felt like a “sinner”, dirty, unworthy and hopeless. I started thinking. “I can do this! I have to be able to do this, if it’ll help. But what if it doesn’t help, and I go through this for nothing, just like with chemo?”
Then, I swear to you, I started laughing, hysterically and uncontrollably. I couldn’t breathe at how hard I was laughing. I laughed by myself, like a lunatic, till tears came from my eyes. “Girl, you’re screwed! It’s clear. At least the priest helped me with one thing. I’d rather accept the idea of dying. I’m tired of looking for answers. And I won’t do what he says in a million years. I’d rather die on my own terms. Father, dearest, I couldn’t even fathom… oh God, I’m dying here! Me, wearing a veil? God forbid, indeed! Going to church every Sunday, for the whole service? Oh, father, I’ve tried this before. Haven’t you seen that in your visions? That my grandmother and great-grandmother would drag me to church all day long and staying for the whole service so they’d get all the gossip? I’ve tried it before, father, with no result. Every time I’d fall dead asleep. If anyone starts singing in my ear and forces me to sit still, I go out like a candlelight. I might go to hell for it, father, I’ll be damned, but wherever you make me sit, I’ll sleep christianly. Obviously, it’s a no deal! And cook for my man, daily? Ask him what he likes, set the table and clean it? That’s not me. I don’t want to live as someone else. Should I polish his shoes, too? What else should I be doing, father? That’s it, I’m better off dead.” And still I was laughing my head off.
The only solution that soothed my soul and fit like a glove was meditation. I truly believed in that, and I could actually find my peace. Then, I found a few other things that I believed in: psychotherapy and wheatgrass juice. In the end, I did exactly what the PET-CT nurse had told me to, without even realizing – it came naturally. I had no one to “rely upon”, as all my dear ones were in shock, and seemed to close off, guarding themselves from the pain of my loss, even though I was still there, in flesh and blood and needing their affection like the air that I breathed. It’s a natural mental mechanism that gets triggered under these circumstances, in both involved parties.
I felt lonelier than ever. I felt like I had nothing more to lose. And that is how I started to simply live. I felt more human than ever. My body truly became my best friend without needing machines and tests to tell me what was happening on the inside. My mind couldn’t handle the multitude of thoughts invoking my paralyzing fear anymore. I squashed them like unpleasant insects. “Come what may, so, let’s do what we can with what we have.”
I felt freer than ever. I wanted to laugh both at my former little worries and my major concerns and griefs. I smiled seeing people fussing about, as I had until not long ago. I had learned how to run my own mile. “The Green Mile” is the title of an excellent movie.
Just like Socrates, I began to learn. And by doing that, I started living the joy of discovery. Every day mattered. Each new piece of information. Almost everything I had known on life before proved itself to be false. I felt happy even for the chance of having discovered that. I literally felt that I was growing richer by the day, as each new piece of information became an invaluable treasure that pulled me out of the darkness I had been groping into for such a long time. I was grateful for each day, I smiled much more often and more sincerely. Fear had vanished into thin air.
Socrates had been my true love, my role model, since I had studied philosophy. It wasn’t until then, when I was feeling it on my own skin, that I understood what he had meant by “I know that I know nothing”. The paradox of the mind. It wasn’t until then that I felt and understood why others had thought him crazy, when having received the death penalty, before drinking hemlock, his last wish had been to learn to play the flute. When asked what for, since he was to die regardlessly, Socrates answered, cheerfully, in his inimitable way: “Because this is the perfect moment, if not now, then when?”
Years have passed since then. This all happened in 2008. In 2014, I became a mother. The priests screwed up their noses at the baptism, and asked us, the parents, if any one of us was a Buddhist, after seeing the name Dharma. A friend of mine experienced a similar happening, because she had the guts to name her baby boy Dante. Oh, the inferno and the tragedy!
The real tragedy is that since then, I have seen people dying of cancer, all around me. Strong people, as straight and strong as fir trees. They expired, melted under our eyes, in a matter of a few months. I know who got through it alive didn’t take the “battle” approach with what was transpiring, but consciously or instinctively practiced an acceptance of reality, as it was presented and an acceptance of what they were feeling, letting it flow, manifest without resistance and hostility. And this practice, together with renouncing fear and self-preservation, has brought them to another level of consciousness. Einstein was right, saying that no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.
Throughout the following years up until present days, I’ve been closely monitoring all these cases. I’ve analyzed myself and continued learning. I’ve seen how I’m capable of self-manipulation, sabotage, inducing certain so-called “illnesses” unto myself. How one thought is enough to make the “illness” appear or vanish. I began to develop a conscious relationship with my body, and I’ve seen it respond. As I was practicing the thought-control strategy and kept seeing visible, unquestionable results, I gathered there was no philosophy involved – no “miracle”. And what if what we were taught to call “illness” is, in reality, healing? Even if it ends in death? Yes, what if? Don’t they say that man is “delivered” to where there is “no pain or suffering”? I, for one, would rather go without a veil on my head.
But, what if everything we’ve ever learned about illness and death is false? How about not taking for granted all the information we’ve been configured with? But what if…? Why…? Think, people, thinking is free! At least try to see that there is something else than all we have ever thought existed. We might be failing to see the wood for the trees. Or, it might be because of the veil on our eyes.
– excerpt from the book „What will you forsake for happiness?” written by Livia Bonarov –
Preluare continut de pe acest site.
Se pot prelua doua paragrafe din continutul unui articol, cu indicarea link-ului sursei unde poate fi citita continuarea.