it’s me, summer. long time no share. i’ve been through something pretty major and i haven’t shared it with you. not sharing this thing with people has felt strange for a very long time and so, here i go – this past february 2011 i was diagnosed with cancer and i stopped all creative activity. since then i underwent radiation therapy and have had scans that say i’m “cancer free”. i didn’t tell many. the ones i told were either my family or people i bumped into on the street. not because i didn’t want you to know, but because i just went into a kind of hermit survival mode. now, coming out of it and dealing with the emotional debris i think that i was ashamed in some way of having it. i know – crazy. but cancer makes people do and feel crazy things. looking back i see i didn’t really know how to include people in this and so i didn’t.
i am finally ready to share. i see now that i was keeping it all to myself in attempt to control it, kick its ass and make it vanish. i see now that the fear of sharing it only gives it more power. i am completing my year with finally connecting with you and revealing myself. this truly feels like a liberation to me. it feels like a big step in winning, in growing and really letting cancer be a gift by accepting the storm it brought into my life and acknowledging it happened. until now i’ve been waiting for the moment when i could be done with it, but i never will. it is something that has flipped me in on myself in a very violent, but profound way and it would be strange for me not to tell you that.
the stats on my diagnosis were stage II lymphoma located in one area of my left lower lymph nodes. i underwent a bone marrow biopsy that had no cancer in it, fertility preservation, aka my eggs are in a fancy refrigerator, learned how to give myself shots for that and the radiation lasted four weeks with little direct physical difficulty, though i was very tired and towards the end my skin burned severely. the details are not gruesome like so many who go through chemo, for i only did radiation and thankfully my cancer was highly responsive. i ate an all alkaline diet from the day i found out about cancer until about the end of treatment (this means all raw, vegan food and no sugars, including any fruit sugars or sweet veggies like beets…). i meditated every day and did my best to stay calm. sometimes that was feeling numb, sometimes it was being hopeful, sometimes it was being resolved that cancer was going away, and sometimes it was having outbursts of tears or anger (which looking back, i don’t think i took advantage of enough). all in all the whole thing was and still is a big emotional trip that has really put a pause button on things – or simply switched my priorities around. i’m still figuring out where my compass is leading me. dealing with mortality was and is terrifying and awakening.
this leaves me in a place where i don’t know what i want my life to look like for certain, but i do know how i want to feel about it: full of truth and full of trust. the most important things to me are being present, authentic, powerfully choosing and taking care of my health, enjoyment, slowing down, admiring, being grateful, being in nature, singing, laughing, being still, exercising, creating things i enjoy the creation of as much as i enjoy having completed it, being loving to myself, encouragement, making a positive difference for others (hopefully a lot of others), and listening closely to my inner guidance and following it unrelentingly.
i am not afraid or uncomfortable with sharing about my experience and am fine doing so, but the main point of this email is to take this huge thing that i just went through, that has changed my life forever, and reveal it out in the open air, let it fly away and not be contained inside me like some dark burden i must carry alone. you don’t need to carry it either – it is simply important for me to tell you it happened – and to publicly acknowledge myself for having gone through it.
thank you for contributing to my life and thank you for reading this email. i know it may come as a shock, but i only mean it as an act of peace, connection and freedom. this shit happens, a lot, and it is amazing how we each prevail. i was fascinated during my treatment process that i could walk down the street and no one knew what was happening in my body or in my heart and that that is true of everyone we pass every moment – the person next to us on the bus could be dealing with a disease or a loved one passing and we would never know. this makes me want to smile at people more, hold doors for them, and if they are lost, sad, angry or a jerk, to give them the benefit of the doubt – to shine some understanding in their direction, simply because they’re human. we are so privileged in this modern society, but no matter what abundance and conveniences we have it is part of our life to experience trials. it is part of having a body, people we love, and such beauty in our life. whenever anyone said cliche things like, “if it doesn’t kill you it will only make you stronger” i understood it on a cerebral level and it also always annoyed me. now, for me it’s not that it makes one only stronger, but also softer, it kind of breaks you open in a way so that light can get in where it couldn’t before.
so here i am, revealed and wishing you the loveliest new year’s holiday – for it’s the only one there is, today, now. may you have the courage to follow your heart and let the magic of the universe guide you to your greatest and deepest fulfillments, for that’s all it really wants to do.
with deep love, gratitude and a fart joke or two, happy new year.
your neighborhood super hero,