Courage to Thrive (Image courtesy of Unsplash)
Living in Balance with Chronic Illness
“The words echoed within me “all WILL be O.K., all WILL be well.” — Merging Worlds
When the phone rang, I was in the kitchen. Hearing the words your physician begins with “unfortunately we need to talk about it” brings instant uncertainty. I sat at the kitchen table with my cell phone in one hand and a pen in the other. You think your ready — you’re not. You think you will crumble — you don’t. White clouds of nothingness surrounded me like a hazy dream without music.
In December of 2012, 8 weeks after being fired from a six-year position as a fundraiser for healthcare, I received a diagnosis of prostate cancer, alone in my kitchen.
It changes you.
In ways we can’t imagine, physically from the treatment you receive, the stress on our bodies, and emotionally — both, our new perspective on life and our detailed evaluation of ourselves, and our values.
It changes life.
Cancer survivors or anyone with a chronic illness become numbers, statistics, risks for employers and possible losses for loved ones. What you wish people understood about you is just that — life changed, so did you, but you are still the same loving soul somewhere in the midst of the unpredictable hurricane.
“Know you are loved, you are safe, you are enough, and you matter!”
There is no magic answer. Some doctors will say your fine, some of your closest friends and family will say your fine. Some healthcare professionals will tell you more dire outcomes that engage fears in ways like fiery dragons emerge from their caves — not allowing for much hope.
What worked for me is faith in something bigger than myself, taking charge of my diet and exercise regimen, and creating a network of social connections that either understood what I was going through or had other life experiences that brought them similar questions and perspectives on life.
The resources that help me to remain positive, humble, and to get through are the ones that hold me in service to myself, others, and to the planet. They facilitate purpose.
- Daily prayer and meditating
- Yoga and nature
- Creativity, writing and recording music
Having a morning and evening ritual of prayer or mediation help me tremendously. It sets the tone for the day and creates a space to rest at night. I’m grateful for each day and the blessings, the gifts, the opportunities it brings. I have found amazing peace in that.
Attending a yoga class helps the body to flush out toxins, stretch out tight muscles, align our spine — and chakras, our bodies energy centers. Eastern philosophy and medicine have worked with our bodies energy systems for thousands of year’s and now is getting major attention in the West, along with new scientific proof that bodywork — works. Nature has also always been a grounding and healing place for me. A walk on the beach, a hike in the mountains, a stroll in he park is an instant cure-all.
Any type of creative activity is not only good for the soul, but builds healing energy. Especially when you do it with or for someone else. Cook a meal, paint a bedroom, paint a painting, write a poem. I have always been a writer, a poet, and a musician. For me, I am in joy as life-force flows through me in the creative process.
Since my cancer diagnoses, I have written three books, began a blog called Yesrising, and am working on new music and videos. My platform, that began as an outlet in 2013, has evolved into resources and inspiration for other artists, survivors, LGBTQ or anyone who wants a different, maybe offbeat, maybe off the beaten path, perspective on life.
The biggest piece of advice I have to offer? Know this: You are loved, you are safe, you are enough, and you matter!