Recently Dr. Deborah Ooten wrote about self-care, conscious health, and the integration of both allopathic and holistic care. I feel moved to underscore that, as I am currently shifting the axis of self-care in a way that I hope has value for you, the reader.
My cancer diagnosis of 2018 has been a journey that has not only expanded my view of life, death, and the importance of wholeness in relationships, but it continues to show how I can be of help in sharing my experiences with others – in this case, a family member.
For the first time in a few years, the daily regimen of medications required for my condition has shifted and it feels very strange. Being in touch with and managing the day-to-day side effects has become part of my life and a felt sense of who I am. Sometimes disease and its long-term treatment become insinuated into our lives expressing or constraining our availability to others and ourselves. Anyone with a chronic condition can understand this.
Being taken off chemotherapy has ushered in a much different sense of paying attention to just about everything- personal energy levels, diet, bodily sensations, even the well-meaning responses of others. A new level of acceptance around limitations, loss of vitality, and cultivation of patience with my own process all a part of the new landscape of things encountered, and all carry the possibility of gratitude as the most suitable posture to process this.
The timing of all this is propitious as I must now share the wisdom I’ve gleaned with my dear brother who too has recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer. I am grateful that I have nothing to give but gold.
Being available with deeper listening towards a family member carries with it all the heart-wrenching challenges with someone who not only knows your origins and family history but is part of the fabric of that history. Objectivity is not so much the magic key here as compassion and of course Love.
As in myself, I see his (my?) hesitancy to ask for help in some areas and his quiet reassurance that all will be well. I take in the awkward moments of silence to listen to what is not being said and try my best to honor that. His sense of self-sufficiency coupled with a strong work ethic has been rudely interrupted, and I see with a recognition his difficulty with this collision of events and it looks awfully familiar.
Somehow having been through the experience has given me the tools for helping- a sense of when to let up when I’m being pushy, the space to allow the other the emergence of their own answers, and the space to acknowledge the feelings and perceptions of my brother to speak for themselves without the need on my part to fix anything. This provides fertile ground for continued support for my own situation, a lesson I am learning every day. Finding an occasional island of comfort in the many unknowns can only be found in the here and now and as it turns out that is the very best place from which to both give and receive support, love, and a hopeful outlook. The slow cultivation of gratitude has created the space for Grace that energizes my giving back in whatever form is needed for my dear bother who was always available for me at the height of my own crises, and with this, I can lean into the uncertainty on firm ground.
Be well and do well.