By: Jean Di Carlo-Wagner, Owner of Yoga Being.
The diagnosis of cancer pierces the dense illusionary promises of ‘tomorrow’. In a moment, we stand naked with ourselves, vulnerable and raw. We have immediate decisions to make. What will be my path? What will be my outcome?
Just two days ago, an acquaintance I have known through friends and through music making, was diagnosed with late stage ovarian cancer. “Jean, I’m thinking of going to Mexico for alternative types of low-dose chemotherapy. I’m thinking that I need more time to make a decision. I am afraid the chemotherapy will kill me. And that it will kill my immune system. Will I be able to play the piano if I get neuropathy? Playing the piano is my life.”
No one has answers for anyone else. I can share my experience and what I’ve learned from other cancer patients in the twelve years since my own colorectal diagnosis. But the journey one takes is within to find their answers. Cancer is a fierce foe, and can be unrelenting in its onslaught. Pain can drive our minds to dark and fearful places. If we go within, what will we find? Beyond pain, is there stillness within?
Escape is not an option for those of us with a late diagnosis.
Time is of the essence.
What we choose can determine the length and quality of our lives.
Only we know our values and preferences.
However, they can be difficult to discern in the midst of devastating health news. Only we can decide, and if and when, we say, “Enough, I am done with cancer treatments. ”
The polar opposites of life and death seem rigidity clear. Our earthly self cries out: “I choose life!” The question sparks an internal journey: life on what terms? My mother was very happy to sit in her easy chair; the patio garden provided hours of satisfying gazing. Was she meditating? Yes, to me she was. When I asked her, “Mom, what would you spend more time doing, if you had to live your life again?” She looked up at the hummingbird feeder, then caressed the budding flowers with her eyes. “I’d spend more time with you, doing this: talking and looking out the window.”
It was a simple, but profound answer: a Truth. Words that I use as a compass through the rough waves of my life. I reflect on my choices. Am I doing the things that make me feel happy? Am I taking joy in simple pleasures? Am I in this moment? In my mother’s answer lies the very basic truth of being. She spent three years in her easy chair. I spent many hours beside her. Together, we journeyed along a footpath to her final days. We had a long good-bye. Ultimately, cancer claimed the final blow to her health.
She was offered chemotherapy. She refused. She chose to return home and live out her few short weeks without treatment. Her decision came from within. I believe the hours of dancing with birds and blooms gave her an inner wisdom. My mother knew the cycle of life and rebirth. Her garden flower blooms spoke of their brief joys and whispered of a new beginning. The hummingbirds heartbeats move their chests and wings. “I will come to visit you as a hummingbird and a Monarch butterfly”, she told me. And she does.
I take time to look and listen for her. When I am at my lowest, one or the other avatars appear.
Jean Di Carlo-Wagner
Owner, Yoga Being
Only Online Advanced Yoga Training
For Cancer Survivors
About Jean Di Carlo Wagner: Owner of Yogabeing.net
E-RYT200, E-RYT500 certified with Yoga Alliance
Yoga Therapist with International Alliance of Yoga Therapists
Atma Yoga Teacher Training, certified 500 hours Los Angeles
A Gentle Way Yoga, certified 200 hours
Silver Age Yoga, certified 200 hours